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Hanafin 'home truths' split Martin's 'anonymous team'

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Mary Hanafin

Mary Hanafin

Mary Hanafin's interview with the Irish Independent yesterday sparked the row.

Mary Hanafin's interview with the Irish Independent yesterday sparked the row.

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Mary Hanafin

Fianna Fail stalwart Willie O'Dea has conceded that the party needs "to up its game" following scathing criticisms by his former cabinet colleague, Mary Hanafin.

Ms Hanafin, a newly-elected councillor with ambitions of a Dail return, put the cat among the pigeons by claiming that not even she could name many of the party frontbench.

"If I can't name who they are, the public definitely can't," she said.

The former Education Minister also said too many of the 20 Fianna Fail TDs are pre-occupied with their own situation and not helping drive the party nationally.

And she warned that the party must not write off faces from its own past, as it seeks to regain political ground in the run-up to the next election.

Limerick TD Willie O'Dea conceded that Fianna Fail may "have taken the foot off the pedal" soon after big gains in local elections last May.

"But we're back at it again from this week - and we'll not let up from this on," Mr O'Dea said in response.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the party must use criticisms like these as motivation to do better.

"We have made progress but we have a lot of work to do on policy and other issues and we need a better work rate," Mr McGrath said.

Party health spokesman Billy Kelleher was less receptive to Ms Hanafin's comments. "We are still in recovery mode and making progress," he said.

"In May's local elections we emerged as the largest party in the local councils.

"Our 20 TDs are doing what they can to continue the work of listening and re-building."

Others showed little patience for Ms Hanafin's remarks, with one of them publicly responding: "I would be better known if I toured the media slating Fianna Fail".

Another TD called into question Hanafin's offer to help framing policy. "I accept that we must all do more. But I haven't heard from Mary Hanafin."

Ms Hanafin has been a thorn in the side of party hierarchy since running in the local elections against the will of party leader Micheal Martin - with whom she sat at the Cabinet table for nine years.

She ultimately won a council seat alongside Fianna Fail's preferred candidate Kate Feeney following the so-called "Battle of Blackrock".

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Ms Hanafin also bluntly warned that the public is "not ready" to put Fianna Fail back into Government just three years after the election drubbing where she lost her Dail seat.

"The next election won't see Fianna Fail getting back into power, absolutely not," she said.

"The public aren't ready for it and the party doesn't have enough candidates to do it."

However it is likely that Ms Hanafin will run for the Dail in the next general election. Fianna Fail's party think-in takes place in Roscommon next week.

Irish Independent