Monday 24 July 2017

'Business as usual' insists the new FF campaign boss

Billy Kelleher
Billy Kelleher
John Downing

John Downing

Fianna Fáil's new director of elections Billy Kelleher has insisted it's "business as usual" as he begins his work.

The Cork North Central TD and party health spokesman said he had no comment to make on the resignation of Pat Carey late last week.

"As far as I am concerned, Fianna Fáil is now finalising its election preparations. Our candidates are chosen and we are now ready to take the contest to the outgoing government and the other parties," Mr Kelleher said.

Mr Kelleher, who has been at Leinster House since 1992 as both a Fianna Fáil Senator and TD, will have his first campaign meetings with party organisers from tomorrow.

He argued that the party is well placed to make big gains in the election which is now just months away.

The new campaign director's comments came as it emerged that Mr Carey is expected to complain about alleged leaks about allegations of child sex abuse - which he has already utterly denied - to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

Last Thursday, Mr Carey issued a statement through his solicitor insisting he had always behaved to the highest standards in his work as a teacher and community activist and he did not know if he was the person referred to in reports about garda investigations.

As Fianna Fáil reeled from his sudden departure, some party members criticised the way he had been appointed by leader Micheál Martin.

One party source said last night: "There will often be differences of opinion about such appointments. But Pat Carey brought a wealth of experience, especially about Dublin politics, to bear on the job."

The party hopes that many of their former supporters, who voted for Fine Gael last time out in February 2011, can be persuaded to return to Fianna Fáil.

The party will continue to campaign on fair treatment for people, especially in regard to services like health and education.

Focus

"We believe this can appeal to our traditional supporters. We will focus on how better value for money can be delivered to taxpayers, outlining plans for better services and how these can be funded," one party source indicated.

Mr Kelleher insisted that he could not get involved in seat predictions ahead of the election.

But many within the party have indicated that going from its current 22 TDs to more than 35 next time would be a good result and could be presented as part of a "two-election recovery plan".

Party strategists will now assess which constituencies they have the best chance of winning. It is expected major resources will be allocated to these constituencies.

Dublin, where they have no TD, will be a big battleground for the party.

Irish Independent

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