In Martin, FF now has a prizefighter
The new leader is a breath of fresh air whose abilities as an orator have given Kenny second thoughts about a debate, writes Celia Larkin
A collective sigh of relief more than bellows of jubilation from the rank and file of Fianna Fail marked the election of Micheal Martin as the party's eighth leader.
His composure and humility at his first press conference did more to boost the morale of the party faithful then any rabble-rousing speech could ever have aspired to do. The subtlety with which he distanced himself from the two most recent incumbents was a master class in communication skills, 2011-style. Quietly, politely, fatally, he delivered the crucial blow when he stated: "One of the ways in which politics has failed is that our elections have been dominated by soundbites, personality and political tactics." But it will take more than polished press conferences to re-build a party that has been shaken to its very core. A party facing decimation in the General Election. Mr Martin has an uphill battle.
It's obvious from the outcome of most of the selection conventions throughout the country that those in Fianna Fail charged with planning the election utterly fail to grasp their change in positioning as a political party. They are entering this election as a minority party with just 16 per cent support. They trail Fine Gael which is on 34 per cent and Labour on 24 per cent.