Monday 26 February 2018

Martin aims to purge FF's old guard from the Seanad

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin will attempt to ruthlessly purge the party's old guard in the Seanad and promote failed young Dail candidates as part of his rebuilding process.

But he is set to face resistance from the older senators who want to hang on to their seats.

Mr Martin wrote to senators and councillors yesterday as he began to try to pick Fianna Fail up off the ground in the wake of the disastrous general election.

He asked them not to finalise any nominations for the Seanad elections until they spoke to him directly.

And he said he would be meeting party councillors before the election at the end of April.

Councillors make up the majority of the Seanad electorate.

The Irish Independent has also learnt Mr Martin contacted some unsuccessful Dail candidates as the count took place on Saturday to ask them to run for the Seanad.

Mr Martin's move is seen as the first step toward asking older senators like Donie Cassidy and Francie O'Brien not to run, and sources close to Mr Martin last night confirmed this is what he intends to do.

Fianna Fail will only have a fraction of the 28 senators it had at the outset of the last Seanad, since they will have no Taoiseach's nominees and since there are fewer Fianna Fail TDs and councillors able to vote.

Even though the Seanad faces abolition under a Fine Gael-Labour coalition, with the larger party committed to holding a referendum on it next year, the new Seanad, once elected, will have to run its course.

"We might only have nine or 10 senators and we have to be ruthless," a high-ranking Fianna Fail official told the Irish Independent.

"It won't be nice but it has to be done. If we're talking about rebuilding the party we have to get some of the younger candidates who performed well but didn't get elected in there."

Fianna Fail will have no female TDs in the next Dail, and Mary Hanafin, Mary Fitzpatrick and Averil Power are among those the party hope will seek a Seanad seat.


Mr Martin will also try to get Dublin-based people to the Seanad to make up for the party's failure to hold more than one seat in the capital.

Ms Fitzpatrick, based in Dublin Central, said she would consider going to the Seanad.

Mr Martin said at the weekend he wanted people in the Seanad who would be looking to get into the Dail at the next election, and said there was not room for everybody who wanted a seat in the upper house.

Labour and Fine Gael will also be hoping some of their unsuccessful candidates will make it to the Seanad, and Taoiseach Brian Cowen can also appoint someone to the upper house in its dying days.

ff's long road to redemption, page 25

Irish Independent

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