Fianna Fáil hopeful warns party HQ to butt out
Fianna Fáil general election hopeful Cormac Devlin has warned against "uninformed, outside influences" playing a role in the selection of the party's candidate in the Dún Laoghaire constituency.
Mr Devlin said the selection process in the constituency was a matter solely for members - a clear swipe at Fianna Fáil headquarters.
The Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor was responding to an Irish Independent report that Fianna Fáil strategists were hatching a plan aimed at ensuring former minister Mary Hanafin emerges as the party's candidate.
Fianna Fáil's strategy in the election is to target the seat held by Eamon Gilmore, the former Labour Party leader.
Party bosses are convinced Ms Hanafin is best placed to take a seat - despite previously trying to derail her efforts at making a return to politics.
It is now expected that councillor Jennifer Cuffe will pull out of the selection process, leaving Ms Hanafin to fend off a challenge from Mr Devlin and their council colleague Kate Feeney.
In a boost to Ms Hanafin, the Irish Independent can reveal that several of Ms Cuffe's supporters are set to support the former minister at the upcoming convention.
Meanwhile, Ms Feeney has yet to declare her intentions.
Although Mr Devlin is seen as having the numbers to win convention, party headquarters are considering how best to ensure Ms Hanafin is on the ticket.
But Mr Devlin said that the convention must not be interfered with.
"If Seán Barrett remains in place as Ceann Comhairle, Dún Laoghaire will be a three-seat constituency, in which case a one-candidate strategy would be the only option for Fianna Fáil," Mr Devlin said.
"The candidate selection convention in Dún Laoghaire must be open and fair, free from uninformed outside influences.
"The best-placed people to select a candidate are the members on the ground who know their communities and who have also worked with the various potential candidates and know who has the best chance of getting the transfers.
"They stuck with the party in the hard times and they deserve the right to choose the right candidate now that we are going in the right direction again."
Mr Devlin also suggested that the party had become too obsessed with holding focus groups and called for more emphasis on the members' views.