THE upcoming Fianna Fail selection convention in the new Adare Rathkeale electoral area could yet prove to be contentious. No date has yet been fixed for the convention but, in light of what is happening in some other electoral areas, including Limerick City West, things could get heated.
Already, there is concern and some ambiguity about the method of voting.
For the first time, each party member is entitled to vote at convention, a change from the old system of delegates representing each party cumann. But at Fianna Fail’s Limerick City West convention a little over ten days ago, the electoral area was sub-divided into three and members were only allowed to vote for candidates from within their own sub-division. For some of those involved, this left a bitter aftertaste.
It has also given rise to some concern that the same will occur in the Adare Rathkeale convention. Speaking to the Limerick Leader this Wednesday, Niall Collins TD could not say whether or not this would be the case. “I have no part whatsoever in conventions in my own constituency,” he said, adding that all conventions are managed by party head-quarters and the national executive.
But he expected that all factors would be taken into account before head-office would consider or decide on any sub-division:National executive member and prospective candidate Emmett O’Brien said: “I believe every member wants an open convention where every member would have a choice for the entire local electoral area. That is what I expect will happen and that is what we all want.”
Another prospective candidate, James Cavanagh from Adare, a former councillor who failed to retain his seat in 2009, has a different view. “That is a new one on me,” he said when asked about sub-divisions. But he thought a sub-division might be the “fairest way” as members would know the candidates from their own sub-division. He pointed out, however, that nomination papers had not even been issued yet for Adare Rathkeale.
“If it delivers the number of candidates you decide you want into strategic areas, I would not be against it,” Cllr Kevin Sheahan said. The electoral areas had increased considerably in size, he pointed out, and members at one end would not necessarily be very familiar with candidates from a different end.
“I said at the outset I was in favour of candidates being strategically placed in centres of population. If you have your entire team in one half of the pitch, you don’t stand a chance,” he said. “Don’t bundle them all into one corner. Somebody has to make a decision to make that work.”
When pressed as to how a sub-division might affect him, Cllr Sheahan said: .”My only interest is in getting myself nominated I am not in any pact or deal or arrangement with anybody.”
Two other party members have indicated they want to be on the ticket. They are Seamus Sheahan Croom who stood as an independent in 2009 but is now back in the fold and Richard O’Donoghue, who stood in the old Kilmallock area in 2009 and who polled 764 first preference votes.
The party’s selection convention in Newcastle West passed off without controversy with four nominations and four candidates selected. The Cappamore Kilmallock selection convention takes place this Friday but it is not known yet whether voting will be by sub-division.