Thursday 21 September 2017

FF hopeful Cahill questions party's candidate strategy

Fianna Fáil candidate Siobhan Ambrose
Fianna Fáil candidate Siobhan Ambrose
Fianna Fáil candidate Jackie Cahill
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A Fianna Fáil general election candidate in Tipperary has confronted party headquarters over the surprise decision to put forward a three-candidate strategy.

Councillor Jackie Cahill, a former president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), is the latest Fianna Fáil hopeful to become embroiled in a row over candidate selection.

Mr Cahill was put forward as the party's candidate following a selection convention in May, defeating four competitors including former minister and Fianna Fáil TD Martin Mansergh. But after deliberating over the constituency strategy, party headquarters opted to add two more candidates to the ticket.

Mr Cahill has been joined by councillors Siobhán Ambrose and Michael Smith, whose father, Michael Snr, is a former TD for the constituency.

Party sources expressed surprise at the decision, given that Fianna Fáil currently has no Dáil representation in the Munster constituency.

And the Irish Independent has learned that Mr Cahill and his supporters personally confronted party head- quarters amid concerns that Fianna Fáil will fail to take any seat due to the three-candidate strategy.

The meeting, which was attended by general secretary Séan Dorgan and head of selection strategy Michael Moynihan TD, was described by one source as "heated".

Mr Cahill is understood to have told headquarters that the decision to add Mr Smith to the ticket was "stupid".

"I asked headquarters why they wanted to run three candidates," he told the Irish Independent.

"They could not put forward a reason for doing it and I expressed surprise at that."

A senior Fianna Fáil strategist last night described the decision as being "extremely difficult".

"I'm sure certain parties are anxious over it, but that's politics. People just need to get on with it," the source said.

Mr Smith said last night that he topped the poll at the selection convention on first transfers, adding that he is focused on taking a seat for Fianna Fáil in the election.

"As we say in Tipperary, it's like picking up a hurl. You pick up a hurl to win," he said.

The row in Tipperary is the latest dispute to erupt within Fianna Fáil over candidate selection.

The party is still considering whether to issue diktats to constituencies such as Dún Laoghaire, Dublin South Central, Louth, Sligo-Leitrim and Dublin Central .

But the Tipperary constituency, which is a new five-seater following the boundary changes, is one of the most difficult results to call.

Sitting TDs Alan Kelly and Tom Hayes are both fighting to hold on to their seats.

Fine Gael TD Noel Coonan is also defending his seat, along with independent deputies Michael Lowry, Seamus Healy and Mattie McGrath.

Irish Independent

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