Sunday 20 August 2017

Fianna Fail board resigns after ex-Renua councillor rejoins

Backlash: Micheal Martin Photo: Tony Gavin
Backlash: Micheal Martin Photo: Tony Gavin
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin is facing a backlash after allowing a former councillor to rejoin the party after he defected to Lucinda Creighton's Renua Ireland.

Eight senior members of Fianna Fail's local officer board in Kilkenny resigned en masse from their positions last Monday after the party accepted Councillor Patrick McKee's application to rejoin. Fianna Fail councillors on Kilkenny County Council also voted by a majority to block Mr McKee joining their group.

"Micheal is telling people he has to take applications at face value, well someone should ask him why he's not taking Bertie Ahern's application at face value," a Kilkenny Fianna Fail source said.

Mr McKee quit the party before the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election in 2014 and joined Ms Creighton's Renua to run against Fianna Fail's Bobby Aylward. Mr Aylward won the seat for Fianna Fail and was re-elected in last year's general election.

It is understood Mr Aylward raised concerns about Mr McKee's application directly with Mr Martin and Fianna Fail general secretary Sean Dorgan. The majority of the councillors opposing Mr McKee joining the party are supporters of Mr Aylward.

The members of the officer board who stepped down included the chair, vice chair, secretary, assistant secretary and two treasurers. Their resignations will cause serious organisational difficulties for Fianna Fail in the county.

Last week, Mr Aylward told the Sunday Independent there should have been "consultation" with the local members rather than a "diktat" being sent down from party headquarters. The members of the officer board who stepped down include the chair, vice chair, secretary, assistant secretary and two treasurers. Their resignation will cause serious organisational difficulties for Fianna Fail in the country.

Yesterday, Mr McKee said he was disappointed the board members decided to resign after he was accepted back into the party. "I haven't had an opportunity to speak with any of them but they took the decision to step down and I'm very disappointed that they felt the need to do so," he said.

"I'm not aware of the internal workings of the party at present. I made a decision to join and that's my only concern but anything to do with the internal workings of the party is a matter for those in positions of power locally. I've expressed my desire to rejoin and that has always been my intention. I spoke to the other councillors over the last weeks and months and at no time was I told I would be stopped."

Mr McKee polled well in the 2014 by-election, receiving 9.5pc of the vote, but got just 3.5pc of the vote in the general election two years later.

Sunday Independent

Also in this section