FF candidates ‘afraid’ to knock on doors

FIANNA FÁIL’S local election candidates are “afraid” to knock on voters’ doors, the main opposition parties claimed last night.

Labour city councillor Denis O’Flynn said he has heard reports in recent days of Fianna Fáil election literature being dropped through letter boxes after midnight. “They are like the Scarlet Pimpernel.”

Fine Gael city councillor Dara Murphy said the Fianna Fáil logo is virtually invisible on most of the party’s election posters. “They must be ashamed of the party.”

While some Fianna Fáil candidates fear a meltdown on election day, seasoned campaigners are quietly confident the local elections will not be used by voters as a referendum on the government’s performance. Cllr Tom O’Driscoll said public anger on the national issues is understandable, but, once people have vented their anger on the doorstep, discussion comes to local issues.

The party has 10 representatives on Cork City Council following Cllr Dave McCarthy’s decision to leave the party and stand as an independent. Following boundary changes, question marks hang over two of its remaining seats – its single remaining seat in the so-called ward of death in Cork north-west, which has been reduced from five to four seats, and its single seat in Cork north-east, which has also been reduced from five to four seats.

Fine Gael and Sinn Féin are targeting those areas.

In the history of the State, Fianna Fáil has failed to gain the upper hand in the west Cork division. In the Skibbereen electoral area, one of its current three seats could be snatched by either Labour or Sinn Féin, but Fine Gael, with excellent vote management in the region stretching from Cape Clear to Courtmacsherry, should return four councillors.

The focus will be on Christopher O’Sullivan, the youngest candidate. But his Government TD father, Christy’s, party machine should help him romp home –putting most at risk sitting FF councillor Joe Carroll.

John O’Sullivan (FG), who narrowly lost out five years ago, should benefit from party colleague’s Maura Cal McCarthy’s retirement.

Further west, Fine Gael has brought ex-Bantry town mayor Mary Hegarty into the fray, dissecting the party vote that could impact mainly on colleague John O’Shea. Co-opted Dermot Sheehan is a likely poll-topper here.

A change of personnel is likely in FF where at least one of the current councillors will be replaced.

In the north of the county, Fianna Fáil looks in reasonably good shape. Unless there’s a complete FF meltdown, Kevin O’Keeffe and Frank O’Flynn should maintain their seats in the Fermoy area. Dan Joe Fitzgerald looks safe in Mallow as well.

Labour are hoping to gain a seat in both Fermoy and Mallow.

However, they could be in trouble in other areas. Fianna Fáil might win a seat in Blarney, through Michael Burns, at the expense of Labour’s John Gilroy.

Labour’s Martin Coughlan could come under severe pressure in Macroom. The redrawing of the boundary to take in Ballincollig means Mark O’Keeffe (FF) and Derry Canty (FG) could ease him out.

Fianna Fáil’s Maurice Ahern could also come under pressure in Midleton.

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