Martin forerunner in race for leadership

MICHEÁL MARTIN was first out of the blocks after the Fianna Fáil leadership became vacant — announcing his candidacy for the position and then watching as a steady stream of TDs declared support for him.

But the other leadership candidates insisted they had private assurances of support from TDs and the contest would not become a coronation of Mr Martin.

Among those who declared for Mr Martin were Cork TDs Billy Kelleher, Ned O’Keeffe, Noel O’Flynn, Michael McGrath and Michael Ahern.

Kerry TD John O’Donoghue, Clare TD Timmy Dooley, Limerick TDs Peter Power and Willie O’Dea and Dublin TDs Sean Haughey, Chris Andrews and Michael Mulcahy also declared for the former foreign affairs minister.

They were joined by Kildare TDs Sean Power and Michael Fitzpatrick.

Junior minister Seán Connick will propose Finance Minister Brian Lenihan for the leadership at Wednesday’s meeting of FF.

Mary Hanafin said she would be proposed by Community Minister Pat Carey and seconded by Tipperary TD Máire Hoctor.

Mr O Cuív has the backing of his fellow Galway TDs Frank Fahey and Michael Kitt, as well as Sligo TD Eamon Scanlon.

Mr Martin is an overwhelming favourite to win with bookmakers Paddy Power. He is rated a 1/7 chance with Mr Lenihan getting 4/1. Outsiders Éamon Ó Cuiv and Mary Hanafin are 16/1 and 20/1.

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