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Fianna Fáil out of the blocks and on election footing?


SIGNING ON THE DOTTED LINE  Lisa Chambers, TD, and Dara Calleary, TD, signing their nomination papers at the Fianna Fáil Convention in The Ivy Tower Hotel, Castlebar with Christabelle Feeney, Area West Political Organiser, National Equality Officer and International Officer at Fianna Fáil and Gerry McGuinness, Chairman, Mayo Fianna Fáil CDC.  Pic: Keith Heneghan

Áine Ryan

FIRST out of the blocks, you would be forgiven for thinking that Fianna Fáil in Mayo is on a General Election footing. But while two candidates were chosen at Sunday’s convention in the Ivy Tower Hotel, Castlebar, Deputy Dara Calleary remains circumspect about an early outing to the country. However, his colleague, Deputy Lisa Chambers was not mincing words when she spoke to The Mayo News last night.
“I don’t know when the election will be but we are absolutely ready whenever that will happen. We met on Sunday night because we are preparing to contest the next election, whenever it comes and with a view to getting Fianna Fáil back into government,” she said.     
She warned that the Confidence and Supply Agreement her party has made in its support of the Government is ‘a two-way arrangement and a conditional one’.   
“In some ways it is hard to believe that [aged 31] I will be into my third General Election. I remember that at our last convention in 2015, the picture [for Fianna Fáil] was very different. We had just one TD and now we have two TDs, one Senator [Keith Swanick] and Cllr Martin McLoughlin has joined the Fianna Fáil group on Mayo County Council,” Ms Chambers said.
She said that the party members must be thanked for all their support and hard work.
“They have been marvellous. Plenty had us written of,” she added.
Like his party colleague, Mr Calleary told The Mayo News he was ‘honoured to have been reselected as a Fianna Fáil candidate for Co Mayo’ and is ‘thankful to the members for their endorsement’.
“This is a minority Government, so you never know when a General Election will happen. We are committed to three Budgets under the Confidence and Supply Agreement and we have delivered two of them. If the Government respects our input, we will work towards the third in 2018,” he said.  

Planning framework ‘a disaster’
REGARDING issues that continue to affect the people of Co Mayo, he said: “Housing is a problem in the county, as is our health services which are facing a serious challenge especially those dealing with children ... Overall our economy is lagging behind.    
“The current draft of the National Planning Framework (NPF) represents a disaster for Mayo. If it proceeds the economic and social development of the county will be seriously affected; planning for homes and enterprise will be severely restricted in rural areas.
The current draft of the plan represents Fine Gael’s vision of Mayo up until 2040 – I will oppose it at every level,” Mr Calleary said.
Chambers echoed this view about the NPF, citing the fact that ‘the cross-city Luas had cost €368 million while we we still waiting on €32m to open up the rail freight link between Claremorris and Galway’.
“There is huge pressure on rural Ireland and it is past time we got our ‘fair share’ for broadband and road connectivity
When asked by The Mayo News, what the absence of Enda Kenny on the ticket means for him, Dara Calleary said: “It will be an historic election that it is the first time in over 43 years that Enda’s name will not be on the ballot paper. It is a matter for Fine Gael to resolve that.”
Responding to the same question, Lisa Chambers said: “I wish Enda well, he gave really long service. The political landscape will be different after his departure. How it will impact on the next General Election here in Mayo really is a matter for Fine Gael. We have our candidates in place.”