Fianna Fail directive on candidates sparks fury
A row has broken out in Fianna Fail over the selection process for its candidate in the Longford/Westmeath by-election.
The Irish Independent has confirmed that Fianna Fail headquarters issued a directive that the party's candidate must be based in the Athlone electoral branch.
The party hierarchy says this is in order to maximise the party's chances of putting forward a strong challenge for the seat, made vacant as a result of the death of Fine Gael TD Nicky McFadden.
However, party members in Longford have reacted furiously as they see the move as being made to favour Athlone-based Aengus O'Rourke, nephew of former minister Mary O'Rourke.
A party source told the Irish Independent that the directive has "caused consternation" and that some councillors have threatened to resign unless the party rows back. Two party members who intend to contest today's selection convention last night criticised the directive issued by the party.
Sitting councillor Martin Mulleady told the Irish Independent that party leader Micheal Martin has "serious questions to answer". "There is already two sitting TDs in Westmeath and just one in Longford.
"This is about giving the party a better chance in the next general election."
Pat O'Rourke, who also intends to contest, said he held discussions with Mr Martin over the issue yesterday.