Sinn Féin struggling to find candidates for local elections

Lack of suitable candidates and poor infrastructure in some areas hampering party's efforts to become largest in country
Sinn Féin struggling to find candidates for local elections

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald held a Zoom meeting last Wednesday to discuss the party’s 'ambitious' plans. Picture: Brian Lawless

Sinn Féin is struggling to identify candidates for next year's local elections in a number of counties across the country, the Irish Examiner understands.

There is mounting concern among party TDs that it may not be able to capitalise on its record-high poll ratings.

A lack of suitable candidates, added to a poor party infrastructure in certain parts of the country, is hampering efforts to allow it to become the largest party in the country.

Sources have said there is “unhappiness” within the party at the progress being made on finding people who want to run as Sinn Féin councillors.

The party lost 78 council seats in the 2019 local elections, leaving just 81 councillors, in what was a major blow.

It is understood the counties that are causing concern include Clare, Wicklow, parts of Dublin, and areas in Cork and Galway.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald held a meeting last Wednesday evening to discuss the party’s “ambitious” plans.

It is understood more than 100 people, including TDs, senators, and chairs of local branches attended the Zoom gathering.

Ms McDonald encouraged local representatives to get active and engage with people on the ground.

One party source said the meeting was also used to indirectly send a message to some TDs to show leadership in their local areas and not to be “clannish” to others.

No specific areas or counties where party sources have said there may be a challenge in finding candidates were mentioned at the meeting.

However, another attendee at last Wednesday's meeting said internally, there is some anxiety and disquiet about identifying fresh new candidates.

“There has been some talk of whether the party could try and urge people who previously have been councillors to run again in those areas of concern,” a source said, adding that the party understands it has to be “ambitious but practical” in deciding how many candidates it should run in the local elections in 2024.

We are looking at the strength of the party in certain areas and whether they are well organised or not and if not, to try and change that. There also needs to be a shift of the mindset with certain TDs who may feel territorial and like to know who is in their camp.

One source said they believe the party will struggle to identify candidates due to a number of factors, including low pay for councillors and how toxic politics had become.

A spokesperson for Sinn Féin said it has not yet held any selection conventions but the party will do so in the coming months.

It comes as the latest opinion poll shows support for Sinn Féin has dropped again but it still remains the most popular party at 31%.

Indicators suggest that support for the party may have stalled in recent months. Ms McDonald’s approval ratings did not change at 40% and she remains behind Tánaiste Micheál Martin at 44%.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner in December, Ms McDonald said the party has a lot of ground to make up following the disastrous 2019 local elections.

She said the party is “doing a huge amount of outreach” meetings with people across Irish society, as well as preparing the organisation for election campaigns.

More in this section

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd