| 3.5°C Dublin

Candidates pledge support for Martin after defeat

FAILED leadership contender Brian Lenihan last night admitted he was disappointed after finishing third in the contest to lead Fianna Fail.

But Mr Lenihan insisted he accepted the result of the secret ballot and pledged to give the new Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin his full support.

The Finance Minister, who was previously perceived as the front-runner for the Fianna Fail leadership, said he would serve the party in whatever capacity.

Asked if he was disappointed to have finished in third place, behind Social Welfare and Defence Minister Eamon O Cuiv, Mr Lenihan said: "You are always disappointed in any contest. That's politics but you accept the secret ballot and you move on."

Mr Lenihan said it was time to proceed under a new leader who could lead a "united and cohesive" party into the imminent election.

In contrast to Mr Lenihan, a delighted Mr O Cuiv said he was "very, very pleased" with his second place finish, having only started canvassing support on Saturday night.

"No, I'm not disappointed. I'm very very pleased to be the runner-up. I'm very pleased, having started late into this leadership race, with the vote I got," Mr O Cuiv said.


Eclipsing the high-profile Finance Minister and securing enough votes to become the runner-up took a "huge amount of work", Mr O Cuiv said.

Mr O Cuiv last night appealed for the entire party to row in behind the new leader.

Mr Martin was a "very outgoing" person and would be a "very, very good" performer in the media, he added.

Tourism and Enterprise Minister Mary Hanafin, who secured the least number of first preference votes, said it was important she lasted the distance and did not pull out ahead of yesterday's vote.

And she denied her leadership bid had anything to do with attempts to secure her vulnerable seat in Dun Laoghaire.

Ms Hanafin said she had always enjoyed a "very high media profile" and she was simply determined to articulate her vision for the party.

"I got more votes than I thought I would," she said of her position.

The minister claimed Mr Martin was the frontrunner for the leadership for months and would be an "excellent" party leader.

On the first count, Mr Martin drew 33 first preference votes, followed by Mr O Cuiv on 15 votes, Mr Lenihan on 14 votes and Ms Hanafin on 10 votes.

On the elimination of Ms Hanafin, her transfers were then distributed, leaving Mr Martin on 36 and Mr O Cuiv and Mr Lenihan level on 18.

On the final count, Mr O Cuiv was left in second place on 22, with Mr Martin climbing to 50 votes.

The three runners-up may now be in competition for the position of deputy leader. Mr Martin may, however, opt for one of the party's younger TDs.

Irish Independent