FF leader facing party revolt after Keaveney's defection
FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin's parachuting in of former Labour Party TD Colm Keaveney has intensified dissent over his leadership.
Seven members of Mr Martin's front bench have expressed disquiet about a "desperate lack of direction" within the party, their recent drop in opinion polls and mounting concern around the poor preparation for next year's local elections.
While there has been recognition of Mr Martin as a "hard worker", a number of Fianna Fail front-bench spokesmen have told the Irish Independent that they have serious misgivings about the continued leadership of Mr Martin into the next election.
"As long as he is leader, then people will be reminded of the damage we did when in Government. We can't get away from that."
One prominent TD said: "It's not working. We are going backward. He works his socks off, but we are slipping in the polls."
"We have no narrative, we have no identity, we have no idea what sort of party we want to be," said another.
"The Government have introduced another tough Budget and their ratings improve and ours slip. Politics is all about momentum and we have none."
The party has yet to conclude its selection of candidates for the local elections next summer, which is also causing concern. "We have known for a very long time that the elections are in 2014 and we still have up to 40 candidates to select. It is a mess," said one TD.
But health spokesman Billy Kelleher said it was normal there would be "teething problems" when someone joined the party in this fashion. He insisted such matters would be ironed out in due course.
On the wider issue of Mr Martin's leadership, Mr Kelleher said political parties had "varied views" in terms of policy and personnel. He said he was not aware of any overt criticism of the leader.
Meanwhile, Mr Keaveney was warned yesterday he would have to win over delegates in his Galway constituency if he planned to stand in the next general election.
The Fianna Fail Galway East chairman Eamon Gilligan said no deal had been done which would see him automatically stand for the party.
Mr Gilligan said the manner and speed of Mr Keaveney's admittance into the party had surprised grassroots members in his Galway constituency.
He said he had received hundreds of calls from grassroots members since news of Mr Keaveney's admittance to the party emerged.
"They have been very mixed, about 50-50. Some people are delighted and other people are not so happy. It's not going to be easy for him."