Tuesday 17 October 2017

One-candidate strategy best hopes for FF to win seat

Sean Haughey
Sean Haughey
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Fianna Fáil was sent a clear message by its members in Dublin Bay North last night - it's now time to look forward.

Although Deirdre Heney's victory was wafer-thin, the Dublin City councillor is by far the best General Election candidate for a party trying desperately to shake off the ghosts of the past.

Ms Heney has, potentially, stopped in its tracks Sean Haughey's determined political comeback. That in itself is no small feat for Ms Heney, who has carved out a reputation as a hard-working councillor.

As revealed yesterday, party headquarters issued a diktat that just one candidate be selected at the convention. But that of course leaves the option open to add a second candidate in the coming weeks.

After losing by 75 votes to 73, Mr Haughey (pictured) will legitimately argue that he should be added to the Fianna Fáil ticket. And with Fine Gael running three candidates, Fianna Fáil will probably add the son of the late Taoiseach. But the party could rue such a move in the future for two reasons. Firstly, both Ms Heney and Mr Haughey share a base in Clontarf. A two-candidate strategy would, without doubt, split the Fianna Fáil vote and, in the worst case scenario, leave Micheál Martin with no TD in Dublin Bay North.

A one-candidate strategy - with the entire party pulling behind Ms Heney - could change that. Secondly, the party needs to realise it is nowhere near the popular heights it enjoyed before its car crash election in 2011.

Irish Independent

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