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Sunday 21 April 2019

FF to press ahead with poll despite Ahern's resistance

Sam Smyth

FIANNA Fail will press ahead with two by-elections on June 5, despite the views of the party in Bertie Ahern's constituency.

The former Taoiseach wanted to postpone the by-election caused by the death of Independent TD Tony Gregory until later in the year, after the European elections.

But party headquarters want to press ahead, to bury potential failure in Dublin Central and also Dublin South amid the fallout of the European polls.

Election fever was ratcheted up further last night when friends and colleagues of the late Independent TD selected Dublin City councillor Maureen O'Sullivan to run in the by-election.

Independent TD Finian McGrath welcomed the selection of the school principal to run in Dublin Central and said he hopes she continues the tradition of the late Tony Gregory's community politics to protect the weakest in society.

Fianna Fail has yet to announce its candidate.

The former Taoiseach's older brother Maurice Ahern and two other Dublin City Councillors, Tom Stafford and Mary Fitzpatrick, are all seeking the nomination.

Three meetings have been held in St Luke's, Fianna Fail's constituency headquarters in Dublin Central, and the view at all of them was that the by-election should be postponed.

A source close to Bertie Ahern said last night: "We have put together a lot of research and figures on elections here going back to the 1970s and sent them to Mount Street. It will be nearly impossible for us to win, but if headquarters tells us to go ahead we will not fight with them."

Even Bertie Ahern's closest colleagues admit that he has little hope of using his influence to deliver a seat on June 5.

Senior party sources say it is better to bury a by-election defeat in Dublin Central and another in Dublin South on a day when Fianna Fail will already be suffering embarrassing losses nationally.

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