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Turf war in Fianna Fáil

Turf war in Fianna Fáil

Michael Commins
THE heat is on! The gloves appear to be off in Fianna Fáil circles in Mayo as the ‘Midfield incident’ adds some early life to the General Election campaign. Five years ago, the Toomore biscuit-box was a real cracker in highlighting the divisions within Fianna Fáil in the run-up to the election. This time, the action has moved a little further east.
Temperatures have been rising in recent weeks with the issuing of press releases by John Carty TD and Cllr Frank Chambers to the local newspapers and radio stations. And when Frank Chambers went on air to announce that tenders for the construction of a new waste water treatment plant in Kiltimagh, costing over €3.2m, would be sought in the coming weeks, some local supporters of John Carty in Kiltimagh saw red.
After all, they said, the Mayo TD had only days before accompanied a local Fianna Fáil Cumann delegation from Kiltimagh to meet Environment Minister, Dick Roche. The minister assured the delegation that the Department’s examination of the contract documents for this part of the project will be finalised as quickly as possible on receipt of additional information awaited from Mayo County Council.
After Cllr Chambers went on air to make the announcement about the waste treatment plant, ‘you know what’ hit the fan in more ways than one. And when Cllr Chambers arrived at a ‘do’ in Julian’s of Midfield one night recently for a local man who was retiring from the County Council outdoor staff, a leading member of Kiltimagh FF Cumann took him to task.
A source told The Mayo News: “There were some frank exchanges. It was the first time you could sense that the campaign was well and truly up and running.”
Chambers’ supporters will point to the fact that Carty recently announced details of the major extension to the Westport and Louisburgh water schemes which they saw as in the heart of Chambers’ territory for the upcoming election.
Apart from the Kiltimagh announcement, Chambers also responded with a press release in relation to €6 million for Claremorris swimming pool and leisure centre, a venture located about 200 yards from Carty’s main Constituency Office.
A Fianna Fáil supporter in east Mayo declared at the weekend that ‘the turf war is now on’ as Carty, Chambers and Calleary square up for the contest ahead. “It’s every man for himself from now on. You’ll see the same happening in Fine Gael. The candidates will be in and out of each other’s territories.”