Sinn Féin candidate selection throws up election conundrums for other parties in Kerry

Meanwhile the Healy-Raes now see a gap and may well go for the chance of a third seat, it is strongly rumoured.

Sinn Féin candidate selection throws up election conundrums for other parties in Kerry

THE withdrawal of Toireasa Ferris and the selection of Tralee town native, solicitor Pa Daly, as the Sinn Féin candidate to contest the next general election has thrown up conundrums for the other main parties in Kerry.

Speculation is rife about additions and changes in strategy among the main organisations in the five-seater constituency.

Ms Ferris was felt to be almost certain to retain her father Martin's seat, and her withdrawal is a blow for the party. Mr Daly was selected unopposed at the convention in Tralee.

The selection of Daly has led to worries for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. He is from an extended Tralee family with links to both Fianna Fáil and the Green party, as well as the SDLP in the North.

His appeal will be broader than the Sinn Féin base, the main parties fear. A particular worry for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is that Cllr Daly will be the only candidate going forward from Tralee.

"Pa Daly will have it all to himself in Tralee unless we put someone forward," said one Fianna Fáil party source.

Fianna Fáil's sitting TD John Brassil is based in the village of Ballyheigue in the nearby Listowel electoral area.

Fianna Fáil’s second candidate, Waterville’s Cllr Norma Moriarty, is based at the extreme southern and least populated end of Kerry.

There is open speculation already that Fianna Fáil is being forced to rethink its strategy and a Tralee town candidate, possibly councillor Norma Foley will be added.

Cllr Foley has run for the party previously and failed to get the Dáil seat - but this year she topped the poll in the Tralee local elections after a hugely successful year as mayor of Kerry.

Killarney too is without a town candidate or representative.

Director of elections for Fianna Fáil, the current mayor of Kerry Killarney Councillor Cllr Niall Kelleher said he believes a three-candidate strategy is best for the party in Kerry and is on record as saying a third candidate needs to be added.

However, he believes that “geographically” the strategy should be to add himself, because he is a Killarney town based candidate and Ms Foley and Mr Brassil are both based in the north of the county near each other.

Cllr Michael Cahill from Glenbeigh near Killorglin was also seeking to have his name added, Cllr Kelleher pointed out. “We have a situation in Kerry where candidates are fighting to get on the ticket. This is unlike Fine Gael,” he said, referring to the fact the party has only managed so far to select a single candidate, its sitting TD, junior minister Brendan Griffin.

“As director of elections in Kerry I will be fighting for two seats, no matter what the geography is, “ Cllr Kelleher added.

Meanwhile the Healy-Raes now see a gap and may well go for the chance of a third seat, it is strongly rumoured.

The notion that they might run a third candidate – possibly Johnny Healy-Rae - alongside their sitting TDs Michael and Danny, is not being dismissed out of hand by the Healy-Rae camp.

Fine Gael has selected sitting TD and Minister of State Brendan Griffin who is based in mid-Kerry, but the addition of Listowel councillor, poll topper and solicitor Aoife Thornton - who withdrew her name from convention a year ago - is still being mooted.

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