Fianna Fáil councillor blasts party over one seat strategy

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

On the up: Cllr Eddie Ryan gets a lift from Niall Collins TD, and his son Malacky Ryan, at the local election count last May
COUNCILLOR Eddie Ryan has blasted his own party over their recommendation to run just one candidate in the Limerick constituency to contest the next general election, saying “I think the fight is not in Fianna Fáil”.

COUNCILLOR Eddie Ryan has blasted his own party over their recommendation to run just one candidate in the Limerick constituency to contest the next general election, saying “I think the fight is not in Fianna Fáil”.

The party is to hold a selection convention in the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare next Thursday as it steps up its plans for the next election.

According to Cllr Ryan, the National Constituencies Committee has recommended that one candidate be selected at the convention to contest the three-seater Limerick constituency.

The Galbally-based councillor who has been nominated to go forward for selection, has deemed the strategy to be “flawed” and “very weak”.

“If they only run one candidate in an area where Fianna Fáil have held two out of three seats since almost 1948 - I think the fight is not in Fianna Fáil and that is the message they are giving out. And to have the convention so early doesn’t make an awful lot of sense either,” he said.

The last possible date for a general election is April 9, 2016. With speculation increasing that the general election will take place next year, Fianna Fáil is also to host selection conventions in Dublin and Cork next week. The closing date for nominations for the Limerick constituency is next Tuesday, with voting to take place on Thursday evening.

Justice spokesperson Niall Collins who currently holds the only Fianna Fáil seat in the constituency - Fine Gael’s Dan Neville and Patrick O’Donovan hold the remaining two seats - will be putting his name forward for selection at the convention.

“This is not about Niall Collins or challenging Niall Collins,” said Cllr Ryan, “it’s about challenging the thinking of Fianna Fail not having the fight in them for an election.

“If Dan Neville and Patrick O’Donovan are the only two nominated by Fine Gael, which you expect would be the case, and Niall Collins is the only one nominated by Fianna Fáil, we are looking at a non-event in their eyes.”

Cllr Ryan, who took the second seat in the seven-seater Cappamore-Kilmallock electoral area in the local elections last May, said if the party is to run a second candidate then they have “a serious chance” of taking a second seat.

“This is not about Niall Collins or Eddie Ryan. It is about taking the fight to the Government, against this very unpopular government. We have to take them on, at the doorsteps, and if we run more than one candidate I absolutely think we have a serious chance of getting it. The second candidate is going to bring something to the table in any event. If John Cregan had remained in the race the last time, I still think he had a fighting chance of holding his seat.”

The Galbally-based farmer said a number of people have approached him to go forward as “everything seems to be geared towards the west of the county and it’s time that we have somebody making a challenge from this side and that’s what I’m doing”.

“From Galbally to Glin is 65 miles and we are 52 miles to Abbeyfeale, the area is stretching all the way down to Doon and all the way back the west. It’s a massive area and we are putting no-one up in this area and for that reason I’m putting my name forward for the convention.”

Deputy Niall Collins said he doesn’t mind how many candidates the party decides to run.

“That’s not my decision, it’s the decision of the national executive so whatever they decide, it’s absolutely within their remit to decide. I’m happy to abide by whatever the national executive decides,” he said.

In relation to Cllr Ryan’s remarks that Fianna Fáil could take two seats if they were to run a second candidate, Deputy Collins remarked: “Absolutely, the whole political landscape in terms of the Government dominance has changed and we have seen how unpopular the Government has become. It’s a completely changed landscape.”