Friday 23 February 2018

McAleese's son criticises Fianna Fáil campaigning on gay marriage

Justin McAleese, son of former President Mary McAleese
Justin McAleese, son of former President Mary McAleese
Fianna Fail Party Leader Micheal Martin

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

The son of former President Mary McAleese has strongly criticised Fianna Fáil over its contribution to the Marriage Equality referendum.

And Justin McAleese also claimed that Senator Averil Power has been "treated abysmally" by the party.

Mr McAleese recalled Micheál Martin's Ard Fheis speech, which gave just 28 words to the issue of same-sex marriage. In contrast, Mr McAleese's own decision to write about his experiences as a gay man was seen as a major intervention in the campaign.

"A total of 28 words out of a 3,093-word speech were devoted to the referendum," Mr McAleese wrote on Facebook, adding that it was "consistent with the effort put in by the party's TDs during the campaign".

He added: "Averil Power is a politician with vision, courage and leadership. Averil was a wonderful ally to the Yes campaign and she has been treated abysmally by Fianna Fáil. Fair play, Averil".

It came as Mr Martin sought to rally party members yesterday as the controversy over Ms Power's shock resignation continued to overshadow Fianna Fáil's by-election success.

On his arrival in Leinster House, newly-elected Bobby Aylward, said Ms Power's resignation would not ruin his day.

But even as Mr Martin told members at a private parliamentary meeting that it was time to move on, the party was struck by a further blow.

Long-time Cork Fianna Fáil activist Ken Curtin also quit over the referendum.

Read more: 'Leo congratulated me while my FF party colleagues stayed silent' - Averil Power

And a bitter war of words saw Fianna Fáil's female members turning on Ms Power, accusing her of disrespecting colleagues.

Dublin City Councillor Catherine Ardagh told the Irish Independent Ms Power could have been more "civil" in her resignation.

"We had a great weekend - we had one step forward and Averil brought us two steps back," she said. "It's really disappointing. You would think she is the only woman in Fianna Fáil, but there are a lot of women in Fianna Fáil," she added.

Deirdre Heney, Ms Power's constituency colleague in Dublin Bay North, and Mayo County Councillor Lisa Chambers also launched scathing attacks.

However, Ms Power hit back, saying her former colleagues "had their knives out" for their own political reasons.

"I guess the way they see it is that my resignation looks bad for the party and maybe they think it will cost them support in their constituency," she told the Irish Independent.

She also accused Fianna Fáil's Marriage Equality Referendum director of election, Niall Collins, of refusing to campaign door-to-door in his constituency for a Yes vote. She also said he did not avail of personalised campaign leaflets she organised.

Mr Collins denied both charges and branded Ms Power accusations "farcical". Later in the day, the party's transport spokesman Timmy Dooley and health spokesman Billy Kelleher insisted they both canvassed their constituents ahead of the referendum.

Outspoken TD John McGuinness, who has criticised the leadership in the past, also weighed in behind Mr Martin and called for the party to move forward.

Irish Independent

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