Election 2019 home

Micheál Martin defends party strategy in European elections

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has insisted it was not a mistake for the party to run two candidates in some MEP constituencies amid poll fears the tactic may see the party lose out on a seat.

Mr Martin said "it's not a risk" to run Billy Kelleher and Malcolm Byrne in Ireland South and Brendan Smith and Anne Rabbitte in Midlands North West, instead saying he is hopeful of winning "at least" one seat in each of the three MEP constituencies.

Speaking on RTE's Six One News, Mr Martin said he understands the analysis from some experts that running two candidates could see Fianna Fáil's vote split, potentially meaning they will lose out on winnable seats.

However, stressing both Ireland South and Midlands North West are "very large constituencies", he said "it's not a risk as far as we're concerned" as "we know from experience what's possible", adding in reference to Ireland South:

"It's very possible Billy Kelleher and Malcolm Byrne could win two seats there, they're geographically well positioned [Mr Kelleher is based in Cork and Mr Byrne in Wexford]."

Mr Martin separately downplayed the fact he initially told TDs not to contest the MEP elections amid fears their potential election could cause a snap general election due to the extremely tight Dáil numbers.

Asked about his early year demand, which was ignored by Mr Kelleher, Mr Smith and Ms Rabbitte, Mr Martin said:

Well, first of all, the members of the party choose at conventions the candidates, there were some additions after that, but ideally I articulated a view.

"I didn't, of course, force my position, and of course in retrospect it's a good idea for the profile of the candidates that they're well known, which is important."

More on this topic

Call to introduce local election gender quotas

Sinn Féin ard chomhairle meets for 'very honest conversation' after disastrous election performance

Green Party spearheads five-year deal to move Dublin towards 'zero-carbon' status

Opposition to have a say in when Dáil by-elections held