FF members facing new €50 annual fee in local shake-up
Fianna Fail is proposing to charge local party activists €50 a year for membership, making it the most expensive party to join.
Ordinary supporters who want to be listed as Fianna Fail members, but without doing any work for the party, will be charged €75.
The introduction of different types of membership in Dublin is part of a plan to revive the party's flagging fortunes in the capital -- and it will mark the first time members will have to pay a fee.
The charges will be far higher than those of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Green Party.
They will be first levied in Dublin but can be expected to eventually apply to the rest of the country. Membership fees are already proposed for Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford cities.
The new proposals are outlined in a report on the reform of Fianna Fail organisation in the capital, prepared by former junior minister Chris Flood.
The sums may be lowered by Fianna Fail headquarters before being implemented and reduced rates brought in for students and pensioners.
Fine Gael and the Labour Party both charge a €15 membership fee, with €10 for OAPs and €2 for students.
The Green Party charges a €20 membership fee and €5 for those without a wage. This money goes back to the local organisation.
Fianna Fail has between 5,000 to 6,000 members in Dublin city and county.
A senior party source said a membership fee would come in for Dublin, but the final figure has yet to be decided.
"I don't think anybody is hung up on the number. It's more the concept than the figure. It's not a fundraising objective," a source said.
Mr Flood's report recommends the introduction of a new form of party membership in Dublin and scrapping the existing network of organisation units, known as cumann.
He says many of the city-based organisation units "no longer make a real contribution to the work of the party".
"They find themselves registered as required on an annual basis, many with the sole objective of possessing voting rights at candidate selection conventions as well as officer board conventions," he writes.
The report also proposes changing the way party election candidates are selected in Dublin. At present, each cumann nominates delegates to vote at selection conventions, but now it is proposed to give every member a vote.
"Giving every member a vote: for us, that's radical," a party source pointed out.
Fianna Fail is currently languishing in the opinion polls in Dublin.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen delegated Mr Flood to draw up the report following last year's local elections, which left Fianna Fail with just six seats on Dublin City Council -- a quarter of what it had in 1999.
After the European elections, where Eoin Ryan lost his seat, the party is also without an MEP in the capital for the first time.