Fianna Fail set for civil war as big names face-off for EU vote
Fianna Fail is facing a civil war on the bank of the River Lee as two of the party's big names in Cork go to battle over a coveted seat in EU parliament.
Fianna Fail business spokesman Billy Kelleher shocked party colleagues when he announced plans to put his name forward for EU election in May. Mr Kelleher, who represents Cork North Central, will now go head-to-head for a Fianna Fail nomination with the brother of his frontbench colleague and Cork South Central TD, Micheal McGrath.
Cork City Councillor Seamus McGrath publicly announced he would seek a nomination for the Ireland South constituency on the same day as Mr Kelleher. The Sunday Independent revealed Mr McGrath's intention to run before Christmas but he held off making an announcement until long-time MEP Brian Crowley announced his retirement from European politics.
Speaking about his election plans for the first time, Mr McGrath took aim at Mr Kelleher's decision to enter the race after Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin insisted TDs should focus on the next general election.
"I will be making the point that we need to have our strongest team going forward for the general election and we don't need to compromise with the European elections because there are good candidates out there who will not impact on the Dail election whenever it comes," Mr McGrath told the Sunday Independent.
Mr McGrath said he believes the public are looking for "new faces" and "fresh ideas" rather than candidates who are "coming off the back of their national careers".
The former Lord Mayor of Cork said he has received strong messages of support from within the party since he announced his candidacy.
Sources close to Mr Kelleher said running councillors would give the impression "Fianna Fail is not serious about the EU Parliament".
Meanwhile, Mr Martin could be facing a further headache as it has emerged that Offaly TD Barry Cowen is also open to running in Ireland South constituency in May's EU election.