Niall O'Connor: Why Deirdre Heney's victory over Sean Haughey is good news for Fianna Fail
Published 24/06/2015 | 22:08
Fianna Fáil has been sent a clear and concise message by its members in Dublin Bay North this evening - 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 earlier today, party headquarters issued a diktat that just one candidate be selected at the convention, which was held in the prestigious Clontarf Castle.
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 will legitimately argue that he should be added to the Fianna Fáil ticket.
And with Fine Gael running three candidates, albeit a strategy that was unplanned, 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 Micheal Martin with no TD in Dublin Bay North following the election.
Secondly, the party needs to realise that it is nowhere near the popular heights it enjoyed before its car crash election in 2011.
Despite a poll boost last Sunday, Fianna Fáil currently has no Dail representation in Dublin whatsoever.
A one candidate strategy - with the entire party pulling behind Ms Heney - could quite easily change that.
Just four weeks ago, the Fianna Fáil party, and its Dublin Bay North Branch, were in turmoil following the shock departure of Senator Averil Power.
It needs to move on and accept the democratic decision of its members.
Those members tonight chose a younger, female face over a former TD whose family name was once the most well-known in Irish politics.