If you enjoyed ‘Fianna Fáil Selection Convention 2015’, you’ll absolutely love the sequel!
There’s seldom a dull moment with the local Soldiers of Destiny…and so it is again as pretenders to the recently-claimed crown of ‘King Eugene’ line up for a ‘battle royale’ at the party’s forthcoming selection convention.
Of course, Deputy Eugene Murphy is the sitting TD, the man in possession and steeled to fight off any challenges from within or outside his party…but you can be sure of two things: (1) Eugene will be closely monitoring developments within the party ranks in Roscommon; (2) bitter experience will have taught him, his success last year notwithstanding, to trust party HQ at his peril.
Remember, in 2015 Fianna Fáil HQ contemplated cancelling the selection convention and imposing their own candidate. Reason prevailed, the convention went ahead and Eugene Murphy won (defeating Sean Og Higgins, with various other nominees withdrawing).
FF HQ responded by adding high profile GAA star Shane Curran; if anything, that dramatic move boosted Murphy’s campaign and he won a seat in Dáil Eireann.
Cllr. Orla Leyden’s decision to contest the next selection convention has upped the temperature now. Cllr. Leyden had told the Roscommon People in June that she might consider a Dáil bid in “five or ten years.”
What’s changed? Some within the party view her recent declaration as ‘merely’ a prelude to possibly targeting her father Terry’s Senate seat (amidst speculation that he won’t stand again). More likely, after years of concentrating solely on local politics, this is a serious and carefully planned Dáil bid on the part of Cllr. Leyden.
Also going to convention are Cllr. John Keogh and Galway-based councillor, Michael Connolly. Sean Og Higgins is also likely to run and others may enter the race too.
Within the party, all types of scenarios are being speculated upon. Some expect Cllr. Keogh to withdraw and perhaps pursue a Senate seat; but Keogh may also have serious intent this time and can of course argue that he is very well placed geographically in the newly-reconfigurated Roscommon/Galway constituency.
Others haven’t ruled out Cllr. Leyden being assured of a place on the party ticket by Fianna Fáil HQ issuing a gender quota directive.
Cllr. Leyden has already said that she would not accept being automatically selected on the gender basis, insisting she wants to contest the convention. Of course if she lost out at convention she could still be added on to the ticket later by HQ (on gender basis or otherwise)!
Given the disdain with which he was treated by party HQ in the recent past, Deputy Murphy won’t be ruling out the possibility that ‘Dublin’ might be supporting another candidate.
Ultimately, the party will surely select two candidates at convention. The only certainty with this unfolding story is that nothing is certain!