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As Fianna Fáil weathers its week from hell, two former ministers are planning comebacks

Martin Mansergh and John Curran, please step forward.

TODAY SHOULD HAVE been a day of celebration for Fianna Fáil – and it was, to a degree.

Bobby Aylward returned to the Dáil following his success in the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election at the weekend.

However, his moment in the sun was somewhat overshadowed – to put it mildly.

Just as Fianna Fáil was coming to terms with Senator Averil Power’s shock resignation, Ken Curtin – a prominent Yes Equality campaigner – stepped down.

Curtin was also the party’s public relations officer for Cork East, and secretary of the Cobh cumann.

During an interview with Newstalk, Power claimed she was asked to vacate her office in Leinster House to make way for Aylward.

Earlier, Timmy Dooley admitted Power’s departure made the parliamentary party look ‘male, stale and outside The Pale’.

Not everyone is jumping ship, though. Former junior minister and advisor to three taoisigh Martin Mansergh is hoping to make a comeback.

Screenshot 2015-05-26 at 2.37.29 PM Micheál Martin and Martin Mansergh at the 2013 Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis

Mansergh is one of the candidates putting his name forward to be chosen at the Fianna Fáil selection convention for the new five-seat Tipperary constituency in Thurles on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, as we suggested in January, former government chief whip John Curran is putting his name forward for selection in Dublin Mid-West where a convention is taking place tomorrow night.

Curran is up against local councillor Trevor Gilligan and local Fianna Fáil member Catriona McClean.

The contest is seen as a straight battle between Curran and Gilligan for the nomination.

screenshot.1432661566.99777 Curran told us in January he was thinking about a comeback Source: www.thejournal.ie

Mansergh told TheJournal.ie the suggestion he stand came from “party supporters and activists in my area of the constituency – west Tipperary”.

Given the events of the last 24 hours, irrespective of how I fare, I’m glad to be making a stand that Fianna Fáil is a party worth standing for.

Mansergh, who served under Charlie Haughey, Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern, joined in the chorus of Fianna Fáil members who said Power’s criticism of party leader Micheál Martin was unfair.

He was elected to the Dáil in Tipperary South in 2007, but lost his seat in 2011. During his term, he served as junior minister for the Office of Public Works and also the Arts. He was previously a Senator.

In terms of Power saying the party wasn’t fully committed to campaigning for the marriage referendum, he said:

On issues like that where a party takes a stance there will inevitably be members of the party that have a different view. It seems to me the issue is she wanted Micheál Martin, in an old-fashioned way, to sort of impose the leadership view and kick out anyone that didn’t agree with it.

Micheál Martin is actually a genuine liberal and doesn’t actually believe in the kind of draconian authoritarianism that is a feature of some parties even to this day.

Screenshot 2015-05-26 at 2.39.35 PM Martin Mansergh

Mansergh said he “strongly” supports Martin.

He noted that the party’s priority in Carlow-Kilkenny was winning the by-election, but said “the referendum seemed to be going okay anyway”.

Mansergh didn’t want to say how he voted in the referendum as it is “a private matter”.

He said he outlined the pros and cons of same-sex marriage in his Irish Catholic column and noted that “even though it was a strong [Yes] result … 38% [who voted no] is still quite a lot of people.”

Mansergh has previously written that the referendum was “a dry run for a sequel, the repeal of the eighth (pro-life) amendment, if politicians need no longer fear religious factors weighing on voters”.

He said his view had been proven after Labour recently said a referendum on repealing the controversial amendment should be held.

Mansergh said he was “delighted” the same-sex marriage issue was brought in by way of a public vote, rather than being decided by the courts or the Dáil.

Speaking on Today with Keelin Shanley earlier, Curtin said liberal voices like his and Power’s were being ignored in Fianna Fáil.

Screenshot 2015-05-26 at 2.42.01 PM Averil Power

Mansergh said there is a need for “space in parties for different views”, adding: “I would hate to see liberalism turn into a new authoritarianism.”

I have worked for three taoisigh – not even they are always privately in agreement with 100% of party policies.

In terms of Power and Curtin leaving the party, Mansergh said: “These things happen in all parties – there have been resignations from Fine Gael, Labour and so on.”

“Averil Power was an important and prominent part of party, but the party will carry on.”

Mansergh said Fianna Fáil  is returning to mainstream politics, and that’s why he wants to be involved.

He thinks the electorate will be faced with two choices at the next general election, stating: “The alternative to a Fine Gael-led coalition, is a Fianna Fáil-led coalition.”

Tipperary South and Tipperary North are being amalgamated to make a new constituency that has no sitting Fianna Fáil TD.

According to Tipp FM, six candidates are set to contest the Fianna Fail selection convention. Alongside Mansergh, will be councillors Michael Smith, John Carroll, Jackie Cahill, Imelda Goldsboro and Siobhan Ambrose.

- Hugh O’Connell contributed reporting 

Disaster for Fianna Fáil as prominent Yes Equality campaigner quits

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Órla Ryan

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