Saturday 16 December 2017

FF turf war erupts as Mary Hanafin 'made error' by joining race

Mary Hanafin pictured for Sunday Independent. Picture; GERRY MOONEY.
Mary Hanafin pictured for Sunday Independent. Picture; GERRY MOONEY.
Kate Feeney

PHILIP RYAN, DANIEL McCONNELL and JOHN DRENNAN

MARY Hanafin made "an error" by registering as a candidate to run in the Blackrock constituency in South Dublin, Fianna Fail's local election candidate in the area, Kate Feeney, has told the Sunday Independent.

This political put-down came after an embarrassing internal row forced Fianna Fail into issuing a statement last night insisting former Education Minister Mary Hanafin was not running for the party in the local elections.

After a day of confusion, the party said Ms Hanafin had been told in the "clearest possible terms" that there would only be one candidate running in the Blackrock constituency in South Dublin.

The party said Ogra Fianna Fail president Kate Feeney would be the party's only candidate in the area.

The statement was issued after Ms Hanafin earlier claimed she was approached by senior party figures and asked to run in the forthcoming election.

However, news of her last-minute addition to the election ticket sparked outrage among local Fianna Fail members in Blackrock.

Ms Feeney was believed to be left fuming when she heard Ms Hanafin joined the ticket and immediately contacted Fianna Fail headquarters.

Late yesterday evening, Fianna Fail said it had explored the possibility of securing two seats in the constituency and it was agreed Ms Hanafin would be the candidate.

However, following further analysis, it was decided on Friday evening it would only run one candidate and that would be Ms Feeney.

"Mary Hanafin was informed of that decision on Friday evening in the clearest possible terms and has been made aware that there will be only one Fianna Fail candidate," Fianna Fail said.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Ms Feeney said she believed Ms Hanafin made "an error".

"I'm sure there was no ill intention on Mary's part," she said.

"I have a lot respect for Mary and I have looked up to her as I was coming up through the party. I'm sure Mary will respect the decision."

Ms Hanafin last night said she would not be commenting further after Fianna Fail released a statement on its position.

However, earlier in the day, Ms Hanafin said the party's general secretary Sean Dorgan asked her to run last week.

"He contacted me on Wednesday saying he had new research which showed we could win two seats in Blackrock," she said.

"I insisted that Kate Feeney be told and I said I wanted 24 hours to think about it," she explained.

"In true Fianna Fail fashion, Kate wasn't told until Friday, by which stage I had done photographs and leaflets had been prepared," she added.

Ms Hanafin said she delayed telling people in deference to Ms Feeney but couldn't delay any longer because the deadline for nominations was yesterday.

"I am not the big bad minister muscling my way back into Blackrock. Sean Dorgan asked me having come with the new research. I am not a dirty player and I now want us to get two seats in Blackrock," she added.

Ms Hanafin conceded that it looked like a shafting of Ms Feeney but insisted she was not thinking of running even as late as last weekend.

Asked about her comments last week that the party's poll ratings in Dublin at just 9 per cent were "brutal", Ms Hanafin said they were not a criticism of embattled party leader Micheal Martin.

"That was simply a statement of fact. A poll rating which has Fianna Fail on 9 per cent in Dublin is brutal," she said.

Sunday Independent

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