The pre-election temperature has cranked up in Tramore with suggestions that two ex-Fianna Fail candidates seeking County and Town Council seats as Independents would jump back on board the party bus if successful.
Blaise Hannigan and Pat Finnerty have been forced to vehemently deny the idea, both insisting they are now Independents for life.
It was Ann Marie Power (FG), a Town Council colleague of Blaise Hannigan, who issued a statement challenging them to confirm their positions. She maintained that on the canvass trail she encountered several of the electorate who were convinced they were merely using the Independent tag as a temporary flag of convenience and if elected would have themselves reinstated as FFrs.
She felt they were confusing people and pinpointed a “creeping scepticism” about the Fianna Fail strategy, with a multiplicity of its councillors nationally deciding to run as Independents.
Both Cllr Power and fellow Town Council member Joe Conway (Ind) accuse Blaise Hannigan and Pat Finnerty of having jumped ship, although at the same time Cllr Conway insisted that he respect all candidates and it was his policy not to publicly criticise anyone who had the courage to stand.
Cllr Hannigan is adamant he is now Independent for the rest of his days. Disappointed by the party’s failure to nominate him for the County elections, in which he stood unsuccessfully last time, he decided to go it alone and said the response on the doorsteps had been hugely encouraging. He said lots of people were committing to him who would not have done so had he been representing Fianna Fail.
He said that if Cllrs Power or Conway were casting aspersions on any other candidates then they were displaying a lack of respect and must feel under pressure themselves.
“I respect every candidate who has the guts to stand, irrespective of which party they represent, or none”, he stated.
Pat Finnerty responded similarly to rejection by the party. He too said he would now be Independent for life, although he remained on friendly terms with people from all parties and none. “I will talk to anybody”, he said, “but I will not be re-joining Fianna Fail no matter what”.
He feels he has a better chance of election as an Independent, citing pledges of backing from traditional FF voters who said they would not support the party again on account of the current economic circumstances.
Mr Finnerty invites anyone interested to check out his profile on mycandidate.ie.