Varadkar running rings around you, Martin is warned
Fianna Fáil TD’s outburst at the Taoiseach
Joint effort: Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar at a Government briefing this week. Photo: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire
September 11 2020 02:30 AM
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has been told to stop doing press conferences with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar – because the Fine Gael leader is “running rings around him”.
During a robust Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting, Mr Martin came under fire for his failure to include his TDs and senators in the Government’s decision-making process.
Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry said the relationship between the Taoiseach and his elected members was one of a “teacher and pupil”.
Mr MacSharry said Fianna Fáil had “no leadership and not even management” at present.
He said it was a “teacher-pupil relationship” where the parliamentary party are expected to be “empty vessels eager to learn from the master”.
Mr MacSharry said the Taoiseach should stop doing joint press conferences with Mr Varadkar. “He’s running rings around you,” he said.
He also said the regular briefings on Covid-19 figures should end because they are “scaring the bejaysus” out of the public.
He said ministers should take the lead on informing the public on the latest guidelines.
Mr MacSharry was also critical how Fianna Fáil had treated long-serving party staff after Mr Martin was elected as Taoiseach.
John McGuinness, the Carlow-Kilkenny TD, made the point that the party chairmanship – held for years by Brendan Smith TD – should be made a democratic post elected by the entire parliamentary party, rather than appointed by the leadership.
He put down a motion to this effect, that will go forward to next week’s meeting. Mr McGuinness said it was not a personal commentary on Mr Smith in any way.
He told the Taoiseach he would be consulting with colleagues in the interim, and complained that there was little consultation with backbenchers by the leadership itself.
Mr McGuinness won remarks in support of his view from Marc MacSharry, Barry Andrews MEP, Malcolm Byrne and Bill Kelleher MEP.
The latter called for an independent post-mortem into the 2020 election result, saying he had written to the Taoiseach making such a call.
Mr MacSharry said TDs should be involved in the election review, rather than outsourcing .
The meeting noted that there was an internal review of the result in 2011, but neither the results nor the report ever emanated.
The issue of the deputy leader was also mentioned, as whether this post might also be filled by election within the parliamentary party.
However Mr Martin indicated this was not going to happen on his watch.
He is expected to announce a new deputy leader in the coming fortnight to replace former agriculture minister Dara Calleary who resigned after Golfgate in Galway last month.
Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is seen as the favourite to succeed.