Saturday 24 February 2018

Senior figures in FF try to halt election bid by Lenihan family

The late Brian Lenihan with Brian Cowen
The late Brian Lenihan with Brian Cowen
Anita Lenihan: 'political family'

Daniel McConnell, Political Correspondent

SENIOR figures within Fianna Fail are actively discouraging the sister of former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan from running in the Dublin West by-election.

Anita Lenihan, a qualified barrister, has confirmed to the Irish Independent her intention to seek election to the late Mr Lenihan's old Dail seat.

But some senior FF officials prefer local councillor David McGuinness.

Mr McGuinness was the party's candidate for the 2011 by-election and surprised many by finishing second to Patrick Nulty, who resigned as a TD last month.

"He did very well in the 2011 by-election and deserves to be given another chance," one senior TD said last night.

However, Ms Lenihan told the Irish Independent that she intends to contest next Monday's Fianna Fail convention for the Dublin West seat.

"I am in the process of putting my nomination together and it is my intention to contest the convention. I am ready for the challenge so I am putting my name forward," she said.

"I have a strong sense of public service, which you get in a political family like ours," she added.

Ms Lenihan has been very active in the Fianna Fail organisation in Dublin West and had been approached to run in 2011 after her brother's death.

"I didn't feel the time was right then, but now I am full of enthusiasm for the challenge," she added.


The by-election is set to be held on May 23, the same day as the local and European elections.

The Irish Independent understands that the Fianna Fail party leadership had initially been keen on her to run a couple of weeks ago, but have since cooled on the idea.

"Anita was called by Micheal Martin about running. She sent an email 10 days ago to head office but has not received a reply," a source said.

Internal feuding within the Dublin West Fianna Fail organisation emerged last night over Ms Lenihan's decision to stand. "There are some of the more snooty members from Castleknock who simply don't want McGuinness, who is from Blanchardstown, to be the candidate. They feel a Lenihan name must be on the ticket," one FF figure said last night.

Socialist candidate Ruth Coppinger is seen as the favourite for the Dail seat.

Meanwhile the daughter of Social Protection Minister Joan Burton moved to quash speculation that she plans to stand as the Labour candidate.

Aoife Carroll, who is a serving barrister, said: "I'm not running this time round.

"I am out canvassing for both the local and European elections but I will not be running for Labour in the by-election."

Fine Gael's candidate is the former world champion runner and senator Eamonn Coghlan, while Paul Donnelly is standing for Sinn Fein.

The sitting TDs are Fine Gael's Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and the Socialist Party's Joe Higgins.

Irish Independent

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