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Fianna Fáil at war as Micheál Martin confronted over poor poll ratings

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Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is under renewed pressure from his own frontbench members over the party's stagnation in opinion polls.

Two separate polls published last weekend showed the party at below 20pc and several members spoke angrily last night to the Irish Independent of the "malaise and sense of drift" which has engulfed the party.

One senior TD branded the situation as "a real pain".

"It is really frustrating. We want to break the 20pc, and if we can do that then happy days. But it is deeply demoralising to our teams who are working really hard," the TD said.

It has also emerged that at a recent private meeting of the party's Dáil frontbench, Mr Martin was confronted by some TDs, including Longford-Westmeath TD Robert Troy, over the lack of direction of the party.

"Robert had a right cut off the leader, I never saw him that direct. He said he needs to make sure not to waste the Ard Fheis by making it a stage-managed affair. That he as leader needs to put his stamp on things," said one TD.

Confirming the row, Mr Troy told the Irish Independent: "Yes, I spoke directly to the leader and made my views, about the need to maximise on the Ard Fheis, known." Mr Troy said the party's current poll ratings are "disappointing, to be sure".

Party whip Sean O'Fearghail said: "The poll results are disappointing. We are disappointed. We are working hard and developing policy papers. But we are disappointed they are not far better."

"It is depressing alright. Talking to people on the ground, it is bloody demoralising, to the guys we need to canvass for us," said another.

There was stinging criticism of the leadership for allowing the party to be squeezed by Fine Gael on one side and Sinn Féin and the hard-left independents on the other. But last night, senior TDs were turning on each other for failing to pull their weight on behalf of the party.

"It is a fact of life that some people are working demonstrably harder than others and also the leader resorts to calling on people to put their shoulders to the wheel. Some react more positively to that than others," Mr O'Fearghail said.

Michael McGrath, the finance spokesman, called on his colleagues at a recent private frontbench meeting to contribute more in terms of media appearances and policy formation.

"We need to hold our nerve. I made this point at the last frontbench meeting, if we all did a little bit more, if everyone can make that extra effort in terms of policy and media work, there is an extra few per cent to be gotten for sure," he told the Irish Independent.

Kilkenny TD and PAC chairman John McGuinness said: "Sure, it is disappointing we are not making headway when Sinn Féin is going through such turmoil and Labour are in difficulty. We have to focus on the internal issues of policy and putting out a platform, to try and attract people back."

"Morale in the party is probably low as a result," he added.

Limerick TD Willie O'Dea said: "It is certainly disappointing, obviously, that we are not moving in the polls. I hope when we publish detailed policies people will engage. It is very disappointing. I want to see them moving the right way."

Laois Offaly TD Sean Fleming said: "We have a big challenge ahead of us. The poll results are very difficult for us no doubt, and we have a lot of work to do to get us back to where we want to be."

While there is level of unhappiness about Mr Martin, (pictured left) there was a sense last night that no one is willing to take on the task of running the party this side of a general election.

"I don't see any obvious person who could do any more or any better," Mr O'Dea said.

Irish Independent