Border battle puts FG double at risk

FINE Gael is determined to see two of its biggest hitters join the growing list of civil wars exploding in Cork East.

In recent days the relationship between Fianna Fáil’s candidates has become poisoned and the internal Labour Party spat has ignited.

Yesterday, on the day party leader Enda Kenny visited the constituency, Fine Gael’s northern brigade lit its touch paper.

There the supporters of Mallow-based candidate Paul Bradford said the party’s rigid vote management strategy was threatening its prospects of winning two seats.

His supporters have said the agreement to divide the constituency in two is biased in favour of his Midleton colleague David Stanton.

Councillor Liam O’Doherty said unless Mr Bradford is allowed fight for 1,500 votes south of the agreed border he will not challenge Labour’s Sean Sherlock.

“The other parties know their internal battles will get the vote out, Michael Ahern’s people will come out just to vote against Ned (O’Keefe) and the same for John Mulvihill coming out to get at Sean Sherlock.

“The way this constituency breaks down all the smaller parties are at the other end so the transfers are not going to go up to Paul Bradford, you cannot see Sandra McLellan’s (Sinn Féin) votes coming up here.

“We know Paul needs between 700 and 1,500 votes from the southern end of the constituency if he is going to be elected,” he said.

Cork East is not a four-seat constituency in the traditional sense.

Instead, the north-south split and the arrangement of candidates makes it a pair of two-seaters.

Over the weekend Cobh’s Labour Party representative John Mulvihill lambasted his colleague Sean Sherlock for not playing by the rules.

In contrast Mr Bradford’s men feel unless the rules in the FG camp are cast aside for the last few hours of the campaign the party will lose the chance to claim a second seat.

However, this week a letter has been sent out by the local director of elections, Colm Burke, stressing the official line.

He said the border still applies and all voters should stick by it.

“At the end of the day we are fighting for two seats, we are satisfied we have the support if we have a properly managed vote strategy,” he said.

Mr Burke said the last time out FG’s tactics cost Mr Bradford his seat and he is confident this will change if the party sticks to the strategy adopted on day one of the campaign.

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