According to the Irish Times today, Willie O’Dea has strongly advised MEP for Ireland South Brian Crowley not to seek the party’s nomination as a presidential candidate citing the party’s annihilation in the recent general election for his reluctance to field a candidate. I spoke with another Fianna Fáil TD this week who has a totally divirgent view.
Fianna Fáil TD John Browne has said he will not support an external Presidential candidate and said the party should throw caution to the wind and instead field a candidate itself.
“I have always said that I will not be supporting anyone from outside the party and that I will support Brian Crowley, if he throws his hat into the ring. In fairness, I know that Brian is interested but he had to take a step back while the Gay Byrne thing was in the news,” he said.
While some prominent party members have said Fianna Fáil should eschew the presidential election and instead focus its energies on the next local elections in 2013, Mr Browne said this would be a calamitous mistake.
“We are a political party and we are in the business of fighting elections. Just because we did badly in one general election doesn’t mean we should give up – I mean Wexford last won an All-Ireland in 1996 but we compete in the championships every year.
“What will it say to people if we just give up and bow out of the race? We’ve a great history of winning Presidential elections and it would be a huge mistake if we were to sit this one out on the sidelines,” said the Wexford TD.
Mr Browne said his preference would be for Mr Crowley, rather than Deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív or former Minister Mary Hanafin, to get the party nomination.
“Éamon Ó Cuív has expressed an interest but, in my opinion, we can’t afford to lose a TD from the Dáil and, personally, I think that Brian Crowley has the best chance of winning. I know some people have said that contesting the election will cost us a lot of money but, with the present field of candidates, I’d be very surprised if Brian Crowley didn’t do very well.
“He has a very loyal bunch of supporters, he gets a huge vote and even when Fianna Fáil was very unpopular, during the last European elections, he did very well. I think he’ll give Michael D Higgins, the bookies favourite, a run for his money,” he said.
Mr Browne said the party would make its mind up at its next parliamentary party meeting in September and said this was plenty of time to mount a campaign for the October 27th election.