Politics

FF turmoil in south Donegal as 'steal the seat' claims fly

Former Bundoran mayor hits out at candidate

By Staff Reporter

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By Staff Reporter

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editoial@donegaldemocrat.com

FF turmoil  in south Donegal as 'steal the seat' claims fly

As nominations to replace the late councillor Sean McEniff close today, a former mayor of Bundoran has accused one of the candidates running of “trying to steal the seat”.
Frankie O’Gorman, Bundoran, says Dunkineely candidate Roger Meehan should not be allowed by Fianna Fáil HQ to seek the seat because he is not from the late Cllr McEniff’s area.
Using a football analogy, Mr O’Gorman said Mr Meehan was trying to “get in by the back door” to a seat that will be filled by a co-option.
“This seat doesn’t belong to Sean McEniff, it belongs to the people who voted in their thousands for him from Laghey, Pettigo, Ballintra, Bundoran and Ballyshannon and environs. They voted for a man who was local to them and worked for them for 50 years. These people didn’t vote for someone from Dunkineely,” Mr O’Gorman said.
He added: “I am really annoyed by this, I’m annoyed with Fianna Fáil in Dublin. This is wrong. I have no issue with the other two candidates (Michéal Naughton and Billy Grimes) as they are from the area, but Roger is not; let him run in the full election in 2019 by all means, but not this time.”
Mr O'Gorman refuted the suggestion that his comments were in any way motivated by the fact that Mr Meehan has a very real chance of securing the seat because all other candidates, McIntyre, Naughton and Grimes are from the one geographical area.
“It’s nothing to do with that, this is a seat for the people from Bundoran to Pettigo, not Dunkineely or Killybegs.”
Pressed on this he agreed that if Billy Grimes, Michéal Naughton and Elizabeth McIntyre all run, they could take votes from each other.
Reliable sources have told the Democrat that a substantial number of paid-up members entitled to vote at the July convention will be from west of Donegal Town - the Donegal Municipal District stretches from Bundoran to Glencolmcille.
We were unable to confirm that a majority of paid-up party members voting may well come from Mr Meehan’s area or from areas near him but several sources have made this claim to us. 
Mr O’Gorman, who served in an independent capacity as mayor of Bundoran for two years, but subsequently joined Fianna Fáil 15 years ago, also feels “Fianna Fáil party headquarters” should have intervened before now in the process to replace the late councillor.
He said the late Cllr McEniff had worked and supported the people of all Donegal, but in particular the people from his local area and they in turn voted for him on a very parochial, local basis: “Billy and Michéal are from the area Sean represented, so I have no problem with them, but Roger is not. He’s from Dunkineely, which is well outside the area Sean represented.
“The people who voted for Sean were not from Dunkineely or anywhere near it. The two thousand plus votes Sean got are from people from Laghey, Ballintra, Rossnowlagh, Pettigo, Bundoran and Ballyshannon, this is not Sean McEniff’s seat, this is their seat.
“I cannot understand how anyone from outside the local area Sean represented is entitled to run in this case. This is different, it is a co-option.
“If he wants to run in 2019, away he goes, no problem, let him take on Niamh Kennedy and people from his own area, ” Mr O’Gorman stated.
Background
Following the death of Cllr McEniff, who served on Donegal County Council for more than 50 years, it was anticipated that his daughter, Elizabeth McIntyre, would be co-opted without opposition, to fill the vacancy.
However, as revealed two weeks ago by this newspaper, Ms McIntyre will not have a clear run with other candidates from Ballyshannon, Laghey and Dunkineely all confirming they also want to be considered by the 205 Fianna Fáil party members entitled to vote when a convention takes place in July.
The Democrat was unable to contact Mr Meehan before going to press to comment on Mr O’Gorman’s claims.