Thursday 22 March 2018

O Cuiv makes humiliating climbdown to stay with FF

Fiach Kelly and Fionnan Sheahan

EAMON O Cuiv's ambitions to become Fianna Fail leader lay in tatters last night -- and his reputation is now dependent on the EU fiscal treaty referendum being rejected.

Mr O Cuiv was forced into a humiliating climbdown after threatening to leave the party over his opposition to the treaty.

After considering his position in the party, the grandson of Fianna Fail founder Eamon de Valera decided to abide by leader Micheal Martin's demand not to campaign for a No vote.

But Mr O Cuiv is poised to remain a festering thorn in the party leader's side.

He vowed to remain in the party, said he would speak out again when he disagreed with the leadership and admitted he still has leadership ambitions.

However, TDs last night dismissed any possibility Mr O Cuiv could lead the party, with one saying: "There is no chance whatsoever that the parliamentary party at the moment would move from Micheal to Eamon O Cuiv. Not a pup's chance."

His behaviour yesterday and over the weekend has seriously damaged his reputation among Fianna Fail TDs and senators, with some describing his actions as a publicity stunt.

"It was like Chicken Licken, Ducky Lucky and Goosey Loosey -- we thought the sky was going to fall down," one TD said. "All he's doing is damaging the party."

TDs said his only hope of rehabilitation was if there was a No vote in the referendum, which would give him the chance to say he was right.

"If it is beaten he can turn around and say 'I told you I was right, ye tried to muzzle me and shut me up and I was right'," another TD said, speculating that he could use such an outcome to burnish his leadership credentials.


"I'd imagine that's what he thinks alright but he's wasting his time. If Micheal Martin left in the morning he still wouldn't get in. Dev senior is dead and buried but we'll be digging him up if we go this way."

The TD also said Fianna Fail needed to break with the past and connections with the economic crash, adding Mr O Cuiv was "equally as toxic" as Mr Martin since both sat around the Cabinet table when crucial decisions, such as the bank guarantee, were made.

Others said Mr O Cuiv backed away from leaving the party when he found it hard to drum up support for his position.

"The only people following him are a few errant senators," another deputy added. "Even some of his own people in the west think he's gone too far."

The latest wobble by Mr O Cuiv erupted on Sunday night, when he said he faced a "stark decision".

"I have two decisions -- leave the party or say nothing about the treaty," he said. But less than 24 hours later he pulled back on those threats.

At a press conference yesterday he launched a broadside against the EU and a Yes vote before vowing to remain silent for the rest of the referendum campaign.

"This has been one of the most difficult decisions of my political career," the Galway West TD said.

"After careful consideration of the situation I believe that the best contribution I can make is as a member of Fianna Fail.

"In arriving at this decision I was heavily influenced by the advice of many like-minded Fianna Fail members and supporters from around the country and particularly from within my own constituency, who urged me to work for change from within Fianna Fail," he said.

"I will therefore continue to work from within to restore the party to its original ethos of representing all classes and creeds in Ireland bound by the common purpose of working for the good of all the Irish people as opposed to any sectional interest."

Irish Independent

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