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There's a big row over the battle to win back Brian Lenihan's old seat for Fianna Fáil

Councillors Jack Chambers and David McGuinness are vying to be the Fianna Fáil general election candidate in Dublin West.

Updated 1pm 

A ROW HAS broken out in the Fianna Fáil organisation in Dublin West over the decision to allow nine members to move to the constituency days before the convention to select its general election candidate.

Fianna Fáil headquarters has this afternoon upheld its original decision to allow the nine members – known as the Hollystown 9 – to move to Dublin West ahead of tonight’s selection convention.

Fingal county councillors Jack Chambers and David McGuinness will go head-to-head for the nomination to be the Fianna Fáil candidate in Dublin West at the next general election.

Chambers had sought the reversal of the decision to move the nine members from the Fianna Fáil cumann in Dublin Fingal to Dublin West. The matter was adjudicated on by party headquarters in recent days and a decision was made known this afternoon.

The nine votes could be enough to determine the outcome of what is expected to be a closely-fought battle for the Fianna Fáil nomination. The decision on the nine votes is likely to adversely affect Chambers although the contest is expected to be extremely tight tonight.

chambers Jack Chambers Source: Facebook

McGuinness has twice failed to get elected for the party in the two by-elections held since 2011. The seat was formerly occupied by Brian Lenihan, the ex-finance minister who died in 2011.

What happened…

Boundary changes have seen Hollystown in the Mulhuddart local electoral area moved from Dublin Fingal back to Dublin West. All nine members at the centre of the row are believed to reside in Hollystown.

As members of Fianna Fáil’s St Margaret cumann, they were registered to vote in Dublin Fingal, where senator Darragh O’Brien has already been selected, but they asked to move to Dublin West after the boundary changes.

In an urgent letter to party headquarters last week, Chambers argued that this decision is contrary to “the fundamental principles of natural justice”, “inherently unfair” and “contrary to the core values” of Fianna Fáil while also claiming it left the party open to accusations of “gerrymandering”.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie on Monday, Chambers said he expected a decision from HQ before the close of business that day.

“Nominations had closed on Wednesday and nine members were added in on Friday evening. The membership lists were finalised and as I said in the correspondence these members had an opportunity to vote in Dublin Fingal.”

Dublin West By Elections Results Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

However, McGuinness said that the nine members did not even attend the Dublin Fingal selection convention and insisted they be allowed to vote in Dublin West.

“To deny these people to right to vote in their own constituency doesn’t make sense. It’s anti-democratic and I don’t see why it should be changed just because somebody throws their toys out of the pram.”

Speaking on Monday, McGuinness sought to downplay the issue as one for the local party and said that the concerns with Fianna Fáil HQ should not have been highlighted in the media.

“I have not approached the media on this issue at any point. I am not ramping it up,” he added.

First published 23 February 2015

Read: Fianna Fáil spends the most on two by-elections – but fails to nab a seat

Read: What matters to the voters of Dublin West?

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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