FF to opt for two candidate strategy

Fianna Fail has confirmed it will pursue a two candidate strategy in the Longford-Westmeath constituency at the next general election.
Fianna Fáil is to pursue a two candidate strategy in Longford-Westmeath ahead of the next general election, it has been confirmed.

Fianna Fáil is to pursue a two candidate strategy in Longford-Westmeath ahead of the next general election, it has been confirmed.

The party finally confirmed this week that it intends on running one candidate in Longford and one candidate in Westmeath.

However, no definitive decision has been made in relation to fulfilling new gender quota rules which require 30 per cent of party candidates to be female. Therefore it is not known if Fianna Fail chiefs will insist that one of the candidates is female.

A spokeswoman said party headquarters had taken the decision in relation to the constituency breakdown as nomination letters were sent out to party members last week.

That deadline closes next Wednesday ahead of the selection convention, which according to party sources, looks set to be held in mid-September.

So far, three candidates, Cllr Seamus Butler, Pat O’Rourke, and most recently Connie Gerety, have declared their intention to run.

Ms Gerety refused to comment on speculation party bosses were considering issuing a diktat to ensure one of the two candidates on the Longford-Westmeath ticket is female.

Should party strategists enforce the ruling, sitting TD Robert Troy would be many people’s favourite to fill the other vacancy, meaning both Cllr Butler and Mr O’Rourke would miss out.

Neither Cllr Butler or Mr O’Rourke said they were not considering such a scenario.

Mr O’Rourke said he expects Longford members to vote for a Longford candidate come convention time with Westmeath doing likewise for its preferred nominee.

His convention rival, Cllr Butler, is also focused on the forthcoming convention. He said with 11 conventions for the party still to be held nationwide, his own hopes were still “all to play for.”