Friday 20 April 2018

McGuinness: FF rushed out policy ahead of Árd Fheis

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin speaks at the party's Ard Fheis 2015 in the RDS yesterday. Picture: Mark Condren
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin speaks at the party's Ard Fheis 2015 in the RDS yesterday. Picture: Mark Condren

Philip Ryan Political Correspondent

FIANNA Fáil's John McGuinness has rounded on his own party for rushing out policy to stave off criticism ahead of its Árd Fheis in Dublin today.

Mr McGuinness also blasted Fianna Fáil's senior officials who he believes hold too much power and fail to listen to grassroot members who want to see the party modernised.

The Public Accounts Committee chairman called for a more "inclusive" parliamentary party and condemned the current structures in which some TDs are "more equal than others".

"When you raise it in here (Leinster House) you become a dissenting voice or a lone voice - I'm not a lone voice. I know damn well I'm not a lone voice," Mr McGuinness told the Irish Independent.

The picture Mr McGuinness paints of a party in turmoil is very different from the one described by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who believes he has calmed dissent among his TDs.

Infighting over policy decisions and complaints about internal party structures are central to Fianna Fáil's current stagnation in the polls, according to Mr McGuinness.

Fianna Fáil has failed to build on its disastrous General Election result while in opposition and faced accusations of being a party without policy.

And now senior party figures have taken to complaining about the party's treatment in the media which they believe does not fairly portray their policy work.


"There has been criticism of us for not having policy and now we seem to have rushed our policies and put them out there," Mr McGuinness said.

He does not agree with the party's health policy, especially a proposal to give the health budget back to HSE officials, whom he regularly encounters as PAC chairman.

The Carlow/Kilkenny TD is in the final stages of preparing his own small business policy document but is reluctant to publish it until it is fully costed.

"Our policies were rejected in 2011 and we need to bear that in mind whenever we are framing polices and we need to put enterprise to the centre of everything do and be radical in our approach," he said.

Mr McGuinness believes the organisation needs to change how it develops policy and all levels of the party should feed into the decision making.

He said grassroot members and senior TDs are not being listened to by the upper echelons of the party.

"It's all centred in headquarters and it's centred on four people running the organisation. Essentially, three non-elected people dictating what goes on in the party - that's not acceptable," he said.

"Anyone that got elected in 2011 should be listened to. They came through the worst election ever and they have something offer and they are not being asked to offer anything."

Irish Independent

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