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Fianna Fáil turns on Micheál Martin over handling of pandemic as support for party plummets

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Government Buildings in Dublin, where he addressed the nation. Photo: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Government Buildings in Dublin, where he addressed the nation. Photo: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Government Buildings in Dublin, where he addressed the nation. Photo: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is facing growing anger within his own party over his handling of the pandemic.

After Fine Gael politicians hit out at the Taoiseach last night, Fianna Fáil TDs have now criticised Mr Martin as public support for their party continued to plummet.

There was widespread frustration among Fianna Fáil TDs when they gathered in the Convention Centre for Dáil votes, after the latest opinion poll showed they had dropped three points to 14pc.

The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll showed Fine Gael was down five points but still at 30pc, while Sinn Féin was down one to 28pc.

Fianna Fáil TDs believe they are feeling the brunt of the public’s increasing anger over the continued lockdowns imposed by the Government.

Speaking on The Floating Voter podcast, Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry accused Mr Martin of refusing to listen to his party members’ suggestions about Covid-19.

Mr MacSharry said if a Fianna Fáil backbencher came up with a “cure for cancer” it would not be taken seriously by the party leader.

He insisted Mr Martin should step down when his term as Taoiseach comes to an end and announced his support for Jim O’Callaghan in a leadership contest.

“I think 12 years of a leader is enough, it needs to be refreshed and that’s it. It’s not personal, it’s business. It’s good business to change it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kildare North TD James Lawless said the extension of the lockdown was “largely predictable” and he called on the Government to give people hope.

“We need to deliver more successes and less bad news. Get the vaccines out and put to bed any more rows about what cohort goes first,” he added.

A number of TDs and senators privately said they were disillusioned with the party and insisted change was needed sooner rather than later.

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“The mood in the party has plummeted and there’s not a lot left to lose in getting rid of Micheál,” one TD said.

“If there was a vote between Micheál and Jim in the morning, Jim would win.”

Another TD said it was “scary” how angry the public were towards Fianna Fáil.

“Anger is the new politics and we risk becoming hate figures,” the TD said.

A Fianna Fáíl senator said: “Micheál will step down after his time as Taoiseach and we will refresh then. Everyone knows that’s the time frame.

“We have to go for a younger leader. A woman would be an advantage but there is none with enough experience.

“It will probably be Jim O’Callaghan, who has made it obvious he is waiting in the wings.”

Junior minister Sean Fleming said he could not remember a new Government facing a more difficult first year in office.

“I can understand why the public mood has been reflected in the polls but we have to stick with the plan on Covid,” Mr Fleming said.

The Taoiseach’s spokesperson said Mr Martin took on board all criticism when making decisions. He added that the “only poll that matters is the one at election time”.

In the poll, Mr Martin’s personal satisfaction rating increased by three points to 42pc, but he was still 10 points behind Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who was on 52pc despite dropping 13 points. It also showed 39pc of the public think Mr Martin has done a good job during the pandemic.


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