The group, based in Slane, Co Meath, says the party needs someone capable of dealing with ‘our devious Government partners’
A Fianna Fáil cumann in a minister’s constituency is calling for the replacement of leader Micheál Martin.
In a letter seen by Independent.ie, his departure is demanded by the entire officer board of the party cumann in Slane, Co Meath.
Mr Martin, who took over the party a decade ago, is said to have presided over its becoming a “laughing stock” on occasion.
“We need someone with fire in his/her belly,” said the signatories in an open letter-email to all Fianna Fáil TDs and some of the party’s senators.
This needed to be “someone to lead the way forward, someone who is capable of dealing with our devious Government partners, and someone that will do what is right for our country,” the officers told the parliamentary party.
The successful candidate must be “someone that will reignite our pride in our once great party,” said the chairman, secretary, treasurer, PRO and others in the Meath organisation.
“You ignore us at your peril,” the ‘Save Our Party’ communication said.
It was sent from the email address of public relations officer Breda Roche.
“You have ignored us for the past seven years,” TDs and senators are told: “Micheál Martin is an honest hardworking person.
"We admire him for his achievements over the last number of years, but now we need someone with fire in his/her belly.
“We had a belief in a party that once was great, a party like a family unit; honest, caring and hardworking, and always at the back of the ordinary decent common man.”
But the email said: “We are disillusioned and abandoned. This is our last effort to try to regain our Fianna Fáil identity.
“In despair, we have decided to put our thoughts and feelings on paper and to send this letter individually to each TD and to some senators.”
Thomas Byrne, the Meath East TD and junior minister, said he had been informed in recent days that the party members, all of whom he knows, intended to send the letter.
“They told me. I do not agree with the call for a change of leader. The party members told me what they were going to do, and of course they are free to do that. It is very important, in fact, that the members have a say in the party and that they can address their concerns to others.”
On the leadership issue, Mr Byrne said: “I don’t agree with that at all.”
The circular said: “The rot set in in 2016 when Fianna Fáil entered into the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
"If this agreement was truly for the good of our country then Fianna Fáil should have pulled the plug on the National Children's Hospital debacle, and if not then, surely on the broadband issue.
“We know the last issue has been dealt with, but at what cost? We expressed these sentiments forcefully at meetings but we were totally ignored.
“Perhaps someone somewhere will read this and heed us.”
Six officers and members said they were alarmed at the Taoiseach's stance on Sinn Féin during the run-up to the election last year.
“No matter how we feel about Sinn Féin, (and) most of us are opposed to entering Government with them, nevertheless, a more tempered approach would have served us far better.
“This ill-advised and short-sighted stance lost us transfers in several constituencies and as a result we lost six to seven seats.”
In other criticisms, the Slane branch said: “Our media presence is either non-existent or abysmal. Do we even have a functioning press office?
“Fine Gael and the media, print or otherwise, are dictating policies and terms. We are last out of the box. Any good news our partners announce with glee, while Fianna Fáil give the bad news.
“On occasions we have made a laughing stock of ourselves and have been held up to ridicule. Two excellent ministers were dismissed to appease our Government partners and the media. We have to seem to appear to be politically correct at all times.
“Fine Gael supports their members through thick and thin, even as one is currently being investigated by the [gardaí] at this present time, for an alleged criminal act. Nobody in Fine Gael is baying for blood.”
The letter said the party’s TDs and senators were not blameless either.
"There is no united front. Our organisation is in total disarray. Covid-19 cannot be the scapegoat here. This sorry state of affairs existed before the pandemic began.”
The letter told the party recipients they all have a responsibility to the people who elected them.
"We have always worked hard to get you elected and it’s now time you all stepped up to the plate,” TDs and senators were told.
“We want someone to listen to us, to take our issues on board and to respond to them in a manner that gives us the respect and dignity that we have earned over decades.”
The six say they were recently requested to complete an online survey to review the results of the 2020 General Election.
“This is the first communication that we have received in the past year from Fianna Fáil HQ, or from any TD, other than requests (a) to renew our membership and (b) to sell or buy tickets.”
Some completed the online survey.
“We did not feel that the survey allowed us sufficient scope to express our true feelings,” they said.
“We tried calling HQ as advised in the letter, but after three days of continuously calling, getting no reply, we eventually gave up.
“This depicts the sorry state of affairs in our party at this present time.”