Saturday 3 December 2016

Good news is Martin's on a high. Bad news is he's on a tightrope

Published 19/09/2016 | 02:30

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin with his party’s TDs outside Leinster House
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin with his party’s TDs outside Leinster House

Spool back just a little less than two years. Specifically, to Saturday, October 11, 2014 - a day of dread for Micheál Martin. There were by-election counts in Tallaght and Roscommon town that returned results meaning the leader of the main opposition party had lost his fifth and sixth consecutive by-elections against an unpopular coalition government.

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Not only that, but up to 50,000 people turned out that same afternoon on the streets of Dublin to protest against water charges. Fianna Fáil was still clinging to its ineffectual mantra of "not these kind of water charges and not now".

Mutterings about the Cork TD's future as leader began again. The consensus was that he would hang on in because a beleaguered and depleted party had no alternative.

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