Thursday 22 March 2018

Row within Fianna Fáil over partners

John McGuinness
John McGuinness

Daniel McConnell and Niall O'Connor

A furious row erupted between two senior Fianna Fáil TDs at a behind-closed-doors meeting over the prospect of entering coalition with Fine Gael.

A proposal supported by the party's environment spokesperson Barry Cowen to rule out a Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael coalition was branded "f***ing bulls**t" by Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness.

"That will make liars of you and us all, the people will decide who goes into Government," Mr McGuinness told his colleagues, during heated exchanges at the party's meeting of front bench spokespeople yesterday.

The Irish Independent has confirmed that Mr Cowen was one of a number of TDs who proposed that the parliamentary party should submit a motion ahead of the upcoming Ard Fheis calling on members to sign a pledge not to enter Government with Fine Gael.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has consistently ruled out leading his party into a coalition with either Fine Gael or Sinn Féin.

But the proposal drew a heated response from TDs, including Mr McGuinness, who previously admitted he wants to succeed Mr Martin as leader.

"At that stage, John said this is f***ing bulls**t, that there is an election to be fought before any decisions like that can be decided upon," said one source present at the meeting.

It was ultimately clarified that the parliamentary party cannot propose motions for the Ard Fheis and instead TDs should make the proposal through their local organisations.

Mr McGuinness also used yesterday's meeting to criticise the party's stance on the potential sale of the State's Aer Lingus shareholding.

At the meeting, Mr McGuinness said the Government should not be ruling out selling the stake to IAG - in what was a clear dig at the transport spokesperson, Timmy Dooley.

John Drennan's Guide to Politics - Spring 2015

The next election will change your life. In a special supplement with the Sunday Independent, John Drennan presents his guide to Irish politics.

Irish Independent

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