Will they or won’t they?
That’s the big question in political circles this week as speculation is mounting that a decision to rekindle Fianna Fáil in Donegal rests with two of its most experienced stalwarts, former Tanaiste and experienced government Minister, Mary Coughlan and equally experienced and current Irish North-West MEP, Pat the Cope Gallagher.
Since their hammering in the general election Fianna Fáil members have been on the political hamster wheel, going around in circles and getting nowhere.
Yesterday’s Fianna Fáil National Councillors’ Convention in Mullingar was expected to ignite some passion into the grassroots members but speculation is that it will take the intervention of either the Cope or Coughlan to get things moving again.
The theme of the gathering yesterday was ‘Party Renewal - Building a Campaigning Organisation towards 2014’. Members felt the performance of Sean Gallagher in the recent Presidential election showed there was still an FF vote to be won.
Infomred sources in Donegal South-West suggest Coughlan has been giving serious consideration to relaunching her political career. They point to the fact she attended a recent FF education conference and the President’s dinner. If, as expected, Donegal becomes a five-seater constituency for the next election if electoral boundary revisions go through, many party insiders feel she is well placed to try to recapture a Dail seat for their area.
However given the fact Ballyshannon-Bundoran could well move into the Sligo-Leitrim constituency, she may have an uphill battle on her hands.
FF sources also point to the fact MEP Gallagher is as active as ever in both constituencies and would be ideally placed and always wanted to play “on the big pitch” - back in the Dáil.
The last time Donegal had an all county constituency of five was in 1977 when the TDs were Hugh Conaghan and Joe Brennan (Fianna Fail), Paddy Harte and Jim White (Fine Gael) and Neil Blaney (Independent Fianna Fail).
It is understood the message yesterday in Mullingair was Donegal had to go all out for two seats again while keeping a close eye on the largest centre of population in the county, Letterkenny.
It is expected that meetings to review new stretagies at council and Dáil levels will be held in the new year.