Saturday 16 December 2017

Senior FF figures back plan not to run candidate in Aras election

Sam Smyth

SENIOR Fianna Fail figures are backing leader Micheal Martin's plan not to run a party candidate in the presidential election.

A majority on the sub-committee advising on the party's strategy on the presidential election is opposed to fielding a candidate, the Irish Independent has learned.

It comes in the wake of the withdrawal of MEP Brian Crowley from the race after he questioned Mr Martin's judgment on the election.

Only the deputy leader Eamon O Cuiv is fully convinced that Fianna Fail should field an internal candidate, but he said that he would support the decision made by the parliamentary party.

Mayo TD Dara Calleary has not yet decided, but the other members -- Kildare South TD Sean O Fearghail, Clare TD Timmy Dooley and Senator Darragh O'Brien -- are understood to support the leader's view.

And Mr Martin remains convinced that running a candidate in an election that the party couldn't win would divert energy from the upcoming local and European elections.

One senior FF source said that funding a presidential campaign would cost around €700,000 when the party was €2m in debt would be a terrible waste of money.

Mr Martin will attend the sub-committee's first meeting next Monday when Mr O Fearghail, the whip, is expected to take the chair.

One member of the committee stressed that it could only make recommendations and that the parliamentary party would take the final decision.

The parliamentary party will hear the sub-committee's advice and is expected to make its decision on the presidential election when it meets next Wednesday.

The deputy leader, Mr O Cuiv, said yesterday that he believed Fianna Fail should field a candidate for the presidential election.

Speaking on Raidio na Gaeltachta, Mr O Cuiv refused to be drawn on whether or not he would put himself forward as a candidate.

Senior party sources said the parliamentary party was more evenly split than the sub-committee but believed it would decide not to run a candidate.

"It is unlikely that as a party we would support any other candidate, even an Independent, although individual TDs and senators will be permitted to support a candidate," said the source.


He added: "But the way things are for the party now, I doubt if Sean Gallagher or Mary Davis, the Independent candidates, would want an endorsement from Fianna Fail."

Supporters of Mr Crowley were urging him to contest the presidential election as an Independent, according to reports from Cork.

However, senior party sources said they did not believe Mr Crowley would run as an independent, but that the controversy would ensure his victory at the next European election.

Mr Crowley was receiving treatment for an injury in a Cork hospital yesterday and was not available for comment.

Irish Independent

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