Wednesday 18 October 2017

FF doubts it can win seat with Hanafin on the ticket

Mary Hanafin, Cllr Cormac Devlin and Cllr Kate Feeney at the Fianna Fail selection convention for Dunlaoghaire-Rathdown at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel in Killiney
Mary Hanafin, Cllr Cormac Devlin and Cllr Kate Feeney at the Fianna Fail selection convention for Dunlaoghaire-Rathdown at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel in Killiney
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Fianna Fáil has jeopardised all chances of winning a seat in Dún Laoghaire after adding former minister Mary Hanafin to the ticket, senior party figures believe.

Just 36 hours after Councillor Cormac Devlin won the selection convention by four votes, party bosses announced that she would be added.

The move was against the expressed wishes of Mr Devlin and the other contender at the convention, Councillor Kate Feeney.

A number of party sources have said they do not believe Fianna Fáil can take a seat in the constituency, which is now effectively a three-seater.

Ms Hanafin herself said previously that she does not believe a two-candidate strategy will serve the party well. In 2011, neither of the sitting Fianna Fáil TDs - Ms Hanafin and Barry Andrews - was re-elected.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Ms Hanafin said: "It will be difficult to win that third seat. However, I look forward to bringing my experience and working with Cormac to win that seat."

However, Mr Devlin yesterday reiterated his belief that adding Ms Hanafin was the wrong option for the party.

"I remain of the view that a one-candidate strategy is preferable. That was the agreed strategy of the party and all three potential candidates.

"I will, nevertheless, work closely with the local organisation and Mary to ensure the party has the best possible chance of winning a seat," Mr Devlin said.

"Obviously, this decision dramatically reduces the chances of Fianna Fáil securing a seat in Dún Laoghaire, but this just means that myself and party members will work even harder than before."

Earlier, Ms Hanafin said Fianna Fáil would not go into government with Sinn Féin.

Speaking on RTE Radio One's 'Today With Sean O'Rourke' programme, Ms Hanafin said she did not want to see her party go into coalition with Fine Gael either as this would ensure that Sinn Féin was the country's biggest opposition party.

"We have to let the electorate speak and then we have to work with whatever they give us," she said.

"There are some choices which I myself would certainly not be party to. For example, I will quite clearly say Fianna Fáil, and if I'm a member of that, will not go into government with Sinn Féin and I would absolutely say that."

When quizzed as to whether Fianna Fáil would be prepared to go into government with Fine Gael, Ms Hanafin said that it wouldn't do the "long-term" future of the country any good.

"I actually wouldn't like to see Fine Gael and Fianna Fail go into government together because I don't think it would be in the long-term interests of the country, not necessarily of the party.

"Because that would mean Sinn Féin would become the largest opposition party and that would give them the platform, enabling them to build up to being in government later on and I would not like to see that."

On her Fianna Fáil leadership prospects, Ms Hanafin said her main aim was to win a seat and any ambitions for leadership did not come into it.

"I'm not sure that would ever arise again. I did throw my hat into the ring the last time even though I knew I wouldn't win."

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