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Fianna Fáil strategy fuels speculation of deal with Healy-Rae brothers

Fianna Fáil strategy fuels speculation of deal with Healy-Rae brothers

Fianna Fáil's strategy to leave Killarney and east Kerry without a candidate and concentrate on north Kerry is fuelling speculation that there is a pre-election "understanding" between the party and the Healy-Rae brothers that they will support Micheál Martin as Taoiseach.

Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin have a seat each, and two seats are held by Healy-Rae brothers, Danny and Michael, in the five-seater single constituency.

Asked about a pre-election "deal", Danny Healy-Rae said he had not been approached. However his brother Michael said he did not wish to comment on the matter.

“My first deal is with the people of Kerry,” said Michael, who is expected to romp home again.

Pressed on the matter, he said “no comment” on whether Micheál Martin or Fianna Fáil had approached him for support.

Michael got the highest first preference vote in the country last year clearing 20,378 first preferences - well over the quota of 13,213 votes.

Danny got over 12%, the next highest in the constituency and just ahead of Fine Gael’s Brendan Griffin.

The pair divided the constituency in 2016, along the original Kerry North/Kerry South lines after Danny put his name forward at the eleventh hour, issuing a map to their supporters.

Well-informed Fianna Fáil sources have pointed to a deal with Micheál Martin made a number of weeks ago.

A separate senior Fianna Fáil source in Kerry did not rule out “an understanding” with the Healy-Raes.

He said he had “no doubt” if it were to come to a vote between Varakdar and Martin, the Healy-Raes would back Martin.

“It is no secret Micheál Martin and Michael Healy-Rae are friendly,” the source said.

Mr Martin had also had a good relationship with the late Jackie Healy-Rae, the source added.

"It’s a well-known fact their roots are within Fianna Fáil,” the source said.

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