Smith and Conlon to fight to retain Cavan / Monaghan foothold

28 January 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Fianna Fáil has opted to play it safe in the Cavan/Monaghan constituency for the upcoming general election by running two only two candidates, the outgoing Minister for Agriculture (and now Justice as well) Brendan Smith in Cavan and outgoing TD Margaret Conlon in Monaghan.
The decision was made at a selection conference attended by up on 400 delegates in the White Horse Hotel, Cootehill last Thursday night, where five hopefuls for the nomination agreed to withdraw their names in order to facilitate the two-seat target.
“Now is not the time” appeared to be the unspoken agreement as Monaghan public representatives Seamus Coyle, Robbie Gallagher and Michael Smyth joined their Cavan counterparts Niamh Smyth and Shane P O’Reilly in holding their fire for the time being at least — after Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan told the 400-strong conference at the outset that a two-candidate ticket was the edict from the party’s Constituencies Committee.
But while all sang graciously from the same hymn sheet in accepting this setback to their political ambitions, slight notes of discord were voiced by Cllrs Gallagher and Coyle, who asked why local cumanns had been advised to select candidates in the first place if this was going to be the outcome.
Keenly aware that the main outgoing government party is on the receiving end of a national backlash, the local organisation has rowed along with the hierarchy in deciding to avoid splitting the vote in its remaining support base in each county, in the hope of holding on to two seats.
While all speakers were passionate in defending the party’s record against how it was being portrayed in what Minister Smith described as a “hostile” national media, there is no escaping the fact that the two-candidate approach amounts the surrender of one of Fianna Fáil’s three seats in this constituency even before the starting whistle.
The fact that veteran south-Monaghan Dáil representative Dr Rory O’Hanlon had already confirmed that he would not be standing again certainly facilitates lowering the target and aiming for a less-ambitious two-seat objective (see tributes made by the speakers to Dr O’Hanlon on page 3). And while it could be argued that one of the seats would have fallen by the wayside in 2007 but for the fact that Dr O’Hanlon was automatically returned as Ceann Comhairle, the outcome of Thursday’s convention certainly confirms that three Fianna Fáil TDs in Cavan/Monaghan is, for the foreseeable future a thing of the past.
The prevailing atmosphere at Thursday’s convention was one of anxiety tempered by a certain grim determination as party workers brace themselves to face an electorate feeling the pain of the massive downturn as jobs are lost, homes are lost, and taxes are increasing and incomes falling — all against a backdrop where bankers and developers appear to be getting off the hook.
Full report in The Northern Standard

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