Sunday 15 December 2019

Martin 'is in peril' if Fianna Fail can't win seat in capital

Mr Martin has denied his leadership is under question
Mr Martin has denied his leadership is under question

Daniel McConnell

THE position of Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin will be in peril if the party's Dublin MEP candidate Mary Fitzpatrick fails to win a seat, four frontbench members of the party have said.

Mr Martin has denied his leadership is under question despite poor poll ratings in Dublin and a barrage of criticism from former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and ministerial colleague Mary Hanafin.

But in the wake of John McGuinness's comments that he wants to be the next leader, four of Mr Martin's most senior TDs have said his position will be under threat should Ms Fitzpatrick fail to win a seat.

Three other members of the frontbench have said Mr Martin could be reprieved should the party win one of the two anticipated by-elections on 'Super Friday', May 23.

Mr Martin's spokesman said he would not comment on "off the record briefings", but the declarations by so many of his TDs reflects just how isolated he is from some senior colleagues.

One TD said: "The clique thing is a real problem. Many of us have no input and many decisions are taken without consultation."

There was annoyance at the decision to hold the party's recent ard fheis in Killarney and not Dublin, where the party has no TDs and is at just 9pc.

While Mr McGuinness's comments were seen as significant, the feeling is that he is a stalking horse for another to challenge to lead the party.

Four TDs are seen as viable contenders for a leadership challenge: Finance spokesman Michael McGrath, Health spokesman Billy Kelleher, Jobs spokesman Dara Calleary and Justice spokesman Niall Collins.

Some party members last night said that even if the party performed "reasonably well" in next month's election, that as long as Mr Martin remains leader, there is a ceiling to the level of support it can attract.

Said one TD: "What we are getting on the doorsteps is that people are refusing to consider voting for us as long as we are being led by the old guard. We would be very unwise to take too much comfort from a respectable performance in the locals and Europeans. The general is a totally different beast."

Those close to Mr Martin are frustrated with questions over his position: "Topping the poll in one constituency, likely to take a seat in another and in the fight in Dublin. Where is the crisis?" one party figure asked.

Irish Independent

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