Yet another blow for 'unlucky' Martin
Published 25/06/2014 | 02:30
FOR many outside the Leinster House bubble, talk about "ALDE" would lead seamlessly to a discussion of Lidl and on to some detailed special offer comparisons.
But this row over super poll-topper Brian Crowley suddenly jumping ship from ALDE – aka the European Parliament Liberal grouping – is in fact big stuff, especially if your name is Micheal Martin. The upshot is that, not only has Fianna Fail lost its one and only Euro MEP, they have also lost a political phenomenon of 20 years duration who hoovered up 180,000-plus votes in last month's election.
It also comes at a bad time for Micheal Martin who has again been shown as a rather "unlucky general" – despite the determination, skill and persistence he had shown on occasions since taking up the poisoned chalice of party leadership in January 2011.
Crowley's departure is another blow to Micheal Martin's leadership. It comes days after claims that a lack authority inside the FF parliamentary party meant he could not sack Niall Collins as justice spokesman after controversy about clemency letters to a judge.
These claims of impaired authority date back to last summer and Martin being forced to concede FF's first open vote on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. Martin's efforts to get his party to support the bill failed to the extent that in the end a majority actually voted against it.
These claims about Martin's lack of internal authority have run periodically and had echoes in candidate selection for last month's election and the handling of former minister Mary Hanafin's return to politics. They take the gloss of Martin's achievements in helping take the party off a vote-share of just 17pc and predictions of extinction after the February 2011 general election.
There has been some bad luck at play here also. FF did actually emerge with the biggest party vote share in the locals last month. They also got the same European election vote share as Fine Gael – but better vote management and luck delivered four MEPs to FG to FF's one.
Brian Crowley's departure now means FF have no MEP and the manner of the departure did not look great. It left some within the party to complain about procedure and point out that Mr Crowley was in hospital and unable to defend his case.
For over a year now Micheal Martin has had at best mixed luck. Unlucky generals can struggle to win the loyalty of their troops.