Fianna fÁil councillor Kate Feeney has declared her intention to seek the party’s nomination to run for the Dáil in Dún Laoghaire, resuming her rivalry with former minister Mary Hanafin.
In a resumption of what has become known as the ‘Battle of Blackrock’, the first-time councillor said today that she would be contesting the Fianna Fáil selection convention which is due to take place before the end of next month.
Feeney and Hanafin fought a high-profile battle for council seats in last year’s local elections. After Fianna Fáil botched the nominating process, Hanafin ended up running as an ‘unofficial’ party candidate alongside Feeney.
Both were elected to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for the Blackrock ward and will now both be seeking the nomination to run in the general election in the south Dublin constituency.
Dún Laoghaire-based councillor Cormac Devlin, who has the backing of Mary O’Rourke, is also set to contest.
In a statement today, Feeney said she had made her decision after encouragement from party members.
“The General Election in 2016 will not be an easy one for Fianna Fáil, but with the right candidate I believe Fianna Fáil can regain a seat in Dún Laoghaire. I feel I have the capability to be that candidate because of the energy and vibrancy I will bring to the campaign.”
She later told TheJournal.ie that she believed it was time the party gave young candidates a chance.
“A lot of people are saying there hasn’t really been any change. There has been change in the party and we need to start showing that. We have a strong base of young candidates coming forward. I think it’s time they are given a chance.”
Earlier this week, Hanafin announced that she would not be contesting for the vice presidency of Fianna Fáil at the party’s Ard Fheis later this month, saying she wanted to concentrate on winning the nomination in Dún Laoghaire.
Both the Hanafin and Feeney camps believe that a one candidate strategy represents the best chance for Fianna Fáil to win back a Dáil seat in the constituency.
Dún Laoghaire is currently set to be a three-seater at the next election on the assumption that current Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett is automatically re-elected if he does not decide to retire or step down and run for re-election, as has been mooted.
Barrett’s fellow Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell-O’Connor is considered a certainty to be re-elected. The eventual Fianna Fáil candidate is set to battle it out with ex-Labour leader Eamon Gilmore and People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd-Barrett for the other two seats.
Feeney said that while there has been “a lot of talk about what Fianna Fáil headquarters will do” the choice of candidate in Dún Laoghaire will be up to party members in the constituency.