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Bertie and Bev back in touch

Bertie and Bev back in touch

Michael Commins
BEVERLEY Flynn is back in the good books with An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. In a sensational twist to the ongoing saga between Beverley and Fianna Fáil, The Mayo News can exclusively reveal this week that Bertie not only sent a Christmas card to Windsor, Castlebar but also made a personal phone call to the Mayo TD during the season of goodwill.
With shades of Roly Daniels’ classic country hit from former years, ‘Hello Darling’, Bertie has broken the ice and Beverley is glad to see a potential end to the ‘Cold War’.
Speaking to Beverley at the weekend, she confirmed that she and Bertie were back on good terms. “Yes, he was in touch with me before Christmas. He sent me a Christmas card and phoned me. We had a good and light-hearted Christmas chat. The first Christmas after I was excluded from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, I had no Christmas card or phone call at all from him. The year after I received a Christmas card but no phone call. But this time I received both the card and the phone call from Bertie. And I must say I was delighted he rang. People know my background in politics and I’ve never tried to be anything but what I am,” she said on Friday.
News of Bertie’s perceived mending of fences with Beverley looks set to take centre-stage among the political chattering classes in Mayo and much further afield over the coming days and weeks.
But while glad of Bertie’s goodwill call, Beverley is quick to dismiss growing speculation in certain quarters that she will be asked to re-join Fianna Fáil prior to the election. Speaking to Pat Stanton on Saturday Forum on Castlebar Community Radio some days earlier, she said: “I will be fighting this election as an Independent, on my own platform and I have no doubt but that my independent status will be to my advantage this time.
“I have been a member of Fianna Fáil all my life, and I was elected as a Fianna Fáil TD by the people of Mayo in 2002. While I gave a commitment to Fianna Fáil last October to support the Ahern Government in the Dáil for the lifetime of the current administration, as of now, that is as far as it goes. When this election is called, I will be putting my name forward as an Independent candidate to represent the people of Mayo.
“That I am no longer a member of the party is something not of my doing,” she said.
Beverley said on Friday that she will be hoping for a ‘scatter of votes’ in boxes all over the constituency and getting some support that may not have come her way in the past. “I feel I will get some support from certain quarters that may not have voted for me before. As an Independent, you do tend to pick up a certain vote that the party system can alienate at times. Preference votes will be absolutely crucial this time around. The number 2, 3, 4 and 5s will all come into play in deciding the last seats.
“At the same time, I’m also a great believer in looking after one’s home base. The bottom line is that the town of Castlebar is now open to a lot of candidates and I expect that John Carty and Frank Chambers, who both have offices in the town, will canvass the town and hinterland. That doesn’t hold any fears for me. All of the county is open for me. Castlebar people will do what they always have done.”
Beverley polled 3,500 of her first preference round figure of 6,500 in the Castlebar Electoral Area five years ago. Her ability to hold on to that vote will be central to her overall performance when election day rolls around. With Fianna Fáil anxious to nail down every potential supporting vote when it comes to making up the numbers after the count is complete, there is every reason to presume that some pre-election bargaining will take place between the Castlebar deputy and Fianna Fáil strategists. If she is successful, and in a strong bargaining position, the chances of at least a junior ministry may well be a distinct possibility. It all depends on how the cards fall.