‘Dublin-proof’ policies in bid to recover support

Fianna Fáil will “Dublin-proof” all future party policies in a bid to recover votes in the capital.

They will also appoint additional “local area representatives” in parts of Dublin where they have no councillors.

The capital represents arguably Fianna Fáil’s greatest challenge in terms of rebuilding the party. The death of former finance minister Brian Lenihan left Fianna Fáil without a TD in Dublin.

Fianna Fáil has three Dublin-based senators — Darragh O’Brien, Averil Power and Mary White — and less than 20 councillors.

However, the limited presence in Dublin was not caused by the party’s recent unpopularity alone.

A report conducted for headquarters by former ministers Chris Flood and Gerry Collins in the wake of Fianna Fáil’s disastrous showing in the 2009 local elections revealed its support in Dublin had been eroding for over a decade.

In the case of Dublin City Council, for example, the party’s share of the vote fell from 34.67% in 1999 to 22.97% in 2004 and 18.10% in 2009.

Fianna Fáil overlooked this erosion in support at the time because its TDs continued to win Dáil seats in Dublin in the 2002 and 2007 general elections.

The ard fheis heard this was because the TDs had their own individual power bases. When they retired or lost their seats, their supporters faded with them rather than staying to help the party, one delegate said.

The party is actively seeking to recruit and rebuild its presence in Dublin.

Four local area representatives have been appointed in areas such as Balbriggan and Ballyfermot and party leader Micheál Martin said more will follow.

“We want people on the ground carrying the Fianna Fáil flag in housing estates across the city and across the county of Dublin,” he said.

Mr O’Brien is chairing a dedicated “Dublin group” within Fianna Fáil that will seek to drive party policy on issues in the capital. He said all national party policy would be “Dublin-proofed” to ensure the needs of citizens in the capital are considered.

Meanwhile. there was surprise in party circles last night when Mr Collins was beaten to one of the five vice presidents’ positions in the party by former TD Margaret Conlon.

Mr Collins had been instrumental in selling party structural reforms to the membership and had been expected to win one of the positions.


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