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Saturday 23 August 2014

Fianna Fail to take no action against Hanafin over local elections debacle

Fionnan Sheahan

Published 05/06/2014 | 10:42

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Fianna Fail candidate for Blackrock Mary Hanafin celebrates her win with her mother Mona Hanafin at the count in the City West Hotel, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Fianna Fail candidate for Blackrock Mary Hanafin celebrates her win with her mother Mona Hanafin at the count in the City West Hotel, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

FIANNA Fáil has officially decided not to take any action against Mary Hanafin over her refusal to withdraw as a candidate in the local elections, Independent.ie has learned.

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Ms Hanafin and her running mate Kate Feeney both won seats in the Battle of Blackrock.

The former Education Minister will take her seat as a member of the Fianna Fáil group on Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council this week.

Fianna Fail's rules and procedures committee met yesterday to discuss the issue around Ms Hanafin's defiance of the party hierarchy in refusing to pull out of the local elections.

Party sources say the committee decided Ms Hanafin has been "spoken to" and the case is now closed as far as they are concerned.

No further action is being taken.

Ms Hanafin will be part of Fianna Fáil group on Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council when it meets this week.

The group of Fianna Fáil councillors on the council was refusing to hold a meeting of until the situation was sorted and Ms Hanafin was given the all clear.

Ms Feeney, the Ogra Fianna Fail President, and Ms Hanafin, the former education minister, were locked in a bitter battle for seats in the Blackrock area of Dun Laoghaire County Council.

Ms Hanafin came second in the area, to be elected on the first count, while Ms Feeney came third and was elected on the fifth count.

Ms Hanafin defied the Fianna Fail leadership to remain a candidate, despite efforts to get her to withdraw following her late arrival on the ticket.

Ms Feeney was struggling in early opinion polls in the area.

In a dramatic turnaround, the party took two seats. 

Ms Hanafin had ruled out a post mortem with party leader Micheal Martin into her selection debacle.

While she expressed "full faith" in Mr Martin, Ms Hanafin admitted that the party mishandled her selection to the Fianna Fáil ticket along with Ms Feeney.

But the former minster insisted that she will not be seeking to hold a postmortem with the party hierarchy.

She also said that she will not be taking "any income or allowances" when elected to the council.

Ms Hanafin also refused to rule out a run at the next general election.

She described the local election campaign as a "pleasure" once she got over the "initial difficulties".

Mr Martin has dramatically forgiven Ms Hanafin after the embarrassing internal row over her nomination in the local elections.

After the local elections, Mr Martin said the bitter conflict over Ms Hanafin’s nomination was now “water under the bridge” when asked about her poll results.

Ms Hanafin also said the turf war was now over and said she was “looking forward to working” with the Fianna Fail leader.

She was initially asked to run for the party days before the nomination deadline but at the last minute it was decided to run Ms Feeney as the party’s only candidate.

Ms Hanafin defied Fianna Fail headquarters and registered as a candidate at the eleventh hour.

Mr Martin called Ms Hanafin three times asking her to withdraw but she ignored his demands.

Fianna Fail then launched an internal investigation into Ms Hanafin’s decision to run and it was suggested she might be expelled from the party.

But when both Ms Hanafin and Ms Feeney took seats, Mr Martin forgave the former minister.

Mr Martin said on the night of the local elections count “every party has internal rows” and insisted the highly publicised controversy was now “water under the bridge”.

Ms Hanafin later said it was time to let “bygones be bygones”.

“If we didn’t have two candidates we wouldn’t have two seats,” she added.

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