Fianna Fáil divided as councillors eye independent route

 Dan Kiely: Leaving FF 'with a very heavy heart'.

Splits are emerging in Fianna Fáil in Kerry, with three former party councillors expected to contest the May local elections as independent candidates.

Yesterday, Dan Kiely, a former Fianna Fáil senator, and Johnny Wall, a FF member of Tralee Town Council for 29 years, confirmed their resignations from the party.

Both had failed to win nominations at conventions and were unsuccessful in their bids to be added to the party tickets in their areas.

Tom Doherty, a former FF town councillor in Killarney, has already announced he will be standing as an independent. He had failed to get a nomination.

Mr Kiely and Mr Wall, who both said they had a lot of support, are considering their political futures and will be deciding in the coming days.

Mr Kiely, from Tarbert, said he was leaving FF “with a very heavy heart’’, while Mr Wall said he was “totally disappointed’’ after his long years of service to the party.

Mr Kiely said FF was ingrained in his DNA, as his late father had fought in the War of Independence and Civil War, and was appointed a personal bodyguard to the then party leader Éamon de Valera in 1933.

Mr Kiely said that since the last election, which he described as a “disaster’’ for FF, he had spent all his time rebuilding the organisation as chairman of the Listowel comhairle ceanntair.

He had received 182 votes at the convention and, encouraged by his supporters, requested to be added to the ticket.

But after being left waiting five months for a decision, a FF national executive meeting last Thursday was told by Michael Moynihan, a TD and national director of elections, that there would be no further additions until after the party’s ard fheis next month.

“I believe I’ve been badly treated by the organisation. I got 1,800 first-preference votes in the 2009 local elections and was not far from being elected,’’ Mr Kiely said.

“I will be meeting my family, friends, and supporters inside the coming week and if they feel I should run as an independent, that’s what I will do.’’

Fianna Fáil has nominated two candidates in the seven-seat Listowel electoral area — outgoing councillor John Brassil and Listowel town councillor Jimmy Moloney.

Mr Kiely claimed having just two candidates was a mistaken election strategy, arguing there would be a good chance of winning three seats with three candidates.

He also criticised FF leader Micheál Martin, saying he was the wrong man to lead the party and was “tainted’’ by being a member of the last government.

A member of Kerry County Council for 27 years, Mr Kiely was an unsuccessful FF candidate in the Kerry North Constituency in three general elections.

Fianna Fáil, meanwhile, has added Tralee town councillor and former Kerry county councillor Ted Fitzgerald to the party ticket. He will join Norma Foley and Thomas McEllistrim in the Tralee electoral area.


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