Sunday 19 November 2017

Hanafin and Andrews face each other in tight battle

ine Kerr and Fiach Kelly

TWO cabinet ministers last night signed up for an intensive election battle in which one -- or both -- could lose their seat in Dun Laoghaire.

The nomination of Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin and Children's Minister Barry Andrews to contest the same constituency put an end to weeks of speculation over whether one of them should move to Dublin South where there is a vacancy.

There are concerns about a split in the Fianna Fail vote at a time when the constituency is being reduced from a five-seater to a four-seater.

Surprisingly, the selection convention in Fitzpatrick's Castle Hotel in Killiney, was closed off to the media.

Speaking ahead of last night's vote by local Dun Laoghaire Fianna Fail members, Ms Hanafin said the election ahead will be "difficult".

"When you are reduced to four seats at a difficult time for Fianna Fail, it undoubtedly makes it very, very challenging. But I'm up for it."

And she accepted that Fianna Fail candidates have to be ready for a backlash from voters on the doorsteps.

Mr Andrews said he had never considered moving to the neighbouring constituency of Dublin South.

Retaining the two seats in Dun Laoghaire will be a "massive battle", Mr Andrews said.

The atmosphere among the electorate was "quite charged".

Ms Hanafin said his name resonated in South Dublin.

Ms Hanafin was first elected to Dun Laoghaire in 1997, alongside the father of Mr Andrews, David.

At the last General Election, Ms Hanafin was ahead of him by 3,297. The two ministers will now contest the election against Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, Fine Gael TD Sean Barrett and Green Party junior minister Ciaran Cuffe.

One of the five sitting TDs will lose their seat.

And a second Government-supporting TD could lose out to the likes of Labour Senator Ivan Bacik, Fine Gael councillor Mary Mitchell O'Connor and People Before Profit councillor Richard Boyd-Barrett.

Meanwhile Fine Gael selected a young councillor to run alongside high-profile TD Lucinda Creighton in Dublin South East.

Secured

Dublin City Councillor Eoghan Murphy (28) and Ms Creighton secured their places on the ticket after a third nominee, former election candidate Colm MacEochaidh, withdrew.

The pair had been seen as big rivals in the constituency, with Mr Murphy favoured by the party leadership.

Fianna Fail also selected sitting European Affairs Minister Dick Roche and Cllr Pat Fitzgerald from Arklow to contest the General Election in Wicklow.

Other candidates include Fine Gael outgoing TDs Billy Timmins and Andrew Doyle, plus Cllr Simon Harris, Labour's Ann Ferris plus Cllrs Conan Kavanagh and Minister Liam Kavanagh and Cllr Tom Fortune and Cllr John Brady for Sinn Fein.

Irish Independent

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