Wednesday 21 February 2018

Party leader won't cut short family holiday in wake of Crowley attack

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin won't be halting his family holidays in west Cork to deal with his party's presidential turmoil.

The shots fired from MEP Brian Crowley on his departure from the presidential race are nothing compared to the frenzy of August 2003 when his then cabinet colleague Martin Cullen opposed the smoking ban, describing it as American-style "political correctness".

Mr Martin, the then Health Minister, stuck with his family break and found support for his position had actually grown by the time he returned to work a month later.

He is adopting a similar strategy now as he attempts to defuse another political landmine.

Mr Crowley's bitter comments weren't helpful to Mr Martin's cause, but the Fianna Fail Munster MEP's relationship with the party hierarchy has been bad for quite some time.

Mr Martin won't be shedding any tears at Mr Crowley's withdrawal as he clearly doesn't buy the theory that not being a TD for the past decade separates the MEP from the party's general unpopularity.

Mr Crowley's claim he could buck the trend of the party's low support levels didn't impress his leader and FF polling showed he wasn't going to win.

And Fine Gael's polling indicates Crowley was getting about 12pc of support.

Mr Crowley's acrimonious exit from the race will raise questions about his future in the party. The Ireland South MEP will be urged by some to run for the presidency as an Independent, but this doesn't appear to be a viable option.

Some TDs have questioned his real desire to run and see his withdrawal as a piece of grandstanding as Mr Crowley has established a record in the party of following his own agenda.

Irish Independent

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