Seanad candidates angry as Fianna Fáil runs ‘preferred’ list

Fianna Fáil Seanad candidates have insisted party bosses assured them they would not run an “inner list” of preferred candidates.

Several aspirant and current senators have vented their fury after it was confirmed yesterday the party had selected a small group of candidates which its county councillors were called upon to support.

Clare TD and Seanad director of elections Timmy Dooley was criticised over the use of a list.

“We were given categorical assurances that no list would be operated and, lo and behold, we hear calls are being made in order to ensure some people are given preference,” said one senator.

Among the list of people being preferred are Jennifer Cuffe, Catherine Ardagh, Mary Fitzpatrick, Paul McAuliffe, Connie Gerety-Quinn, and Michael Smith.

Malcolm Byrne, a Gorey councillor, has spoken out against the diktat, saying the interference is not welcome.

Mr Byrne himself has angered many colleagues by securing nominations from TDs and Oireachtas members without the consent of headquarters.

He had been formally ratified by ex-Fianna Fáil senator Averil Power, who resigned from the party last year following a row with leader Micheál Martin.

He was also nominated by current TDs Bobby Aylward and Marc MacSharry, and Independent senator Mary Louise O’Donnell.

Mr Dooley has 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.

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