Feud breaks out between candidate Niall Blaney and Tánaiste at launch of Fianna Fáil European elections – The Irish Times

Tensions over the strategy of three Fianna Fáil candidates in the Midlands-North West constituency boiled over at the party’s European election launch on Friday.

One of the candidates, Senator Niall Blaney, had a public disagreement with Fianna Fáil leader Tánaiste Micheál Martin over the level of support he was getting from the party.

Party members had voted for Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen as their candidate at a selection convention in February.

Donegal’s Blaney, who came second in that race, and former Mayo TD senator Lisa Chambers later joined the list.

Earlier this week, Blaney issued a statement saying Fianna Fáil is in “panic mode” after choosing three candidates to run in the vast constituency.

When asked about the tensions within the formula, Martin said it was “natural.”

He said he campaigned with Mr Blaney and two local election candidates in Cavan, and pledged to campaign with Ms Chambers.

Martin denied it was a mistake to field three candidates, saying: “It is a very large electorate with very different geographies… We believe we have made the right decision in selecting three strong candidates who will compete strongly for the seats.”

During the press conference, Ms. Chambers and Mr. Blaney were asked if they felt supported.

Mrs Chambers responded: “Not only do I feel supported. “I am supported.”

He suggested Fianna Fáil is “in the fray and competing for two seats”, adding: “There are healthy tensions within the party because our candidacy is competitive.”

Blaney said: “Unfortunately I’m not getting the support that the other candidates are getting… and that’s a problem for me.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to appear on national television yet. “I am the only candidate out of six (Fianna Fáil European candidates) that has happened like this.”

Blaney said there was now “a real opportunity to take a seat in the Border Counties and Connacht, but we need the same support over the last two weeks. If the Tánaiste is going to probe, he is going to probe with all three… I am asking for equal opportunities and equal support.”

When asked for a response, Mr Martin said: “I did polls with Niall – the only person I think I haven’t polled with yet is Lisa.”

Blaney chimed in: “Can I qualify that? The one who was with me were two other candidates and I joined.”

Mr. Martin responded: “But that’s what I’ve done with all the candidates. “All the European candidates are with the candidates for the local elections (in the polls).”

Martin added: “We will address how the campaign will be run after the press conference… But there is great support for the party candidates.”

It has not been the only case of infighting in a constituency where Fianna Fáil does not currently have a seat.

At the weekend, Chambers criticized Cowen for describing himself as the “frontrunner.” He called the comments “dismissive and arrogant.”

In response on Friday, Cowen explained that he said this because he was the only one selected by a convention, adding: “That doesn’t mean I’m not trying to win votes just like everyone else.”

The other Fianna Fáil candidates for the European elections are Billy Kelleher MEP and Cynthia Ní Mhurchú in the southern constituency and Barry Andrews in Dublin.

The Fianna Fáil manifesto includes a commitment to enter the EU Migration and Asylum Pact – which the Government has already confirmed it intends to do – and another to advocate for EU funds to invest in infrastructure and services in communities that welcome asylum seekers. Martin said he had “no details” regarding the amount of funding that could be sought.

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