Tuesday 20 February 2018

Grassroots turn on Martin as O Muircheartaigh pulls out

Fionnan Sheahan and Dan Danaher

Independent presidential election hopeful Sean Gallagher last night ruled out seeking Fianna Fail's backing, if his former party chooses not to run a candidate.

His decision came as retired GAA commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh confirmed that he would definitely not contest the presidential election.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin continues to be criticised by members of the party's grassroots about his handling of the presidential election policy.

Mr Martin was branded a "f***ing disgrace" by one critic in an internal discussion among grassroots members.

The attacks come in the wake of MEP Brian Crowley's acrimonious withdrawal from the race and the botched approach made to Gay Byrne to run.

Mr Gallagher was an active member of Fianna Fail and was on the party's national executive. Last year the businessman had considered running for the party in the general election. But since he has appeared to distance himself from his former party and played down his involvement.

Mr Gallagher insists he has cut his ties with Fianna Fail and isn't looking for the endorsement of any party in his bid to become President.

After Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell invited Fianna Fail supporters to vote for him as the party appears unlikely to run a candidate, Mr Gallagher said he won't be going down the same route. He said he would be happy to get votes from supporters of any party.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail's confidential internet discussion group, available only to party members, saw comments about, "Eamon de Valera turning in his grave".


Fianna Fail member Derek Daly, the University of Limerick's students' union president, wrote that Mr Martin was a "f***ing disgrace" over his handing of the presidential election.

"He is not leader of our party, he is acting as if he is the leader of the People's Republic of Micheal Martin," he said.

Fianna Fail Senator Thomas Byrne defended Mr Martin amid anger from the grassroots members.

"He deserves support because he's working so hard for the party," he said.

Meanwhile, former GAA commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh last night became the latest prospective candidate to declare he won't be running.

The 81-year-old joined fellow veteran Gay Byrne in ruling out a bid for the Aras. His decision was not unexpected.

Mr O Muircheartaigh said: "I wish to end ... speculation and confirm that I do not intend to contest the forthcoming election.

"I am honoured and humbled that so many people from all sections of society should have contacted me offering support and assistance. I want to thank them sincerely for their kind offers," he said.

Irish Independent

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