Sunday 23 October 2016

Many Fianna Fáil members agree with me, says Power

Philip Ryan and Niall O’Connor

Published 28/05/2015 | 02:30

Senator Averil Power said she had received the backing of former colleagues
Senator Averil Power said she had received the backing of former colleagues

Senator Averil Power says she is getting messages of support from Fianna Fáil members who believe she made the right decision by quitting the party over the Marriage Equality Referendum.

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Ms Power dramatically resigned, claiming she could no longer support the party or its leader Micheál Martin, who she described as a “leader without followers”.

Fianna Fáil rounded on the now-Independent senator, claiming she quit because she was not allowed run as the party’s only election candidate in her constituency in Dublin Bay North.

However, Ms Power insisted she has received the backing of former colleagues including past Fianna Fáil TDs.

“I have been getting texts from ordinary members, councillors and former office holders, saying their views are the same as mine, and they’ve come to the same conclusion with the party, and that I’ve made the right decision,” she said.

Yesterday, Ms Power officially joined the Independent group of senators to ensure she has speaking time in the Seanad.

The Dublin Bay North senator joins Fiach Mac Conghail, Marie-Louise O’Donnell, Mary Ann O’Brien, Jillian van Turnhout and Katherine Zappone.

Ms Power said she was looking forward to working with “like-minded people”.

“They vote with the Government or against the Government depending what the issue is, so it will be nice to have that freedom of conscience,” she told the Irish Independent.

“They contacted me and said they had spoken about it. I have worked with them in different guises so it’s a lovely fit. At least, now I know where I stand in the Seanad,” she added.

Ms Power was asked to leave her office on the Fianna Fáil corridor in Leinster House within hours of her shock resignation but has since been accommodated by the Oireachtas elsewhere.

Fianna Fáil’s remaining senator, Mary White, said Ms Power was the “apple of Micheál Martin’s eye” and she should have stayed in the party. “She didn’t speak to anybody but she shouldn’t have done it. She should have stayed put.

“She should have gone for convention like the rest of us,” she said.

Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton said Fianna Fáil’s treatment of Ms Power illustrates that “diversity of opinion” is not welcome in the mainstream political parties.

Ms Creighton said the events surrounding Ms Power’s departure from Fianna Fáil “sums up everything I know about politics”.

And Ms Creighton admitted that her new party “wouldn’t shut the door” to Ms Power, but said they had had no conversations about her joining Renua.

“To my mind, it sums up everything I already know about politics, or at least the old political establishment.

“Diversity of opinion on really sensitive social issues – that different people have strong opinions on – is just not welcome in the old parties,” Ms Creighton said.

“The passion of individuals like Averil Power is something to be welcomed in politics, not something to be feared. So that’s my view on the matter,” she added.

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