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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019
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Enda's warning to FG candidates: Stick within your own battle-lines

The three FG candidates all theoretically signed up to a divide and conquer strategy. But the plan’s apparently been a ‘nightmare’ to manage…

Deirdre Clune
Deirdre Clune
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY’s sent a clear message to the three Fine Gael candidates vying for a European seat in Ireland South today.

The party’s taken a half-page ad in the Irish Independent, calling on all voters to support the FG election strategy in the ten-county constituency.

It’s after Deirdre Clune broke with that strategy yesterday, and sent out a leaflet making unauthorised use of Kenny’s name.

The leaflet, distributed throughout the region with yesterday’s Independent, asked the party faithful to give Clune their number one and then vote down the list for Sean Kelly and Simon Harris in order of their choice.

The offending ad from the Clune campaign [Daragh Brophy]

It’s the latest in a long line of incidents arising from the party’s decision to carve the constituency up three ways.

All three candidates had theoretically signed-up to the ‘divide and conquer’ plan — whereby each would play their geographical strengths, canvassing and making local media appearances within clearly demarcated areas. Only Tipperary and Waterford would be deemed ‘up for grabs’.

The plan hasn’t worked out well in practice, however. One campaign source said trying to manage the vote in the constituency had been “a nightmare”.

In today’s ad, a ‘Message from An Taoiseach’ states…

Fine Gael has three superb candidates in Ireland South [...] all of whom have excellent track records in serving the people.I am appealing to all Fine Gael supporters to vote in accordance with our campaign strategy.

[Daragh Brophy]

A Clune campaign spokesperson said the candidate regarded the whole affair as a “storm in a teacup”.

People aren’t interested in this sort of thing. There are real problems being experienced by people in Ireland South and that’s what we’ll be focusing on for the rest of the campaign.

Harris meanwhile welcomed Kenny’s intervention, saying “the Taoiseach’s name and the Taoiseach’s signature are very important”.

“The Taoiseach put a very clear divide in place and the Taoiseach reiterated that divide this morning,” Harris told TheJournal.ie.

Nobody should be spreading any literature that spouts anything but that divide.

A recent series of opinion polls put Kelly, a former GAA President, on course to be re-elected to Brussels. Clune and Harris are both battling for the fourth seat in the area, where Fianna Fáil’s Brian Crowley looks to top the ballot once again.

Read: Battle lines and cantering elephants: Here’s how Election 2014 is shaping up in Ireland South…

Read: Fine Gael bottled water, giant floating heads and other strange sights from Election 2014

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