Tuesday 24 April 2018

Leaked minutes spark fresh FF row as lively 'Battle of Blackrock' heats up

Mary Hanafin is pictured with party leader Micheál Martin at the annual Fianna Fáil Easter Rising 1916 Commemoration at Arbour Hill in Dublin on Sunday
Mary Hanafin is pictured with party leader Micheál Martin at the annual Fianna Fáil Easter Rising 1916 Commemoration at Arbour Hill in Dublin on Sunday
Kate Feeney
Jennifer Cuff
From left: Senator Thomas Byrne, Councillor Jack Chambers (candidate for Dublin West), Billy Kelleher and Colm Keaveney at the College of Physicians, Kildare Street
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Former Minister Mary Hanafin has reacted angrily after minutes from her local Fianna Fáil branch meeting record her as launching a ferocious attack on the party's performance.

Ms Hanafin is recorded as describing Fianna Fáil as being in "stalemate", saying the party is one which "stands for nothing, has no vision and agrees with the Government on everything".

The minutes of the February meeting of the Fianna Fáil Dun Laoghaire branch were circulated at a meeting of the party on Monday and have been obtained by the Irish Independent.

Ms Hanafin is recorded as accusing Fianna Fáil of under-performing as the lead Opposition party and stating that Sinn Fein is capitalising on the party's weaknesses.

Citing Ms Hanafin, the minutes state:

"FF - supposed to be main opposition Party. FF is currently at Stale Mate.

"Party stands for nothing, has no vision, and agrees with government on everything.

"Not opposing anything at the moment. SF capitalising on FF."

Read more: Mary Hanafin: 'Fianna Fáil stands for nothing'

Ms Hanafin last night confirmed that she was critical of the party's performance at the meeting held in February, but said the minutes represent a "distortion of her views".

"This is an intentional oversimplification and is selective of a much longer and broader contribution," she told the Irish Independent.

Ms Hanafin said she was making the remarks following an address to the meeting by Fianna Fáil senator Labhras O Murchu.

She said she was trying to illustrate that Mr O Murchu is consistently elected to the Seanad "because people know what he stands for".

"I was making the point at the meeting that we need to show the public exactly what we do stand for," Ms Hanafin added.

The meeting in Dun Laoghaire was attended by councillors Cormac Devlin and Kate Feeney, who are also contesting the upcoming selection convention for the General Election.

Cllr Jennifer Cuffe also declared herself as a candidate yesterday, in a move that has taken some within the party by surprise.

Ms Hanafin has criticised the performance of the party before, insisting that Fianna Fáil is destined for the opposition benches for a second consecutive term.

Privately, many senior party sources agree with Ms Hanafin's assessment - however, publicly Mr Martin has said he is preparing to become the next Taoiseach.

Read more: Free GP care will not be given to children over six under Fianna Fáil plans

Nonetheless, the language cited in the minutes is likely to damage Ms Hanafin's chances at the convention.

The event will be one of the most closely watched to be held by any political party.

This is due to the rivalry between Ms Hanafin and Ms Feeney, which dates back to the local election campaign.

Ms Feeney reacted furiously after the former TD emerged as a Fianna Fáil candidate after being approached by party headquarters.

In recent months, a rivalry has also developed between Ms Hanafin's supporters and Mr Devlin.

The tensions between the different camps within the party have led to the convention being dubbed 'The Battle of Blackrock'.

Speaking last night, Ms Cuffe said she has "no intention" of becoming involved in "any of the controversies".

She added: "I'm not interested in rivalries. I want to secure the nomination and continue to help rebuild Fianna Fáil in Dublin."

Senior Fianna Fail officials today sought to make little of the latest row involving Ms Hanafin.

Party general secretary, Sean Dorgan, said he was not aware of it - and he insisted that he was not informed of every detail of party branch proceedings.

Party national secretary, Dara Calleary, also dismissed the reported controversy and said he had no comment to make on the matter.

Mr Calleary said the party would be proceeding in a united fashion under the leadership of Micheal Martin and he was concentrating on preparing for their Ard Fheis at the RDS in Dublin which opens on Friday.

Irish Independent

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