Fianna Fáil is hoping to sweep up anti-pylon and anti-wind turbine rural votes in Cork, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford by putting forward an outspoken anti-pylon campaigner in the European elections.
Kieran Hartley, a Waterford-based father of two, of Comeragh against Pylons, is to go forward for selection at the party’s convention at Clonmel this Sunday.
Also going forward for selection is sitting MEP Brian Crowley, a massive vote-getter; and Adrian O’Higgins from Kilkenny, a Fianna Fáil researcher.
Micheál Martin’s party is seeking to put forward two candidates in the European elections, and the inclusion of Hartley could attract disillusioned rural voters right across the proposed pylon corridor.
Anti-pylon groups are increasingly questioning the economics behind Ireland’s renewable energy policy, and so Hartley may also bring in anti-wind energy campaigners.
Sitting Labour MEP, Phil Prendergast, who has been vocal in her opposition to the €500m pylons project, could suffer from Hartley joining the race.
Fine Gael is putting forward sitting MEP Sean Kelly and his party colleagues, Senator Deirdre Clune and Simon Harris TD. Liadh Ní Riada of Sinn Féin; Grace O’Sullivan of the Green Party; and ‘Ballyhea Says No’ anti-bailout campaigner, Diarmuid O’Flynn are also running.
Mr Hartley said: “Nobody is fighting for rural Ireland and that’s why a number of parties approached me as they could see what I was doing.”