Sunday 21 January 2018

FF leader and rebel Ó Cuív try to make peace

Eamon O Cuiv
Eamon O Cuiv
Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin has failed to improve the party’s showing in opinion polls
John Downing

John Downing

Embattled Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has met with long-time party rebel Eamon O Cuív in an effort to end their differences.

Party sources said it was about "mending fences and cooling things down" after a difficult week for the party's 20 TDs and 13 senators.

"It was a 'clear-the-air meeting' and extremely helpful," the party source said.

Earlier, Mr Ó Cuív spoke on the Raidió na Gaeltachta programme, Adhmhaidin. He said morale was low in Fianna Fáil and that he met with party leader Mr Martin on Wednesday night for an hour-and-a-half.

Mr Ó Cuív said he outlined his concerns to the party leader, and added that there was an exchange of views about the direction the party was going in.

Asked if he wanted to lead Fianna Fáil, Mr Ó Cuív said that this was not a leadership issue.

"What is breaking my heart is that the party has not made more progress, because Fianna Fáil has an important role in Irish politics.

"Our opinions differ on what is needed by the party in order to make some progress, but that is natural in any party," Mr Ó Cuív said.


At Leinster House, Mr Ó Cuív said he had said all he was going to say on the matter to Raidió na Gaeltachta. "I went on radio in the first place to talk about air services to the Aran Islands," he said.

The Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West said last weekend that party morale was extremely low, with "an absolute collapse in self-belief."

His comments added to the discomfiture of Mr Martin, who has faced considerable internal criticism in recent days.

Mr Ó Cuív, a former party deputy leader, said there was more fight in Fianna Fáil in 2011 and 2012, when they suffered total electoral meltdown, than there was now.

The Galway TD's comments came as a new Red C opinion poll again showed Fianna Fail failing to break past the 20pc mark, with support for the party on just 18pc.

"If we continue to poll at 18pc, this will see the demise of the Fianna Fáil that people know.

"Fianna Fáil will instead become a small niche party, like the SDLP," he said.

In February 2012, Mr Ó Cuív quit as deputy leader of Fianna Fáil because he objected to the party's support for the referendum on the EU Fiscal Treaty. There followed speculation about whether he would remain as a member of Fianna Fail.

But there was a reconciliation of sorts in July 2012 and Mr Ó Cuív returned to Mr Martin's 20-member front bench team as agriculture spokesman. At the time Mr Martin described Mr Ó Cuív as "a person of significant talent, ability and, above all, commitment to public service".

Mr O Cuív - who is the grandson of the party founder, Éamon de Valera - was elected a TD in 1992.

He was junior Gaeltacht minister from 2002 to 2010 and later Social Protection Minister.

Irish Independent

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