Wednesday 26 June 2019

FF 'change of tactics is us not learning lessons' from last Euro poll: TD

 

Anne Rabbitte: The Galway TD is standing to become an MEP. Photo: Tom Burke
Anne Rabbitte: The Galway TD is standing to become an MEP. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Fianna Fáil candidate Anne Rabbitte has said the party has not learned the lesson of the last European election as she set off on a 48-hour blitz of counties that had been assigned to her running mate.

The Galway East TD said she was beginning a two-day "Rabbitte Run" on areas that had previously been territory allocated to her party rival, former minister Brendan Smith.

It comes amid concerns in the party that Fianna Fáil's two-candidate strategy risks splitting its vote in Midlands North-West and repeating the 2014 result where the party returned no MEPs in the vast constituency.

A plan to divide the counties between Ms Rabbitte - who was assigned the West - and Cavan-Monaghan-based Mr Smith - who got Border areas - was abandoned by Fianna Fáil headquarters last week.

There is now a free-for-all in all counties other than the two TDs' home constituencies and Ms Rabbitte made her first foray to Mr Smith's former territory in Donegal last night.

She said the party should have "stayed focused" on the original strategy, adding the "change of tactics is us not having learned our previous lesson".

Neither of Fianna Fáil's 2014 candidates in the constituency - Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher and Thomas Byrne - took a European Parliament seat on that occasion.

She said she had now set aside two days from the five-week campaign for what she called a "Rabbitte Run" into Mr Smith's area.

Both Mr Smith and Ms Rabbitte are trailing sitting MEPs Mairead McGuinness of Fine Gael, Independent Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and Sinn Féin's Matt Carthy in opinion polls.

Ms Rabbitte still believes she can be elected on the back of her Galway base and has received strong support from TD Éamon Ó Cuív and former MEP Seán Ó Neachtain.

She said she fought party chiefs to get into the race so Galway could elect an MEP.

She said: "It's tribalism. It's not personality. It's not the biggest name. It's club, parish, county, province."

Irish Independent

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