Former Cork TD to lead Sinn Féin candidate selections

Former Cork TD to lead Sinn Féin candidate selections

Former Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien to assist party in selection of candidates: Laura Hutton

Former Sinn Féin TD for Cork North-Central Jonathan O'Brien is playing a role in selecting candidates as his party aims to win the next election.

Sinn Féin received the highest share of first preferences in the 2020 election, but only took 37 seats after running just 42 candidates. 

It is understood that Mr O'Brien is now working to identify up to 80 candidates to run for the party, with the focus on choosing running mates for the party's most popular sitting TDs.

Party sources said that selection conventions for candidates will be taking place in the weeks before and after Christmas, with senior members keen to have as many tickets filled as possible in case of a snap election. 

One source said that last year's election saw something of "a scramble" to fill ballots. Despite that, the party had its best-ever electoral performance and recent polling shows that it is on course to lead the next government.

Mr O'Brien announced in January 2020 that he would not contest the following month's election, with the party's candidate Thomas Gould holding the seat. 

He had topped the poll in the 2011 election and held on to that seat in 2016 before announcing his decision to step away from the Dáil.

In March, he was drafted in to "shake up" constituency organisations along with former Kerry TD Martin Ferris, leading to an internal dispute in Limerick County. The Irish Examiner revealed that members there had been "blindsided" after the constituency was designated "female-only" for the next election.

At the party's Ard Fheis in Dublin last week, leader Mary Lou McDonald said that the next election would see more candidates run by her party.

“Sinn Féin will deliver that government for the people. We want to lead that government. I want to lead as Taoiseach if you give us that chance,” she said.

“So, to those who told me, again and again, to make sure we run enough candidates at the next Dáil election. I hear you loud and clear."

A Sinn Féin spokesperson said:

“Jonathan is working full time for the party in an organisational capacity and part of his brief is future local, European and general election preparation across all constituencies alongside others.”

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