A FINE GAEL candidate has strongly criticised her own party for ‘jettisoning’ her from the ticket in Dublin Bay North in order to try and win two seats.
Stephanie Regan believes an ‘old boys mentality’ is behind the decision to issue instructions to voters in Clontarf to give their first preference to former Dublin lord mayor Naoise Ó Muirí and their number two to Jobs Minister Richard Bruton.
The instruction is in a letter, signed by Fine Gael’s director of elections Brian Hayes and Taoiseach Enda Kenny, that has been dropped in the constituency in the last few days:
Fine Gael’s internal research shows the party has a chance of taking two seats in the competitive five-seater where 20 candidates are running. Strategists have determined that this involves reducing Bruton’s votes and transferring them to Ó Muirí.
Regan was informed of this strategy last week but believes the polling research carried out has been “falsified” and that the decision was taken without any consultation with her or her team.
“This has been decided on the basis of a falsified poll, which is entirely at variance with the response that I and my team are receiving on the doorsteps,” she claimed.
While my initial response was, of course to feel an obligation co-operate and to work as a team, it became clear that this decision was more to do with the ‘boys club mentality and that Regan was being sent to make the tea’.
Hayes and Ó Muirí both declined to comment when contacted today.
Well-placed Fine Gael sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the “political reality” is that vote management is needed to secure two seats for the party.
“We’ve a chance of two seats if we can get Richard’s vote down and Naoise’s vote up. She’s [Regan] going nowhere. She’s run a good campaign but on the basis of research the best way of getting two seats is transferring Richard’s vote to Naoise,” one source said.
Regan insisted that her campaign is “full steam ahead” and that she is currently dropping thousands of leaflets across the constituency which highlight the need to elect a woman.
Fine Gael originally intended to run only two candidates in Dublin Bay North but, at a dramatic selection convention last April, members selected Ó Muirí and Regan, which meant that Bruton had to be added to the ticket.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael will deploy a similar vote management strategy in several constituencies across the country in the final days of the campaign in a bid to maximise the numbers of seats it can win on Friday.
A letter similar to the one in Dublin Bay North will be distributed by Fine Gael to voters in Dublin Bay South tomorrow. They will be urged to give their first preference to Kate O’Connell and their second to incumbent TD Eoghan Murphy in a bid to win two seats.
Similar strategies will be pursued in over a dozen constituencies through letters, social media campaigns and face-to-face canvassing.