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FF leader promises reforms as he urges the grassroots to back deal

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Against: Cllr John Paul Feeley. Picture: James Connolly

Against: Cllr John Paul Feeley. Picture: James Connolly

Against: Cllr John Paul Feeley. Picture: James Connolly

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has pledged a major overhaul of his party to encourage members to vote in favour of the programme for government.

In a document sent to Fianna Fáil members along with their ballot for the vote, Mr Martin said he would hold an internal review of all elections over the past two years.

He said the party must learn from previous campaigns and ensure it was "match fit" for the next general election.

He said this would include major investment in social media and more support for individual candidates.

Members got the document along with a copy of the programme for government and a ballot paper in recent days.

The 'Programme For Strengthening Our Party' states he will soon begin identifying the "next generation of Fianna Fáil community and national representatives".

He also promised to improve communication and services for local authority public representatives and said he would convene a "national councillors' conference" as soon as health guidelines allowed.

Mr Martin said he would also appoint members of the Fianna Fáil front bench to liaise with councillors and relay their concerns to the parliamentary party.

The Fianna Fáil leader said he would hold policy conferences where ministers would be required to attend and update members on their work.

Fianna Fáil will also begin a major recruitment drive which will focus on convincing women, young people and people from minorities to join the party.

Mr Martin said he was "personally committed" to ensuring Fianna Fáil's youth wing and the party's Women's Network were properly supported.

"Whenever the next general election comes, our objective will be to be the largest party in the next Dáil, making seat gains and strengthening our national representation," he said. "I absolutely believe this can be achieved and we should all recommit to making it our objective."

Meanwhile, writing in today's Irish Independent, Mr Martin says "no party can or should expect to have all of its policies implemented" in a programme for government.

However, he says the deal struck with Fine Gael and the Greens sets out a recovery plan that is in line with "Fianna Fáil's core values" and can be clearly seen.

"It is an ambitious programme of change, but it is affordable within reasonable projections for the coming years," he says.

"It includes many of the core policy demands which we made in recent years and it provides us with a blueprint for showing the concrete and positive influence which Fianna Fáil will play.

"There is no more time to waste.

"If this Dáil is to provide leadership and action, then it is vital that this programme is supported and ratified. This would then enable us to get to work helping our country to recover and rebuild."

Mr Martin and his negotiating team have been holding conference calls with members ahead of a vote on the programme for government next week.

Yesterday, Fianna Fáil councillor John Paul Feeley, who is opposed to the deal, said the agreement ignored "rising crime blighting communities across the country".

Mr Feely questioned why the final document did not include Fianna Fáil's election manifesto commitment to increase the number of serving gardaí to 16,000.

Irish Independent