Barry Andrews: carrot of deputy leader job

NEW Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin will make a series of key announcements tomorrow on his deputy leader, a newly created front bench and a director of elections.

Martin is also engaged in intense behind-the-scenes discussions on Fianna Fáil's candidate strategy with a view to reducing the number of candidates the party is running.

Dublin South, where Senator Maria Corrigan has been selected to stand, continues to be the focus of speculation. The Sunday Tribune has learned that approaches were made to junior minister Conor Lenihan to move to the constituency from adjacent Dublin South-West.

There are fears in the party that with both Lenihan and Charlie O'Connor standing in South-West, they will split the vote and end up with no seats. This would be addressed if Lenihan were to move to Dublin South – where his high profile could shore up the Fianna Fáil seat – but it is understood he is strongly opposed to moving.

Efforts have already been made to get either tourism minister Mary Hanafin or children's minister Barry Andrews to move to Dublin South from next-door Dun Laoghaire, but both have resisted.

The deputy leadership could be a reward for Andrews' decamping to Dublin South but he is adamant that he will not move and the most likely scenario is that Maria Corrigan will be the sole Fianna Fáil candidate in Dublin South.

The position of director of elections is seen as equally vital. It is understood Brian Cowen had earmarked PJ Mara, who filled the job in the last two general elections, for the position. However, while Mara will be playing a role during the campaign, Martin is expected to go for a different approach. Noel Dempsey and Tony Killeen are seen as possible choices.

Meanwhile, Cowen is considering with his family this weekend whether or not to contest the election. It is understood that he is strongly leaning towards not running.

There is a view that, if he does not contest, one of his running mates, junior health minister John Moloney, may also exit the political stage.

The Taoiseach's younger brother Barry is expected to replace Cowen on the ticket. The Sunday Tribune understands that an internal Fianna Fáil poll, carried out earlier this month, raised eyebrows when Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley and Labour's John Whelan came in first and second place respectively, with Cowen trailing in third – ahead of Fine Gael's Charlie Flanagan and Marcella Corcoran Kennedy.