Sunday 25 March 2018

FF TDs to confront 'isolated' McGuinness

Fianna Fail Environment spokesperson Barry Cowen
Fianna Fail Environment spokesperson Barry Cowen
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness is today expected to be challenged by colleagues over his strong criticism of the party ahead of last weekend's Árd Fheis in Dublin.

Mr McGuinness has been left isolated within the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party after he claimed policies were rushed out to stave off criticism from the grassroots.

Party leader Micheál Martin rejected the allegations - despite the fact policies in health, childcare, foreign affairs and housing were all published in the days leading up to the Árd Fheis.

Mr McGuinness also said he believed the organisation needed to change how it developed policy and all levels of the party should feed into decision making. He said grassroots members and senior TDs were not being listened to by the upper echelons of the party - in a clear swipe at Mr Martin's closest aides.

Senior Fianna Fáil sources have described the decision by Mr McGuinness to criticise the party as the Árd Fheis was taking place as "unhelpful" and "damaging".

Party justice spokesperson Niall Collins went as far to say Mr McGuinness has a "credibility" issue during an RTE radio interview on Saturday.

Clare TD Timmy Dooley suggested that Mr McGuinness would argue with himself if he was Fianna Fáil leader.

And the party's environment spokesperson Barry Cowen said he intends to confront Mr McGuinness at today's parliamentary party meeting in Leinster House.

"I have things to say to John McGuinness and I'll say them at the parliamentary party meeting," Mr Cowen said.

In an interview with this newspaper last week, Mr Martin accepted that the party has had an issue with TDs airing their grievances in public inside of behind closed doors.

This was typified by a leak from the parliamentary party meeting that suggested that TDs had discussed what course of action to take if the leader passed away or was removed.

Mr Martin called on his TDs and senators to show discipline given that the General Election campaign has effectively begun.

He said he had good relations with deputies such as Eamon Ó Cuiv and John McGuinness, who had been critical of the party's performance.

"I've said to all of the party that essentially the whistle is blown, the election is on and we need unity of purpose, we need coherence and we need focus from now until the General Election. I think that's accepted across the board," Mr Martin said.

Irish Independent

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