'Disappointment' at single-candidate strategy
by Sue Doherty
The Fine Gael National Executive's directive to run a single candidate in the forthcoming general election was met with widespread disappointment Sunday night in Glenties. Cllr. Eugene Dolan was blunt. "I'm not happy. I don't think HQ should decide for us, we should decide for ourselves." His colleague on Ballyshannon Town Council Cllr. John Meehan agreed. "We should be pushing for a second seat in Donegal South West. We have to learn lessons, if not, we'll always play second fiddle." Ballyshannon Mayor Brendan Travers was more circumspect. " It would be risky to run two candidates. It's possibly best to run one candidate now but we have to start looking to the future." Bundoran Cllr. Denise Connolly told the Democrat/People's Press. "I think we should be brave and we should be running two candidates and that's very evident when you talk to people in the constituency. We know Fianna Fail are going into the election in a weak position. Running one candidate is playing it safe when it's not necessary." Cllr. Eamonn Barrett added: "I personally would have liked to have seen the party run two candidates. I would like to see more ambition about the whole thing. I know they based the decision on the by-election results, but I do believe the by-election is not the same thing as a general election."
Most of those interviewed also said they understood the reasons for the decision. Christopher Doherty, a party member from Stranorlar said: "Fianna Fil can run two candidates and we only run one? It looks bad but, at the same time, I understand the strategy. This is such a traditionally strong Fianna Fil area that any other party is always up against it."
Dr Eilis O'Boyle was pragmatic. "I favour the one-candidate strategy but the national executive must retain the right to add another candidate.
"Dinny McGinley is the only candidate who can deliver a seat. It would be upsetting if Fine Gael were in government and there was no Fine Gael TD in Donegal South West. Barry O'Neill is an excellent candidate but he's not well-known in the Finn Valley and that's always crucial in the election of a TD, and that was very much reflected in the by-election.
Cllr. John Boyle agreed. "The single candidate strategy is the way to go, based on the by-election results. If the vote were split we could lose the seat."
And the last word goes to John Perry, TD. "I'm sure the National Executive gave careful consideration to their decision and I wouldn't like to second-guess them. I think it was the sensible decision. With Dinny McGinley having kept the seat since 1980, he was always going to keep the seat. And with Sinn Fin possibly getting a seat and Fianna Fil getting a seat, I don't see Fine Gael getting two seats in this constituency."