Deputy Brendan Smith at the 77th Fianna Fail Ard Fheis at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin last month. This was before Cllr Niamh Smyth and Mike Durkan were added to the party ticket by HQ. Photo: Conor McCabe

No vote management strategy for FF

As election day looms ever nearer, Fianna Fáil candidates in Cavan-Monaghan are being told to simply put their best foot forward in order to maximise the local vote, as the party has adopted a free-for-all approach to vote management across the two counties.
Unlike the other main political parties, who have drawn clear lines in carving up the realigned constituency for their candidates in terms of canvassing and posters, outgoing TD Brendan Smith, Cllr Niamh Smyth and Clones father-of-two Mike Durkan, have been set no limits in which to operate.
“It’s not something that is happening among Fianna Fáil candidates in any of the constituencies around the country as far as I’m aware. It’s open territory and it’s up to our candidates to go out there and maximise the vote for themselves and ensure they are elected, while also supporting the canvas of other candidates within the party,” Fianna Fáil’s election agent for the upcoming General Election, Cllr John Paul Feeley told The Anglo-Celt this week.
The risky strategy has left some local voters scratching their heads as to who to vote for with candidates placed on posters listed in alphabetical order, with preference in order of choice.
The strategy runs the risk of splitting the party’s vote similar to what happened in Dunlaoghaire last time out during which Mary Hanafin and Barry Andrews both lost their seats despite both polling a large number of first preferences.
Cllr Feeley believes the party may need to “reflect” on its approach to this election once finished.
“I think the party will have to reflect on the manner in which candidates are selected around the country. There are issues in many constituencies in how that has been done. The delegates in Cavan selected a candidate, ratified by the Árd Comhairle, and the National Constituencies Committee reviewed that and added two more in Niamh [Smyth] and Michael [Durkin].”
Cllr Feeley, who was critical at the manner in which potential candidates, of which he was one, were picked in Sligo-Leitrim-West Cavan-South Donegal added: “The party strategists have looked at it. They have more time to view these things, examine the data and crunch the numbers. They carried out opinion poles and have come up with this as a determination. We have to go by that.”