Tuesday 23 May 2017

TDs warn of 'faultline' in Martin and O Cuiv row

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FIANNA Fail TDs last night warned that an emerging split between Micheal Martin and his deputy leader Eamon O Cuiv had to be patched up.

But, despite the entrance of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness into the Aras race, they insisted Mr Martin is right not to run a presidential candidate.

During an acrimonious parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday night, Mr O Cuiv threatened to resign as Mr Martin's deputy. He said he could not support the approach being put forward by Mr Martin, who believes Fianna Fail should not nominate any presidential candidate -- and TDs were convinced last night he is trying to undermine his leader.

Fianna Fail senator Labhras O Murchu is seeking the party's nomination to run as an Independent candidate, and the parliamentary party will make a final decision on Tuesday.

Mutterings

Fianna Fail TDs and senators are taking the weekend to reflect on it, but some said Mr Martin will win out. There was also unhappiness among senior TDs about Mr O Cuiv's actions.

"It all goes back to the leadership election, O Cuiv thinks it should be him," one TD said. "There is a clear faultline between Micheal and O Cuiv now. "

Mr Martin made no comment yesterday, while Mr O Cuiv did not return calls.

One TD said Mr Martin should have been more careful of Mr O Cuiv's "mutterings" when appointing him deputy leader in place of the late Brian Lenihan.

Another said that while the pair were friendly, there is "a difference of ideas and how to approach things".

"Martin can't go on supporting government policies and sticking to the line that we should support the four-year plan," the deputy added.

"Every time (finance spokesman) Michael McGrath says the Government is right, it makes us look like Fine Gael lite. It creates the view that Sinn Fein is the real opposition. You can change away from it subtly."

Another TD said Mr O Cuiv was "going through a political mid-life crisis" and said Mr Martin's current difficulties stemmed from the Seanad election when he supported younger candidates over the older, sitting senators, as well as his decision not to allow MEP Brian Crowley run for president. "Nobody knows what O Cuiv's at. Martin is up against three things. O Cuiv is agitating, the senators who weren't on his preferred list see this as payback and the MEPs are giving it to him because of Crowley."

Irish Independent

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