Tuesday 23 December 2014

Hanafin to take on FF young guns as she eyes Dail return

Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor

Published 22/04/2014 | 02:30

Mary Hanafin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Mary Hanafin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Kate Feeney
Jennifer Cuffe

MARY Hanafin is preparing to go up against Micheal Martin's young guns to be a Fianna Fail candidate in the next general election.

But the former Education Minister agrees with Bertie Ahern's view the party's performance in Dublin is "brutal".

Ms Hanafin has confirmed she wants to try to win back her seat in Dun Laoghaire, which she lost in Fianna Fail's 2011 general election rout.

But she will possibly be up against a raft of new local election candidates, including two young female contenders being pushed by the party hierarchy - Kate Feeney and Jennifer Cuffe.

Although she did not seek to run in the local or European elections, Ms Hanafin said she would go for the party nomination for the next general election. "I had never ruled it out – ever. I'm going for it. What the party and the public will think has to be seen," she told the Irish Independent.

Ms Hanafin said when she was eliminated in the general election count, she was on 9,000 votes.

At the next general election, Dun Laoghaire will be a four-seater, but Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett is due to be elected automatically, leaving just three seats up for grabs.

Ms Hanafin was a Fianna Fail TD in the constituency from 1997 to 2011.

DIFFICULT

"It will be extremely difficult on our current numbers. But there is a good base to be built on," she said.

But Ms Hanafin also told RTE's Sean O'Rourke the party's performance in the opinion polls was "pretty awful at the moment".

Last week, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern attacked Mr Martin and said the party's was doing "brutal".

Ms Hanafin said she didn't want to get involved in the row, but she pointed to the party's 9pc rating in Dublin in the 'Sunday Independent'/Millward Brown opinion poll.

"That is brutal – that is absolutely appalling," she said.

Fianna Fail is expected to only run one candidate in Dun Laoghaire in the next general election. The focus is on the candidates running in the local elections.

To get on the party ticket, Ms Hanafin will have to fend off challenges from these young turks.

Local party sources say every Fianna Fail council candidate will "fancy a run" and it will depend on their vote-getting ability on May 23.

Fianna Fail has sitting councillor Cormac Devlin running in Dun Laoghaire town, along with James McCann and Lisa Rogerson.

Elsewhere in the county council area, it also has sitting councillor Gerry Horkan and his running-mate Liam Dockery in Stillorgan, Vinny Duran-Kearns, and Ms Cuffe in Shankill and Ms Feeney in Blackrock.

But the party leadership has high hopes for Ms Cuffe and Ms Feeney making the breakthrough in the local elections and going on to the general election.

Ms Cuffe is a 27-year-old barrister from Cabinteely and her work in family law has translated into an interest in influencing party policy on families, childcare and education.

She has also done voluntary work with the St Vincent de Paul, Meals-On-Wheels and the Free Legal Advice Centre.

Ms Feeney is also 27 and works as a tax adviser and is training to become a chartered accountant.

Originally from Sligo, she was elected the first female president of Ogra Fianna Fail last year.

She is the daughter of former Fianna Fail senator Geraldine Feeney – a close friend and distant relative of Brian Cowen's family.

Irish Independent

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