The Mercury Is Rising In The Cork East Political Landscape

By Seamus Whelehan

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The race for Fianna Fáil nominations to contest the next general election is on, despite Fine Gael losing one of its senior cabinet.
After days of speculation Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald stepped aside on Tuesday saving the country a snap election.

While MS Fitzgerald’s may have saved Christmas the question remains, how long will Fianna Fáil leave Fine Gael in government and is Charlie Flanagan their next scalp.

This Friday, 1 December almost 300 delegates will be given the responsibility to select their candidate in Cork East when they meet for convention at the Fermoy Mart.
While Fianna Fáil’s confidence and supply agreement with the government remains in place until October, the Fianna Fáil grassroots are preparing for an election possibly within the next six months.

Tomorrow night Cumanns from the Cork East electoral area, will have a choice of three candidates, sitting TD Kevin O'Keeffe, former Junior Minister, Carrigtwohill based Michael Ahern and Cobh Municipality Chairman Padraig O’Sullivan have all put their names forward for the 33rd Dáil.
It’s expected the party will operate a two seat strategy in the constituency whenever the next general election will be called.
That task has been made all that harder for the Cumann members, by the party deciding to pick one candidate at convention, with the Fianna Fáil executive choosing the second.
The river Bride has always split the Cork East constituency geographically and psychologically, north and south.
Whoever is selected this Friday, it’s understood the party faithful will be looking to headquarters, to ensure a candidate is run in both ends of the district.
It’s expected Kevin O’Keeffe will be selected at convention, having the majority of the Party’s vote in the Mitchelstown / Fermoy area.
Cobh Municipality Chairman, Councillor Padraig O'Sullivan is expected to gain the second seat in Cork East, seen as being young, vibrant and highly educated.
However according to a well-placed source within Fianna Fáil, it may not be a clean cut race stating a third person could come from left of field, for that second seat, “a high profile sporting personality with some political persuasions” they said, although they would not be drawn on who that personality could be.
Speaking to the East Cork Journal former Junior Minister Michael Ahern said he “was nominated by a number of people who believe the East of the constituency should have a voice."
“Naturally I am interested, politics is in my blood” and if not selected tomorrow night he said he would see what Fianna Fáil HQ would have to say.
Mr Ahern was first elected to the Dáil in 1982 and held his seat until 2011 where he was eliminated on the 3rd Count.
Mr. Ahern served as a junior minister on three occasions. He was minister for science and technology (1992-1994), minister for trade and commerce (2002-2007) and minister for innovation policy (2007-2008).

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