Taoiseach Micheál Martin would certainly see it as such.
But the dynamics behind the push for the firebrand TD, who is an ardent critic of Martin, to return to the party reveals a narrative of far more political intrigue. For instance, it was none other than Barry Cowen, the former agriculture minister and current Midlands Machiavelli, who tabled the proposal for the Sligo-Leitrim TD to be readmitted.
Cowen is not shy in expressing his dissatisfaction with how he was treated by Martin in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding his drink-driving case.
Those still plotting to oust Martin believe there is a short period for a heave
His supporters would also point to the Taoiseach’s very different approach to Fianna Fáil landlord TD Robert Troy’s recent troubles. The point being, the motion to readmit MacSharry was put down by a senior party figure who would not be displeased if Martin decided to move on. However, as is needed, the motion was seconded by another member of the parliamentary party, in this case Senator Diarmuid Wilson.
At this juncture, it is worth noting Wilson launched a legal action against Fianna Fáil after he believed he was done out of the top job in the Seanad after the formation of the current Government.
It doesn’t end there. Wilson was not originally supposed to be the seconder for MacSharry’s readmittance. It was supposed to be recently appointed junior minister Dara Calleary. The Mayo TD, who lost his Cabinet gig due to the Golfgate controversy, could not make the party meeting due to Dáil business.
However, the optics of two short-lived agriculture ministers – who both naturally feel aggrieved with their leader – calling for the reappointment of a critic of the Taoiseach would have been quite something. Calleary has not been shy in his support of MacSharry returning. He said as much in a recent Sunday Independent interview, describing the TD as a “good mate”.
Around this time last year, MacSharry was gathering names of TDs to table a motion of no confidence in Martin.
He is believed to have secured eight of the 10 names needed to call for a vote on the Taoiseach’s leadership. He hoped Dublin Bay South’s Jim O’Callaghan would sign the motion but the barrister TD publicly distanced himself from a coup which led to a fallout with MacSharry.
This episode, along with frustrations over how Fianna Fáil handled Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney’s changing explanation for a Covid rule-breaching party in his department, resulted in MacSharry quitting the party last year.
In another significant move, the Sligo politician’s cousin, Dr Edel McSharry, was elected to Fianna Fáil’s internal ruling committee at last weekend’s party ard fheis. This was highlighted by Wilson during terse exchanges with Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, who objected to MacSharry’s reappointment at Wednesday night’s party meeting.
There are still TDs who would sign a motion seeking a vote on Martin’s leadership of Fianna Fáil, but whether there are enough to spark a heave is debatable.
Martin has a good hand ahead of the changeover of power, in that he can promote backbenchers.
Those still plotting to oust Martin believe there is a short period for a heave between the party’s upcoming Fianna Fáíl’s President Dinner on October 22 and the changeover on December 15.