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'No point whinging': Cowen 'accepts' surprise decision to add two candidates to his election ticket

In a surprise move yesterday, Fianna Fáil announced three party candidates will run for Midlands North West constituency.


TD BARRY COWEN says he has “accepted the decision of Fianna Fáil” to add two senators as candidates to contest the Midlands North West constituency in the European elections.

Barry Cowen won a selection convention ballot last month against Senators Niall Blaney and Lisa Chambers – but in a surprise move yesterday by the party, Blaney and Chambers were added to the ticket.

Fianna Fáil has not had an MEP in the constituency since Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher lost his seat a decade ago.

The European elections will take place in June. The Midlands-North-West constituency will elect five MEPs.

In a statement released today, Cowen said he was “delighted” to be selected by the party members at the recent convention, stating he “will now lead out our team in the campaign”.

‘No point whinging’

When asked by The Journal if he is unsure about the decision to run three candidates, he said: “Look, there is no point whinging and crying about it. I accept it. It’s fine.”

There has been a mixed reaction within the party to the decision to run three candidates, with some fearing it will split the vote and others stating there is enough geographical spread for all three to run.

It is understood there is a split in the party as to whether it is the correct decision. 

While Chambers was always expected to run alongside Cowen, due to Blaney doing exceptionally well in the convention, finishing second to Cowen with 803 votes to 894, a call was made to run all three. 

“My statement says exactly what I feel. I was selected by the convention so I’m happy to lead out,” said Cowen today, stating that he will work with the other candidates to ensure the party wins a seat.

“The membership are of the belief and contention that I was best placed, well located geographically, to take a lot of the constituency, especially in the Midlands and Leinster. On that basis, I will go out and win support myself and to transfer to my colleagues, and I would hope they will do the same in their respective areas,” he added.

“We must remedy the failure of Fianna Fáil to secure an MEP in this constituency in 2014 and 2019 despite having had enough votes to do so. I hope now to ensure this strategy, geography and transfers secures that elusive representation and proves successful on voting day,” Cowen said in his statement today.

Trusting party strategists

Speaking to The Journal about the decision, Chambers said she trusts the party strategists that this is the right call.

“We are genuinely targeting two seats,” she said, stating that there are two schools of thought.

“Do you run three to take two seats or do you run two to take two. And honestly, until the election happens, it is very hard to say which strategy is the right one, but on balance, they [the party] felt that with the geography of it, that’s the best chance of getting two seats is to run three,” said Chambers.

When asked if he thought running three candidates could split the Fianna Fáil vote, Cowen told The Journal: “You have to win the vote before you can split it.”

When asked if he was confident the party could take two seats in the constituency, he said:

“You can’t say you’re confident you’d take too. I hope to win one and I will play my card try and maximise our vote and if that gets us two, that’s great, but we have none at the moment.”

Chambers admitted that there is always that fear of splitting the vote, adding that she hopes it works out and is the right strategy.

The Mayo senator said it is all about trusting the process and the team. 

“I am trusting that the people making the decisions. They’re a very experienced team of strategists that make these decisions… so I’m happy with the decision,” she said.

“For me, I’m on the ticket and I am delighted. I’ll be running my own campaign and making my pitch and others will do the same,” she said.

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