New headache for Martin as Pat 'The Cope' seeks seat
Veteran Fianna Fáil figure Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher is seeking a run at the General Election in a move that could cause further problems for party leader Micheál Martin.
Mr Martin has not contacted Mr Gallagher since he dramatically lost his European Parliament seat in May.
However, the Fianna Fáil branch in Donegal has confirmed that it is formally backing Mr Gallagher ahead of the upcoming selection convention.
"I can confirm that I will be meeting with senior party officials and party headquarters next week with the view of having Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher on the ticket," branch chairperson Brendan Byrne told the Irish Independent.
Sources have revealed that Mr Gallagher will be seeking a meeting, prior to confirming his candidacy, during which he is likely to confront Mr Martin over the party's handling of the European election campaign.
Party figures have admitted that the decision to impose senator Thomas Byrne on the European election ticket in the Midlands-North-West constituency may have damaged Mr Gallagher's campaign.
Mr Martin is likely to be concerned about the prospect of Mr Gallagher's candidacy damaging the electoral hopes of sitting TD Charlie McConalogue.
Mr Gallagher is also seen by some within the party has being part of the so-called 'old guard', which Mr Martin is keen to replace with younger candidates.
However, sources in both Sinn Féin and Fine Gael insist Mr Gallagher would have a strong chance of securing a seat, if he eventually runs.
Sitting Sinn Fein TDs Pearse Doherty and Padraig MacLochlainn are widely expected to be re-elected.
Fine Gael, however, is seeking a running mate for Gaelteacht Minister Joe McHugh and may put forward John McNulty. Mr McNulty was at the centre of the highly damaging cronyism row last year. Fine Gael TD Dinny McGinley may look to retire as he hits his 70th birthday this month.