CLARE’S two Fianna Fáil TDs are set for a tough general election battle as public anger grows over the multi-million euro bailout and the severe four-year national recovery plan.
Minister for Defence Tony Killeen and Deputy Timmy Dooley are certain to be ratified at the selection convention in a couple of weeks but party members at local level were remaining tight lipped on Wednesday about other possible candidates.
However, a source within the party revealed that at least one woman was nominated. A number of those contacted speculated that Fianna Fáil would only run two candidates on the ticket, unless one could be sourced in West Clare.
Among the names being mentioned as a possible West Clare candidate are Marina Keane, solicitor and daughter of Councillor Pat Keane.
“I am aware that my name has been out there. I am privileged that people would deem me a suitable potential candidate but at this point in time, running for election would not be something I could give serious consideration to,” Ms Keane stated.
Another West Clare woman with political lineage has also ruled herself out. “I work and live in Limerick and am a guidance counsellor in a disadvantaged school here, so in many ways I have a similar job to a TD in that I listen to people’s problems. It [being a candidate] is not something I have ever really thought about and it is not something I would consider in the near future,” said Niamh Daly, daughter of former TD Brendan Daly.
“A strong Fianna Fáil candidate in West Clare is critical for the election. I think a woman with Tony Killeen and Timmy Dooley would be a big advantage on the ticket. It hasn’t been discussed widely because up to now it was assumed that the Government would struggle on for the full term. Now, of course, we must start thinking about it. I think there is a strong lobby in West Clare that would vote for a good Fianna Fáil candidate,” Brendan Daly stated.
The former deputy said his decision after the 2007 election, at which he failed to win a seat, still stands and that he will not run. His son, Ronan refused to comment on his future plans or whether or not he had sought nomination.
Minister Killeen said he believed Fianna Fáil would win two seats and that he hoped to take one of them. While he said he doesn’t know who his running mates would be, he added that he works well with Deputy Timmy Dooley and hopes to see him returned.
Asked what he expects on the doorsteps, given recent economic and political developments, Minister Killeen said he is unafraid of canvassing.
“I spent two weeks canvassing in Donegal in urban and rural areas and had no difficulties whatsoever with anybody. My strong view would be that Clare people are at least as nice as Donegal people,” he said.
“The kind of people that vote for me will know what the national and international realities are. I think there will be an appreciation that we did not take the soft option and run to the country before the budget and the four-year plan,” he stated.
Deputy Dooley said he would be running in the next election subject to selection at convention.
“Up to now, for me going to the doorsteps has meant calling to see people. From now on, you will be looking for people’s support and obviously people will have different views on what should have been done to date and what can be done. It will be about national issues and who has a plan to bring the country back from the brink and some discussions about how we got there. We have to take our fair share of responsibility for that and we have to accept that but it is incumbent on all of us now to put forward a plan to get us out of this. That will put pressure on the other parties to explain to people how their policies will get us out of this,” he stated.
Taylor Quinn considering running
FORMER Fine Gael TD and Mayor of Clare, Madeleine Taylor Quinn has confirmed that she is poised to make a comeback on the political scene. Ms Taylor Quinn, who was one of four Fine Gael candidates in the 2007 General Election in Clare, did not contest the local elections in 2009 but did not give any definite statement as to her future plans.
The former Kilrush area county councillor has been approached in recent weeks with a view to running again.
Asked about the move, she said, “At the moment, I’m actively considering the situation but I have to look at every angle. There was a recent district meeting in the Kilrush Electoral Area and a few other ad hoc Fine Gael meetings.
“Their conclusion was that they would like me to stand as a candidate. So the result is they have been approaching and talking to me, anxious that I would stand,” she explained.
“They feel the last time that I secured the two Fine Gael seats with the transfer of my votes. So they feel that I’m necessary on that front and they feel that this is a time of crisis and that there’s a need for people with experience. These are some of the cases that are being made to me,” Ms Taylor Quinn added.
She believes that both outgoing Fine Gael TDs will be nominated at the selection convention on December 12 and that party headquarters will nominate a third candidate.
“In my view, deputies should be automatically re-selected and it would be right for the party that they would. I understand nationally the party’s approach will be ‘select two and add one’,” Ms Taylor Quinn concluded.
FG to field three
THE Fine Gael party is expected to field just three candidates and the difficulty is in deciding who will be the running mate for sitting TDs Pat Breen and Joe Carey. Both will be ratified at the Clare selection convention on Sunday, December 12.
Although Councillor Joe Cooney achieved the highest ever vote by a candidate in the Clare Local Elections in 2007, he is unlikely to put his name forward. However, he confirmed that he would make a final decision before the closing date for nominations this Thursday at 6pm.
Councillor Martin Conway believes he is ideally placed in North Clare to make a serious challenge for a third seat for the party and is encouraged by the positive response his stance has attracted to date.
Ennis East Councillor, Johnny Flynn has decided not to seek a place on the Fine Gael ticket at the convention for personal and other reasons.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD for Galway East, Paul Connaughton has confirmed that he will not contest the next election. The 66-year-old former junior minister for agriculture has been a TD since 1981.
He is currently the party’s deputy spokesman on foreign affairs with special responsibility for the Irish diaspora.