Fianna Fáil has moved to quell internal rumblings after party leader Micheál Martin’s parliamentary assistant was unveiled as a local election candidate.
Mary Rose Desmond, who works in Mr Martin’s constituency office in Turner’s Cross, Cork, was added to the ticket over the weekend. The decision has infuriated some members of the party in Cork, coming in the wake of the addition of Mr Martin’s niece, Kate, to the ticket to contest a city council ward. His brother, Seán, is running to retain his city council seat.
“People are now calling it the ‘Micheál Martin party’ rather than the Fianna Fáil party. Nobody seemed to have any idea of this latest move,” one member said.
He expressed concern about how Ms Desmond’s name was added to the list of three previously selected candidates that Fianna Fáil plans to run in the 10-seat Carrigaline- Ballincollig electoral area.
The other candidates, Seamus McGrath, Pádraic Vallely, and Daithí Ó Donnabháin, were approved by grassroots party members at a selection convention in December. Two are also parliamentary assistants. Mr McGrath, the Carrigaline- based county councillor, works for his brother, Fianna Fáil finance spokesman, Micheal McGrath, and Mr Vallely works for Louth TD Seamus Quirke.
The party member said they had made preparations for the election campaign based on a three-candidate strategy, and were only informed of Ms Desmond’s addition to the ticket by phone on Friday.
However, a Fianna Fáil spokesman insisted it was always the party’s intention to run four candidates in this electoral area, and that, due to unforeseen circumstances, the fourth candidate could not be announced in December.
The spokesman said it is not unusual for the central election committee to add new candidates later — with 29 added to the ticket around the country since conventions took place.
He said Mr Martin is not a member of the central election committee and would have had no direct role in the selection or addition of candidates.
“Ms Desmond is a long standing party member and is a former scout leader in Douglas. She has also been a member of Cork Lions’ Club for many years,” said the spokesman.
Ms Desmond said she was delighted to be chosen as a candidate, and felt it was crucially important to have more female voices in local politics.
She also said she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received from within the party and the community since the announcement.
“I look forward to meeting with the people of the constituency and I am keen to hear their views and concerns over the coming months,” said Ms Desmond.
“I also look forward to working closely with my colleagues in Ballincollig- Carrigaline to maximise the vote and send a strong team of Fianna Fáil councillors back to County Hall.
“I believe that the skills I have developed over the years as a parliamentary assistant can help me offer effective representation for local people on the issues that matter to them.”
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