Election 2019 home

FG bid to 'save two seats' in Ireland South

FG bid to 'save two seats' in Ireland South

Fine Gael is deeply divided after it was forced to “revise” its division of the Ireland South constituency in order to bolster MEP Deirdre Clune's flagging campaign, just 48 hours before polling.

Letters issued in parts of the vast constituency by Director of Elections Regina Doherty have called on voters in Limerick and Tipperary to give Ms Clune their number 1 votes in order to ensure Fine Gael keeps its two seats in the European Parliament.

Ms Doherty's letter called on voters in the city to vote for Ms Clune ahead of her party colleagues Sean Kelly, who is all but assured of a seat and junior agriculture minister Andrew Doyle, who is seen as a sweeper in Leinster.

But Mr Doyle and his camp are furious at the diktat, which they say was issued "without any consultation."

Pat Deering, TD for Carlow-Kilkenny, and Mr Doyle's campaign manager told the Irish Examiner that the team is "very disappointed" with the letter issued by Ms Doherty, which was done as part of a protectionist policy to benefit the two sitting MEPs.

"If they wanted to protect the two candidates, then why run three. This is very disappointing, we were not consulted and I tell you what, we will be going into Tipperary and Limerick tomorrow," he said.

FG bid to 'save two seats' in Ireland South

Originally, Ms Clune had been given priority campaigning rights in Cork City and County, while Waterford and South Tipperary were to be shared with Mr Kelly.

However, with Mr Kelly looking likely to exceed the quota on the first count, Ms Doherty decided to hand Limerick over to Ms Clune.

"Recent polling has shown the party securing 30% of the vote...this puts us in a strong position to retain two seats. However, this is only possible if we can successfully share the vote. In order to achieve this, I have revised the initial division of the constituency and I am now asking Fine Gael members to vote Deirdre Clune number 1," Ms Doherty wrote in her letter, seen by the Irish Examiner.

Fine Gael is hoping that Mr Doyle does well enough to remain in the race long enough to transfer a big block of votes to help Ms Clune over the line, as happened in 2014 when now Health Minister Simon Harris played the sweeper role.

“She was elected off the back of Harris votes in 2014 but will she be helped this time around? It is not clear.”

Over the past 10 days, there has been a growing sense of concern within the party, that Ms Clune's seat is vulnerable, despite a large spend on posters in the Cork area and an aggressive vote management strategy by party bosses.

She has polled poorly in two polls, the latest one in the Sunday Business Post putting her in seventh place in the race for five seats.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil is very hopeful that it can take two of the five seats.

Sitting TD for Cork North-Central, Billy Kelleher is at the behest of his party leader concentrating his efforts in Cork City during the final days of the campaign but is expected to take a seat.

His running mate, Malcolm Byrne, has impressed during the campaign and is in contention of taking one of the last two seats.

More on this topic

Greens pledge to spend €50bn on retrofitting homes in election manifestoGreens pledge to spend €50bn on retrofitting homes in election manifesto

Jim  Power: Economic growth doesn’t automatically secure re-electionJim Power: Economic growth doesn’t automatically secure re-election

Juno McEnroe: Despite the suffering on our streets, nobody wants an electionJuno McEnroe: Despite the suffering on our streets, nobody wants an election

Clifford-Lee won’t be disciplined over tweet slursClifford-Lee won’t be disciplined over tweet slurs

More in this Section

Man, 60s, killed in Tipperary hit and runMan, 60s, killed in Tipperary hit and run

July 11 bonfires set to be lit at midnightJuly 11 bonfires set to be lit at midnight

Summer Provision to be extended to primary school students with special needs Summer Provision to be extended to primary school students with special needs

Two further Covid-19 related deaths, Department of Health confirmsTwo further Covid-19 related deaths, Department of Health confirms


Lifestyle

The long-tailed tit’s nest is an architectural marvel.Richard Collins: Altruism of the long-tailed tits or not

The flight that brought us home to Ireland after our seven months sojourn in the Canary Islands (half our stay intended, half not) was the most comfortable I’ve experienced in years. With a large plane almost entirely to yourself, you could again pretend you were somebody.Damien Enright: Wonderful to see the green, green grass of home

IRISH folklore is replete with stories of priests praying for fine weather to help farmers save their crops in wet summers. However, the opposite could soon be happening when divine powers may have to be invoked to provide rain. And not just for farmers.Donal Hickey: Praying for rain — in Ireland

Geography is often the defining factor for the destiny of an island. Those islands that lie close to the shore have often been snapped up by interests on the mainland and their morphology changed to something completely different.The Islands of Ireland: Tarbert morphed onto the mainland

More From The Irish Examiner