FORMER minister Mary Hanafin has made a last-ditch plea to voters ahead of the Dun Laoghaire selection convention, warning that Fianna Fail’s future as a party hinges on its success in the general election.
Ms Hanafin is now in a three-way battle with councillors Cormac Devlin and Kate Feeney ahead of Monday’s selection convention, after the party opted against issuing a gender diktat.
Senior party sources are continuing to claim Ms Hanafin has the strongest chance of taking a seat, however, there is an acceptance Mr Devlin has the necessary support to win the convention.
The party will then decide to either add Ms Hanafin or Ms Feeney to the ticket as Mr Devlin’s running mate, or else allow him to run as a sole candidate.
In a letter to party delegates this week, seen by the Herald, the ex-TD said she was “best placed” to take a seat for Fianna Fail given her track record in politics.
“The forthcoming general election is crucial for Fianna Fail, both in Dun Laoghaire and nationally, and our future as a party depends on our success,” Ms Hanafin wrote.
She said she cannot meet delegates individually in the coming days because she is speaking at a conference in St Petersburg, Russia.
“As I am the only Irish invitee, it is not possible for me to pull out,” she added.
The decision by the party to allow the convention to take place without a issuing a gender diktat came after Mr Devlin made it clear he would take legal action if he was blocked from contesting the election.
Ms Feeney also stated that she would publicly back Mr Devlin in any legal action.
Late on Wednesday night, Fianna Fail National Constituencies Committee (NCC) chairperson Michael Moynihan released a statement insisting the party received no legal threat.
“The decision was made after very careful consideration of electoral strategy,” Cork North West TD Moynihan said.
“No correspondence relating to any legal actions or threat of legal actions was received in advance of this decision being communicated to the candidates.”
Nonetheless, the party has been criticised for engaging in so-called “gendermandering” in a number of constituencies to date.
A diktat was issued which prevented any male candidate from even contesting the Dublin South Central and Dublin Central constituencies.
In Louth and Galway East, the party directed that one male and one female must be selected.