Failed Hanafin heave has Martin red-faced

"I missed you all," Mary Hanafin gushed to reporters in the manner of a faded film star who had just glimpsed the limelight once more thanks to a cameo role in a B movie.

Failed Hanafin heave has Martin red-faced

As the huddle of journalists which had swirled around her began to separate, the exhilaration at being the centre of attention again was almost too much: “Oh, I like being doughnuted — I haven’t been in a doughnut for so long!”

Hanafin’s outfit was as red as the rage her victory must have induced in Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, whose orders not to run she contemptuously ignored as he put her candidacy under investigation in revenge for going rogue.

But the Purgin’ Mary plan did not work out as well as Martin had hoped, and now here she was, his worst nightmare — reborn, re-elected, and revelling in the fact the party top brass had tried to toy with her only to once again taste her wrath.

The battle of Blackrock should have just been a storm in a south Dublin cappuccino cup, but it came to symbolise Martin’s lack of strategic vision and political grip.

After asking Hanafin to run in the local elections, party leadership quickly withdrew the offer after a Blackrock backlash from the sitting candidate, but not before Fianna Fáil HQ had handed her the official nomination papers. The former education minister lodged them — and then walked the election.

Not that Hanafin rubbed Martin’s face it with an “I told you so” diatribe — she did not need to, her withering smile said it all without words.

Still subject to a party inquiry for the way she behaved, Hanafin brushed all the unpleasantness aside with the sardonic assertion that it would have been hard for Fianna Fáil to achieve its stated goal of winning two seats in the Blackrock ward without two candidates.

Martin now faces a lose-lose situation of accepting peace on Hanafin’s terms or throwing her out of the party and onto a warpath.

Either option will raise inevitable questions about his indecisiveness, blunder in not fielding a Fianna Fáil presidential candidate in 2011, and his failure to “get” Dublin, losing the chance of a Euro seat in the city after a typically botched and chaotic search for a winning candidate.

Hanafin broke down at the election count when her victory was announced — we can only imagine the tears of frustration on Martin’s cheeks

There is no denying Hanafin has star status in a Fianna Fáil still scrambling to come to terms with its reduced appeal. Now the former minister and leadership contender is back.

Or as she might put it: “Back! Back! Back!”

It may just be at local council level for now, but as the gold dust of publicity and the glowing lights of the television cameras fall on her once more, where will it all end?

When Gloria Swanson’s character in Sunset Boulevard was told “You used to be in silent pictures, you used to be big,” her damning reply could now be uttered by Hanafin: “I am big — it’s the pictures that got small.”

Martin will no doubt be wishing she was a star of the silent screen, for Hanafin’s loud return to centre stage probably hastens the sunset on his own tenure as leader.

Back in the fold: How did former TDs contesting local elections perform?

* James Breen Independent — contesting Ennis (Clare)

Elected on count 11

* Michael Ahern Fianna Fáil — contesting Cobh (Cork County)

Eliminated on count 7

* Gerard Murphy Fine Gael — contesting Kanturk-Mallow (Cork County)

Elected on count 7

* Dan Boyle Green Party — contesting Cork City South East (Cork City)

Eliminated on count 7

* Sean Haughey Fianna Fáil — contesting Clontarf (Dublin City)

Elected on count 5

* Ciaran Cuffe Green Party — contesting North Inner City (Dublin City)

Elected on count 13

* Chris Andrews Sinn Féin (lost seat as FF candidate) — contesting Pembroke-South Dock (Dublin City)

Elected on count 1

* Paul Gogarty Independent (lost seat as a Green Party candidate) — contesting Lucan (South Dublin County)

Elected on count 11

* Charlie O’Connor Fianna Fáil — contesting Tallaght Central (South Dublin County)

Elected on count 2

* Mary Hanafin Fianna Fáil — contesting Blackrock (Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown)

Elected on count 1

* Tom McEllistrim Fianna Fáil — contesting Tralee (Kerry County)

Count ongoing

* Sean Power Fianna Fáil — contesting Kildare-Newbridge (Kildare County)

Count ongoing

* John Farrelly Fine Gael — contesting Kells (Meath County)

Count ongoing

* Margaret Conlon Fianna Fáil — contesting Carrickmacross-Castleblaney (Monaghan County)

Count ongoing

* Paudge Connolly Independent — contesting Monaghan (Monaghan County)

Count ongoing

* Eamon Scanlon Fianna Fáil — contesting Ballymote-Tubbercurry (Sligo County)

Count ongoing

* Declan Bree United Left (lost seat as a Labour Party candidate) — contesting Sligo (Sligo County)

Elected on count 1

* Tony Dempsey Fianna Fáil contesting Wexford (Wexford County)

Elected on count 2

* Joe Behan Independent — contesting Bray (Wicklow County)

Elected on count 1

* Eddie Wade Fianna Fáil was selected to contest the Cappamore-Kilmallock electoral area (Limerick County) but announced he would not be contesting the elections and would be retiring from politics

* Gerry Reynolds Fine Gael was selected to contest the Carrick-on-Shannon electoral area (Leitrim County) but announced on February 18, he would not be contesting the elections and would be retiring from politics

* Sean Connick Fianna Fáil was selected to contest the New Ross electoral area (Wexford County), but announced he was retiring from politics in mid April after being appointed CEO of the John F Kennedy Trust.

For more in depth updates and analysis on the fallout from this year's election and access to our comprehensive results database visit our special Election 2014 section.

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