Growing list of candidates a Seanad headache for Martin
FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin faces an uphill struggle to create his Seanad dream team after the numbers of 'unofficial' party candidates swelled again last night.
There are now 17 unofficial Fianna Fail candidates seeking election, including members of the old guard who have refused to stand aside in favour of Mr Martin's preferred candidates.
Former Cavan-Monaghan TD Margaret Conlon last night became the latest addition to Fianna Fail's extensive list of candidates -- making for a crowded field in which the party is only likely to win a maximum of 12 seats.
The Fianna Fail leader has circulated a list of his "top 10" candidates to all Fianna Fail TDs, senators and councillors.
But outgoing senators have dug their heels in and insisted on seeking re-election, despite Mr Martin's call for younger candidates to take their place because they would fight for a Dail seat at the next general election.
The so-called old guard includes senators such as Donnie Cassidy (66), Labhras O Murchu (72), Mary White (67), Paschal Mooney (64), Jim Walsh (64), Ann Ormonde (76) and Terry Leyden (66).
Such senators were nominated from designated bodies outside of Fianna Fail, while another four candidates were nominated by their own Fianna Fail party colleagues on top of Mr Martin's list.
Following the disastrous 2009 local elections, the party can only expect to take a maximum of 12 seats. But winning Seanad seats is a crucial platform for reinvigorating a party that has been reduced from 78 seats to just 20 in the Dail.
Failure to win a respectable number of Seanad seats with a new breed of fresh young candidates would represent a massive setback for Mr Martin in his bid to rebuild the party.
The 11th-hour decision by Ms Conlon to run came after she received nominations from Independent senators Feargal Quinn and Fiona O'Malley, on top of nominations from party senators Lisa McDonald and Larry Butler.
The Fianna Fail leader can issue a list of his preferred candidates -- but ultimately FF councillors will make the decision through a secret ballot.
The deadline for nominations by members of the Oireachtas closed yesterday at noon.