Party Morale Low Also in Westmeath and Roscommon
It was one of the biggest crowds that Fianna Fail could hope to get at a gathering of their members. More than 350 people turned out on an Autumn night to pick a candidate for the next General Election for Longford FF, but they needn’t have bothered – because headquarters had already picked Connie Gerety-Quinn to run alongside sitting TD, Robert Troy, writes David Flynn.
Connie Gerety-Quinn beat two other candidates, Pat O’Rourke and Cllr. Seamus Butler, leading to blue murder due to a dictat coming down from Dublin headquarters of FF, via Deputy Sean Fleming, who chaired the meeting.
The dictat was that a woman must be chosen for the Longford/Westmeath constituency. Westmeath had a convention in September, and Mullingar’s Deputy Robert Troy was chosen for FF. However Athlone, South Westmeath was left without a choice of a candidate, due to Troy being the representative for Co. Westmeath. There was bitterness at that convention, but nothing like what ensued at the Longford one.
There was no vote allowed, as headquarters had chosen Ms. Gerety-Quinn before the meeting at the Longford Arms Hotel took place. There was much criticism at the meeting, due to the new FF candidate telling newscaster, Ann Norris on Shannonside Radio back in July, that she wouldn’t be part of a gender dictat.
The convention heard criticism of headquarters, Party President Michael Martin, and especially of the gender quota that requires each party to ensure that 30% of their candidates are female. Before the Longford convention, FF had only reached around 29% and now they are over the quota, but only just – at 30.2% according to Dr. Adrian Kavanagh, who runs the brilliant Irish political blog www.adriankavanaghelections.org
The meeting broke up with huge bitterness and recriminations, and it is not clear at this stage if any of the other candidates will run as an Independent, or even if they will support and canvass with Ms. Gerety-Quinn. However one thing is clear, Connie Gerety- Quinn is a FF Dail candidate for Longford/Westmeath along with Deputy Robert Troy.
There was already bitterness in the Athlone camp of FF with them not having a candidate of their own. Now with the terrible bitterness in Longford, and troubles going on with FF Roscommon-East Galway, the soldiers of destiny are in shambles mode in the midlands with being around 20% in the polls, and the election being less than 16 weeks away.