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Fianna Fáil HQ warned of serious repercussions if grassroots ignored


Fianna Fáil HQ warned of ‘serious repercussions’ if grassroots ignored

Anton McNulty

FIANNA Fáil headquarters  have been warned there could be ‘serious repercussions’ if they fail to listen to the grassroots and impose a two-candidate strategy in Mayo ahead of the next General Election.
The grassroots of the Fianna Fáil party ignored orders at a party meeting on Friday night when they voted to run three candidates despite the party preferring a two candidate approach.
Over 200 delegates gathered in the Sportlann in Castlebar when delegates from east Mayo succeeded in winning a vote to run three candidates by 129 votes to 104.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Westport based councillor Brendan Mulroy said the National Executive of Fianna Fáil had to listen to the democratic will of the local delegates and if they intervened to impose a two-candidate approach, there could be serious repercussions.
Current Mayo Fianna Fáil TD, Dara Calleary told The Mayo News that he welcomed the debate into the strategy ahead of the party and stressed the grassroots must be listened to.
“We had very good discussions around the county over the past six weeks and the local delegates came up with a decision. This was communicated to the party headquarters this morning [Monday] and they have the power to decide. I am keeping out of the debate but they [national executive] should bring all the factors and views into account. The delegates are the foot soldiers on the ground and their views must be taken into account,” he said.
Deputy Calleary said he would not speculate on what strategy the National Executive will take and how delegates would react if they assist on a two-candidate approach. He added that the interest in running for the party showed how far they have progressed since the last election.
“I think it is brilliant and it shows the interest there is in the party compared to 2011 when we struggled to get someone to go forward in the election. It shows that members are interested and it shows how far the party has progressed,” he said.

Preferred option
The party HQ’s preferred option would be to run both Dara Calleary and Castlebar councillor Lisa Chambers in the next General Election but the party’s base in east Mayo have called for a third candidate from that part of the constituency. Dublin based solicitor, Leonard Ryan originally from Knock is believed to be their preferred candidate to contest the election.
A party source who attended the meeting on Friday described Mr Ryan as ‘meticulous’ in his preparation and he managed to arrange for his supporters to be at the meeting and out vote those who preferred a two candidate strategy.
An unsigned letter was sent to the majority of delegates which called on the ‘grassroots’ to ‘take power back’ and was said to be pivotal in swaying the vote in favour of a three candidate strategy.
The party are due to hold its selection convention in the Welcome Inn Hotel in Castlebar on Sunday, March 22 when the party headquarters will inform delegates of which strategy the party should go.
Fianna Fáil sources in the county say if they insist on a two-candidate strategy it may annoy the delegates and the selection vote could be be interesting.
“The party headquarters want Calleary and Chambers to be the two candidates but if they insist on a two candidate approach there would be a backlash in the vote. If the three candidates go forward at convention and they may vote for Leonard Ryan and oust either Dara or Lisa as a result. It could well happen,” said the source.