Criticism over date of Fianna Fáil convention in Longford

Criticism over date of Fianna Fáil convention in Longford
Anne Rabbitte. Photo: Collins.

Former Donegal TD Niall Blayney is not happy with Fianna Fáil's plans to hold a European election selection convention for the North-West constituency in Longford on Friday, March 15.

Neither is his party colleague Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte, who, along with Mr Blayney is one of nine candidates seeking selection.

Mr Blayney told RTE radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that selection conventions are “predominantly” held on Sundays to make it easier for delegates to attend.

He said that conventions have “never been known to be held on a Friday before” and it was going to cause a lot of travel difficulties on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend.

It is going to be difficult for those on the periphery of the constituency to attend. Some of them are from up to 100km away. Any of those who work on a Friday won’t be able to attend.

Members of the party who “love elections” were upset and felt they were “unwanted.” This was discrimination against the membership, he said.

It seemed like a “cold, calculated effort to have their chosen candidate selected.”

There are nine candidates, seven from the periphery of the constituency who lived more than 100km from Longford.

At the very worst members should be given the option of other locations where they could cast their vote for the European election candidates. He suggested there should be four boxes across the constituency where they could vote.

Ms Rabbitte said she agreed with Mr Blayney’s comments and that a lot of delegates lived long distances from Longford. But she said that the conventions need to be held now so the party could have candidates in place.

She acknowledged that geographically Longford is the most central point in the constituency, but that the day on which the convention is going to be held is going to cause difficulty for some delegates. “It’s a big ask.”

Mr Blayney added: “the day is the biggest problem. It will be impossible to do a day’s work and get there (Longford) by 8pm.”

He said that the selection convention should have been held at an earlier date. “At the very worst if they want it on the Friday, give us the four locations.”

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