FF ready to begin its sea change of reforms
Martin will outline sweeping new rules to party faithful at Ard Fheis
In a plan that might make Charles Haughey turn in his grave, Fianna Fail is to establish a "commission" to determine how members can "become more involved" in decisions such as the election of a leader and whether the party should enter a coalition government in the future.
There will also be wide-ranging discussion of what has been termed "proposals concerning ethical standards" at the party's Ard Fheis at the RDS on March 2 and 3.
A Fianna Fail source said yesterday: "The proposals that are being brought forward are the culmination of a year on the road for the party leader where he has criss-crossed the country every week visiting units at every level of the organisation."
Material from an advance copy of an organisational change document, to be presented to the Ard Fheis, which has been seen by the Sunday Independent, suggests that Micheal Martin is proposing sweeping changes.
It states: "The vast majority of members accepted that Fianna Fail must radically change the way it operates and must increase its on-the-ground activities.
• The cumann must remain the foundation stone of the party.
• Individual members must be the driving force of Fianna Fail and there must be an end to the 'top-down' approach.
• Members strongly support empowering members through the introduction of one-member, one-vote.
• Reforms are required in the work of the Ard Chomhairle, headquarters and the parliamentary party. These reforms must result in improved communications at all levels and must give members a greater say in the running of the party.
• Members want to have a role in the election of the leader.
• Members want to be consulted in advance of the party entering government.
• Members want Fianna Fail to have a strong ethics code which leaves no doubt that conduct which brings the party into disrepute will not be tolerated.
• Once the main proposals are implemented, members felt that there should be a further opportunity to review their operation, after a three-year period."
Another significant motion to be put to the Ard Fheis states: "The parliamentary party shall prepare regular reports on its activities. It shall report to each Ard Chomhairle meeting and make written reports available to all members at a minimum twice in each year."
Under the heading, Proposals Concerning Ethical Standards, it is stated that throughout the consultation process, members stressed that there should be "no toleration of low standards" at any level of the party.
"These new provisions reinforce the duty of all members and representatives to uphold the highest ethical standards.
"In the candidate selection process, a new provision will require candidates to give the party a declaration of interests along the lines of the one they would have to provide to the Standards in Public Office Commission if they were elected."