Monday 11 December 2017

Debt campaigner mulls joining Fianna Fail MEP race

David Hall
David Hall

John Drennan Political Editor

MORTGAGE arrears campaigner David Hall is actively considering entering the race for the Fianna Fail candidacy for the European elections in Dublin, the Sunday Independent has learned.

But tensions are also emerging over the return of the party's old guard, with Fianna Fail senator Darragh O'Brien stating he is "not personally supportive" of former minister Mary Hanafin being the party candidate.

However, the prospect of former Fine Gael TD Peter Mathews being the party's candidate can be ruled out. One Fianna Fail source asked: "Is it April 1 already?"

In a further indication of the internal friction over the nomination, supporters of Ms Hanafin have warned against selecting Senator Averil Power, as her seat in the Seanad would be taken by the Government if she was elected.

The recovery of FF's vote in Dublin is regarded as a pivotal part of Micheal Martin's revival plans for the party.

The only declared candidates for the nomination so far are party activist Tiernan Brady, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network policy director; and former Senator Geraldine Feeney.

Rather than approaching Mr Mathews, Fianna Fail sources say the party hierarchy is looking far more favourably at the possible candidacy of Mr Hall.

The mortgage arrears advocate was associated with Fianna Fail in his younger days and has already been approached by a number of senior party members to run.

Mr Hall said he has yet to decide if he will seek the nomination and was consulting with his family.

"I am seriously considering the approach but the most important convention I must face is a wife and two children in Castleknock," he told the Sunday Independent.

The ambitions of Ms Hanafin to return to national politics have been dealt a serious blow by the warning by Senator O'Brien that he doesn't want her as the candidate.

"I am not personally supportive of the attempt by Mary Hanafin to contest the European elections," he said.

"Whilst she is entitled to contest the convention, in my opinion running Mary Hanafin, for all her abilities, would not be compatible with the stated ambition to create a new politics within FF," he said.

Ms Hanafin, a former Cabinet minister, has an impressive political CV, having served in cabinet with two former Fianna Fail Taoisigh -- Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen.

But Senator O'Brien wants the party candidate to come from the new generation.

"Fianna Fail needs to target a new generation of politicians, there is a younger pool of candidates coming through in Dublin, both for the council and Europe, it is from this generation that Fianna Fail should pick," he said.

"How Fianna Fail perform on the European election contest will have a critical impact on the party's council results," he said. "We need a candidate for the EU seat that will complement our council candidates," he added.

But sources close to Ms Hanafin say running Ms Power would ease the pressure on the Coalition in the Seanad.

"The current delicate nature of the balance of power in the Seanad, where the Government no longer has a majority means it would be unwise to select Ms Power," a source told the Sunday Independent.

Fianna Fail sources believe the number of former ministers talking about running again is bad for the party.

"All these ghosts from the past, O'Donoghue, Mary Coughlan and now Hanafin, they are doing us, they are doing the leader no good, they are from a Fianna Fail the people don't want," a source said.

Irish Independent

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