WHILE Michael McNamara claimed last week that the Labour Party leadership went out of its way to stop him running for election to the Seanad, the party has denied anything underhand has happened.
Also, Seamus Ryan, who served as director of elections for Labour in Clare, has defended the party, saying it is no longer in a strong enough position to be putting forward multiple candidates.
In a post on social media last week, Mr McNamara wrote, “If there was a democratic contest for the party nomination on the Agricultural Panel, I think I’d have won. So did the party leadership, so there was no contest.”
Also, in an interview last week, Mr McNamara, referring to senior figures in the party, said, “It’s quite clear that not alone did I not have their backing but they went out of their way to prevent me from running”.
He also claimed that he was being paid back for not being what he called “a nodding dog” during his five years in the Dáil.
In a statement given to The Clare Champion in response to Mr McNamara’s comments, Labour claimed there were other routes the former Clare TD could have taken.
“At a meeting of the Labour Party Executive Board on March 5, it was decided that the party would nominate one candidate on both the Industrial and Commercial panel and the Administrative panel for the Seanad election. In addition, it was agreed that the party would endorse one candidate in both the Agriculture Panel and the Labour Panel.
“It was open to any party member to put themselves forward for nomination in either the Industrial and Commercial panel or the Administrative panel. In addition, it was open to anybody to seek a nomination from an outside nominating body for either the Agriculture Panel, or the Labour Panel and to seek the endorsement of the party.”
Labour’s Denis Landy was nominated for the Agriculture Panel by the Greyhound Breeders’ Association of Ireland and is the only party candidate on that list now.
While Mr Ryan served as director of elections for Mr McNamara’s ill-fated bid for re-election to the Dáíl, this week he said that Labour has had to focus its efforts for the Seanad elections on a small number of candidates.
Asked about Mr McNamara’s claims that the party leadership had sought to prevent a contest, he said it was hard to see a way that Mr Landy would not have been endorsed.
“That’s Michael’s perspective on it. People are disappointed at the way it panned out. Senator Denis Landy is the Labour Party’s candidate on the Agriculture Panel. He is a senator, a former chairman of the Irish Councillors’ Association, a county councillor for 25 years and he achieved an outside nomination on the Agriculture Panel. It’s difficult to see a way around that.”
As the electorate for the Seanad is largely restricted to elected councillors and members of the Oireachtas, Mr Ryan said Labour is very restricted. “The Labour Party has been severely damaged by the last election. There was the loss of 28 sitting TDs and 100 council seats were lost two years before that. It seriously reduces the ability of the Labour Party to run multiple candidates on panels.”
He acknowledged that there is disappointment within the Labour Party in Clare that Mr McNamara is not going forward but said that “multiple people” have lost out following the general election. He said Senator Lorraine Higgins was another high-profile figure who had been unsuccessful in securing a party nomination.