The Dermot Flanagan nomination debacle that upset the Fianna Fáil party in Mayo this week was due to be thrashed out at a Mayo Dáil Ceantair meeting in the Welcome Inn Hotel in Castlebar last night (Thursday ). Mr Flanagan himself was due to appear at the meeting and personally explain how it was he had canvassed for four days in the county to garner support as a potential candidate for the party, following which he announced on Friday January 14 that he intended to seek a nomination, before suddenly withdrawing entirely from the campaign 48 hours later.
Raised hopes for Fianna Fáil in Mayo over last weekend were dashed by the dramatic turnaround which has left a sour taste in the mouth for many within the party, especially other potential candidates such as Al McDonnell and Blackie Gavin in Castlebar, who agreed to stand back and clear the way for Mr Flanagan to run.
Former Mayo footballer and All-Star, Mr Flanagan, had announced on Friday January 14 last that he intended to seek a Fianna Fáil nomination in Mayo for the General Election. However on Monday he issued a follow-up statement that he would not be running after all due to 'professional commitments'.
Mr Flanagan, who specialises in local government, planning, environmental, and public infrastructure law, originally stated he had consulted with all elected party members in Mayo and members of the Fianna Fáil organisation, to ascertain the level of support. In putting his name forward he said he was influenced by the desire within the Fianna Fáil organisation and the wider community for strong representation at a time of challenge for the county and country.
“While it might not be considered a good time to face the electorate as a Fianna Fáil candidate, I am confident I can address the real concerns of people and demonstrate the capability and leadership necessary to serve the people of Mayo in the challenges ahead,” he said. He added that he was delighted with the pledges of support given to him and announced that if selected, he would set up his permanent home in Castlebar with his wife and family.
Yesterday evening's meeting in Castlebar was expected to get hot and heavy with Fianna Fáil members in Mayo demanding answers as to how such a debacle should have occurred in the first place. The election strategy for the party in Mayo must also be decided as it still remains unclear whether a single- or multi-candidate strategy will be followed.