The first shots have been fired in the political battle for the Dáil seat of MEP-elect Billy Kelleher.
Former Fianna Fáil TD Noel O’Flynn said he expects his son, local election poll-topper Cllr Ken O’Flynn, to be selected to contest for the vacant seat in Cork North Central once Kelleher’s election to the European Parliament is formally declared following the marathon recount in Ireland South.
And he said he believes the public has forgiven Fianna Fáil for its handling of the economy ahead of the economic crash.
“I think we are climbing out of that and that the public are once more trusting the party and are prepared, in the near future, to put them back into Government,” he said.
“They have punished Fianna Fáil for their wrong-doings, they’ve (the party) admitted they’ve done wrong and weren’t managing the country from 2008 on, but I think people are now saying: ‘Let’s look at them now, let’s look at their policies now, and who are the parties we can trust’.
“And I think the two mainstream parties are the parties they can trust.”
Mr O’Fynn was speaking just after Ken O’Flynn topped the poll in the Cork City North East local electoral area (LEA) at the weekend.
His party colleague, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, topped the poll in the neighbouring LEA.
Former Cork North Central TD Noel O’Flynn, who resigned his Dáil seat in 2011, said he believes his son is in “pole position” to reclaim that Dáil seat on the back on his local election success.
Noel O’Flynn was first elected to the Dáil in 1997 and was widely regarded as one of Fianna Fáil’s most outspoken TDs.
He was a staunch critic of Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen and only stood down as a TD after being asked by party leader Micheál Martin not to run in the 2011 general election as part of a strategy designed to save a FF seat in what was Jack Lynch’s old northside constituency.
The seat was subsequently held by Billy Kelleher.
Mr O’Flynn later accused Mr Martin of reneging on a deal to support Ken O’Flynn in his 2011 Seanad election bid.
Mr O’Fynn left the party in 2015 in disgust.
But he told the Irish Examiner that the O’Flynn political machine hopes to build on Ken’s local election success and recover the Dáil seat he resigned from in 2011.
“The party leader would be aware of our intentions and I would hope that when the processes and conventions are held, that Ken would be selected as a candidate because I think he is in pole position to win a seat in the general election,” he said.
Cllr O’Flynn said it was humbling to get the highest vote on the city’s northside and that he was proud to help the party go into the local elections as the biggest party in local government, and to come out even bigger.
“Fianna Fáil is on its way back,” he said.
“We have a leader that people trust, that people like.
“People like our politicians. We’re good at selecting people and we’ve selected the right people in the right areas.
“We always select community candidates, people that are based in the community, that love their community and that’s why we did so well.”
And he said his election team is “fired up and ready to go” in the event of a by-election or a general election being called.