FF adds Crowe to election ticket

FIANNA FÁIL yesterday moved to bring an end to a bitter row over selection policy in Galway West by announcing Councillor Michael Crowe would be the party’s third candidate in the general election next year.

Mr Crowe, from Bohermore in Galway City, was an independent until this year but joined Fianna Fáil in the expectation that he would be added to the party ticket alongside TDs Eamon Ó Cuiv and Frank Fahey.

He joined weeks after the party’s selection convention was abandoned amid acrimony over the number of candidates to be selected. Party headquarters had insisted on a three-candidate strategy against the wishes of some local delegates.

Following the row, Fianna Fáil’s National Constituencies Committee ruled the convention would not be reconvened. The committee announced Mr Ó Cuiv and Mr Fahey as candidates and said it would choose a third candidate by interview.

Since announcing his decision to join Fianna Fáil, Mr Crowe’s nomination has been widely anticipated.

Yesterday he said he intended to challenge for a third Fianna Fáil seat in the constituency.

Party headquarters hope the decision will quell the divisions locally.

John Joe Higgins, the Chairman of Galway West Comhairle Dáil Cheanntair, had argued for the convention to be reconvened.

He told the Irish Examiner yesterday that he would have been happier if it had taken place but said there was a sense of relief that a decision had been reached.

“The first thing is that I welcome Michael Crowe as the third candidate,” he said.

“It will be a challenge for officers and the leadership in Galway West to bring us forward as a united team. I am confident we can do that.”

While the party’s two TDs are expected to retain their seats, the consensus locally is that Mr Crowe will have an uphill battle to win it a third seats.

There is always one guaranteed Fine Gael seat and Cllr Brian Walsh is expected to fill the vacancy left by Pádraig McCormack, who is retiring.

The two seats considered most vulnerable are those of Progressive Democrat TD Noel Grealish and Michael D Higgins of the Labour Party. The Green Party’s Niall Ó Brolchain, who is currently Mayor of Galway, is expected to mount a strong challenge and former Labour Councillor Catherine Connolly’s decision to stand as an independent will affect Mr Higgins first preference votes.

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