Wednesday 17 July 2019

Turmoil in Donegal over who should run in election

Fianna Fail spokesman on education Charlie McConalogue
Fianna Fail spokesman on education Charlie McConalogue

Greg Harkin

FIANNA Fáil in Co Donegal is in turmoil over who should run in next year's General Election, with a meeting called to merge constituencies descending into a 'farce'.

The county's two six-seat constituencies have been merged into one five-seater.

However, old divisions re-emerged amid fears at party headquarters of a split if former TD Niall Blaney isn't selected to run in the merged Donegal constituency.

The party has just one TD in the county, the party's education spokesman Charlie McConalogue.

There is now a four-way fight over who should stand for the party, with even suggestions within the ranks that McConalogue should be ousted.

Former Tánaiste Mary Coughlan has ruled herself out of the running. Party insiders say Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher is the only realistic candidate who could garner votes across a constituency where he took 23,000 votes at the European elections.

However the 67-year-old is said by friends to be undecided, citing a perceived lack of support from Micheál Martin during the Euro elections battle.

To add to the parish pump battle, party supporters in the main town, Letterkenny, are insisting a candidate must come from that general area.

The party's leader on Donegal County Council Ciaran Brogan has said he won't stand, but has insisted a candidate must come from Letterkenny.

The behind-closed-doors meeting descended into farce when it emerged Niall Blaney hadn't paid his party membership and a row ensued over who could actually vote for members of its executive.

A deal was only reached after 150 delegates agreed to draw out the final positions by picking names out of a hat with one source saying: "It was like something out of 'Irish Pictorial Weekly'. The meeting was bitter and divided and the reality is there is probably only one seat up for grabs."

Irish Independent

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