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Tony Killeen, former Fianna Fáil TD and defence minister. Photograph by John Kelly.

‘Clare FF got it wrong’ – Killeen

Clare Fianna Fáil got their General Election strategy wrong, according to former Defence Minister and Fianna Fáil Deputy, Tony Killeen.

His views are at odds with those of local Fianna Fáil director of elections, Gerry Reidy, who believes the entry of Dr Michael Harty into the Dáil race cost the party two seats.

Speaking during a General Election debate, organised by The Clare Champion in Cáirde, Ennis, on Monday night, Mr Killeen said, “A lot of Fianna Fáil people are very exercised by the fact we got almost 3,000 more first preferences than Fine Gael and, even allowing for a slightly better transfer to Fine Gael from Labour, we only won one seat.

“One person described it as a ‘monumental failure’. I don’t agree with him. The first step for Fianna Fáil in Clare is to admit we got it wrong.

“I said previously that if we didn’t divide the vote more evenly, we would be in trouble and, if we did, we would win two seats.

“Fine Gael had the advantage of having a system, strong enough personalities and an organisation that was able to do that.

“Fianna Fáil was not able to do that and we will have to look at the reasons and address it for future elections. Fianna Fáil went artificially low, while Fine Gael and Labour went artificially high in 2011. There was always going to be rebalancing and maybe more,” he said.

Speaking at the election count in The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon, on Sunday, Mr Reidy insisted that Fianna Fáil were on course to win two Dáil seats for the first time since 2007, until Dr Harty’s intervention.

Councillor Colleran Molloy was eliminated in the sixth count and 1,378 of her transfers ensured Deputy Dooley was elected in the seventh count, exceeding the quota with 749 votes to spare.

Michael ‘Malty’ McDonagh was in contention with Deputy Joe Carey to win the last seat until the 12th count, when the elimination of Deputy Michael McNamara effectively elected both Deputy Carey and Breen, as they were too far ahead of Mr McDonagh, who finished with 7,762 votes.

Asked if Fianna Fáil adopted the right election strategy with three instead of two candidates, Mr Reidy said the strategy had worked very well on this occasion and would have delivered two seats, if the Kilmihil GP hadn’t entered the race.

By Dan Danaher

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