Tuesday 28 February 2017

Sinn Féin considers running an extra name in Donegal

Greg Harkin and Martin Grant

Pearse Doherty
Pearse Doherty

Sinn Féin is considering running three candidates in the new five-seat Donegal constituency at the next election.

Party leaders will meet at the end of next week to discuss asking former county mayor Cora Harvey to run alongside sitting TDs Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Pearse Doherty.

Donegal has dropped one seat for the next election, with the far south of the county now included in Sligo-Leitrim.

This means that one sitting TD will definitely lose a seat and make the race for the other five tighter than ever before.

But some Sinn Féin members believe the party can land three of the five seats.

Mr Doherty, the party's finance spokesman, said party workers had been researching the possibility of running a third candidate.

Mr Mac Lochlainn is based in Inishowen and Mr Doherty is based in Gaoth Dobhair in the west of the county.

However, the party struggles for support in Letterkenny and it believes that a candidate from Finn Valley has the potential to win votes across east and mid-Donegal.

"Our research on the ground tells us that we have scope to take a third seat," said Mr Doherty.

"I would be the first to admit that it is a strategy not without risk, particularly for myself and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, but we would be fairly confident that with proper vote management success can be achieved.

"We have formed a committee to look at suitable candidates and will meet in a week or two to discuss it."

Ms Harvey announced that she was quitting politics in October 2013 and didn't run for the county council last year. She cited family and work commitments as her reasons for standing down, but continues to work for the party.

However, party sources say that only a politician with her popularity is likely to succeed in the three-candidate strategy.

"Cora would be the ideal candidate because she worked so hard as a councillor in the Finn Valley and she is extremely popular with voters," said one colleague.

Meanwhile, in Louth, speculation is mounting that Fianna Fáil TD Séamus Kirk is considering running in the election, despite announcing his intention to retire from politics.

Mr Kirk squashed rumours in June that he would run. However, party sources say the option is back on the table.

As a former ceann comhairle, Mr Kirk was automatically returned to the Dáil at the last election. He did not respond to calls last night.

Fianna Fáil has never failed to take a seat in the constituency.

However, the party is considering all of its options as Sinn Féin candidates Gerry Adams and councillor Imelda Munster are tipped to take two seats.

Irish Independent

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