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Monday 19 March 2018

Martin to meet O Cuiv ahead of Fianna Fail parliamentary showdown reporters

FIANNA Fail deputy leader Eamon Ó Cuív has denied he is challenging party leader Micheal Martin over the party's approach to the presidential election.

Speaking on the Adhmhaidin programme on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta this morning, Mr Ó Cuív said the only issue the party had to decide was whether or not it should support an independent candidate or candidates.

Referring to an interview to be broadcast tonight on TV3, Mr Ó Cuív suggested that comments he had made some time ago were being taken out of context in order to apply them to current events.

Mr Ó Cuív tells The Rise and Fall of Fianna Fail: “I think we served the country well. I believe that market, that view, that idea that Fianna Fail represented has to be in Irish politics. “And if it’s not possible to do it under the name Fianna Fail, well, then we’ll have to do it under some other name — but the ideal lives on and that’s the important thing.”

Mr Martin and Mr Ó Cuív are due to meet today as the Presidential election row intensifies in the party.

And Mr Martin will also meet Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú, whose bid to get a nomination for the Aras race prompted a bitter and debate in the party, deepening divisions in the parliamentary party.

A number of younger TDs have urged Mr Martin to confront his critics at a meeting of the parliamentary party tomorrow. They want Fianna Fáil stays completely out of the presidential race.

“This is doing the party huge damage and Micheál has to kill it off tomorrow. If that means losing his deputy leader and a few Senators, so be it,” according to one frontbench spokesman.

Meanwhile, Senator David Norris's chances of becoming a presidential candidate hang on Fianna Fail's divisive approach to the election.

But Mr Norris has still not made any approach to the party about helping him make up the 20 TDs and senators needed for a nomination. And there is no guarantee the party will give him any help either.

Mr Norris said yesterday he will talk to the party about his bid to be nominated. However, Fianna Fail's disarray in its stance on the presidency has thrown him a potential lifeline.

Mr Norris admitted yesterday he is not actually in the contest to become president as he doesn't have a nomination. He again refused to say how many Oireachtas members are actually committed to nominating him for the presidency.

"You're not in the race until you have the numbers. And that's the reality of it. And that's what I am working on. And I will work on that with the goodwill I am getting, I hope I get it," he said.

Thus far, Mr Norris only has the backing of seven TDs and senators. On his quest to get the support for a nomination, the senator said he is "watching the situation" and the work will start today. "I am hopeful. I am very hopeful. I am always a positive person," he said.

With less than 10 days left to secure a nomination, Mr Norris said he would talk to all TDs and senators.


"Fianna Fail is democratically elected. Any person who is democratically elected has a right to nominate and I will talk to anybody," he said.

After a fractious row in Fianna Fail last week over the presidential nominations, party leader Micheal Martin wants to nominate nobody.

Mr Martin became exasperated after Fianna Fail Senator Labhras O Murchu sought the party nomination.

Ahead of a crunch meeting tomorrow to decide what the party will do with the nominations of its 33 TDs and senators, the party leader is understood to still want to rule out nominating anybody.

But Mr O Murchu still wants to run and has the support of some of his party colleagues, so the matter will again come to a head at tomorrow's meeting.

Fianna Fail deputy leader Eamon O Cuiv threatened to resign last week if the motion not to nominate anybody was passed.

Former Independent MEP and former presidential election candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon has also asked for the party's support.

Fianna Fail sources said members of the party are angry at efforts by the senator's supporters to suggest the party had offered to support him.

"Having lost the nominations of Independents and failed to get the backing of councils, and then having people briefing hasn't helped the situation," a source said.

Despite the entry of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, party insiders say there is no going back on the decision not to run a Fianna Fail candidate.

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