FIANNA Fáil members in north Kerry are gearing up for next year's local elections as the party enjoys something of a resurgence in national opinion polls.
Hundreds of FF cumainn members in the Listowel electoral area attended a meeting in Listowel this week, chaired by Dan Kiely and attended by former minister John O'Donoghue, now the party's PRO for the county.
The meeting was held as part of Fianna Fáil's preparations to mount a comeback from its humiliating defeat in the general election of 2011. Less than two years into the Fine Gael/Labour coalition, and the party that was vilified for its part in the collapse of the Irish economy is working on a comeback.
The turnout at the Listowel meeting showed renewed appetite for the political fight among party grassroots members, John O'Donoghue told The Kerryman. It comes ahead of meetings that will be held among the Listowel electoral area's 37 cumainn next month.
"There generally is a big change of personnel and I would expect many changes at cumann level," Mr O'Donoghue said. "I was personally very pleased to see many young people, and young women in particular, present at the Three Mermaids."
The party is keen to present a fresh face but it would appear that the higher FF echelons in Kerry remain the same, with John O'Donoghue and Thomas McEllistrim already declared for its selection convention for the next general election. Speculation that football star Darragh O Sé might run for the ticket remain just that, unconfirmed.
"We're not excluding anything or anybody," Mr O'Donoghue said when asked about the apparent failure to attract new faces. He said that new rules governing the selection of candidates will, however, ' give the party back to the grassroots'.
"Previously only three delegates were returned from each cumann to the selection convention but under new ' one person, one vote' rules each member of a cumann will have a vote, thereby giving greater voice to the party at grassroots' level," he explained.
Fianna Fáil's primary objective at present is to win as many seats as possible in the local elections next year. Three more seats are expected in lieu of the abolishment of the county's three town councils. "That's the primary objective. We're under no illusion that we have an enormous mountain to climb after the disastrous general election result."
Mr O'Donoghue said it is the party's ' secondary objective' at present to plan for the securing of at least one seat in the next general election.