Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and his team have been attacked by several of their own party’s Seanad candidates over a controversial diktat as to who to vote for.
Party bosses have issued voting instructions to councillors, TDs, and outgoing senators in preference of 10 candidates — many of whom failed to get elected to the Dáil — on the Seanad panels.
Mr Martin has repeated his actions of 2011 where he controversially plumped for a number of selected candidates in a bid to maximise the party’s platform for the next general election.
On the latest list are failed Dáil candidates Jennifer Cuffe, Catherine Ardagh, Mary Fitzpatrick, Paul McAuliffe, Connie Gerety Quinn, Michael Smith, and Lorraine Clifford Lee.
However, a number of other candidates, who are not being promoted by headquarters, are furious at the intervention, which they feel could scupper their chances.
Malcolm Byrne, a Gorey councillor, has spoken out against the issuing of the diktat saying the interference is not welcome.
“The leadership of the party would be better off leaving it to the councillors to decide who to vote for, as being honest, they would have a better chance of knowing who the best people are,” he told the Irish Examiner.
Mr Byrne is seeking nomination to the Cultural and Education Panel, but so is Ms Clifford Lee and Ms Cuffe, both of whom are on the headquarters’ list.
Mr Byrne, who is also communications director with the Higher Education Authority, says the track records of the candidates should be decided upon by the electorate alone, without the instruction from on high.
The list of instructions was issued by Clare TD and Seanad director of elections, Timmy Dooley.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, he defended the list, saying it was the duty of the party to identify and assist candidates who could stand a chance at winning Dáil seats in the future.
“Anyone identified and who is on the list is of course happy to be on it, there are others who naturally enough are not happy about it. But we as a party have a duty to pick people who can win Dáil seats,” he said.
Mr Byrne himself has courted controversy by securing nominations from a number of TDs and Oireachtas members without the consent of headquarters.
For the panels, the poll will close at 11am next Monday, with the poll for the universities closing 24 hours later.
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