Former FF National Executive member, Senator Sharon Keogan, joins criticism of Taoiseach Micheál Martin
A Senator and former member of the Fianna Fáil National Executive has joined the Slane cumann’s criticisms of party leader Micheál Martin.
Sharon Keogan, now an Independent , said the “top-down” style of party management has coincided with his time at the helm.
“At a crisis like this, you need someone who inspires and is a very effective communicator, and the Taoiseach doesn’t have it. I really hate to say that, and I am not being vindictive,” she said.
She said the current ‘awful’ state of the party is a shame and a source of sorrow for those, like her family, steeped in its history.
“It is not united, and is cannibalising itself from within.”
Ms Keogan, is also a former member of Meath Fianna Fáil organisation where the latest leadership ranklings emerged.
She left the party when she could not get a nomination to contest the general election in 2011.
“Micheál Martin is a very decent human being, but there are different skills needed as leader of the country. People felt safe with Leo and Simon Harris at the start of things last year. I don’t think people feel safe any more. The public is really feeling it this time around.”
Meanwhile a minister is to be despatched to discuss their grievances with Slane Fianna Fáil, after the Irish Independent revealed its open-letter to TDs and Senators calling for the replacement of the leader.
Sean Fleming TD will meet the entire officer board of the Fianna Fáil cumann in Slane, Co Meath.
The junior minister in the Department of Finance, contacted party members in Slane on Tuesday morning.
“I thanked them for their views and said we should have a meeting,” Mr Fleming said.
The Laois-Offaly TD is carrying out a major review of the party’s poor election performance over a year ago and is due to finalise his report in the coming weeks.
“There is a lot of work going on, it’s not just something that anyone could write in a week. There is a lot of research going into this one, both internal and external.”
He said it would not examine the decision by the party’s membership to vote to enter Government last summer, but would focus solely on the election performance where Fianna Fáil returned 38 TDs, a loss of six on its 2016 performance.
Meanwhile a spokeswoman for Fianna Fáil said: “We are not commenting at this time on an internal party communication.” The press office was one arm of the party attacked in the letter .
That email said the party had become a “laughing stock” on occasion.
We need someone with fire in his/her belly, someone that will reignite our pride in our once great party,” it said.
“You have ignored us for the past seven years.”
TDs and Senators were told: “We had a belief in a party that once was great, a party like a family unit; honest, caring and hardworking, and always at the back of the ordinary decent common man.
“We are disillusioned and abandoned. This is our last effort to try to regain our Fianna Fáil identity.
“In despair, we have decided to put our thoughts and feelings on paper and to send this letter individually to each TD and to some Senators.”
Thomas Byrne, the sole FF TD in the two Meath constituencies, has said he does not agree with the call for a change of leader.
Senator Keogan, whose uncle and aunt were both long-time Fianna Fáil councillors, said it seemed talent was being “pushed aside in the party,” with Social Democrats and Labour Party personnel shining in the Dáil and Senate.
“You have to make sure you look after your councillors on the ground. But there’s a sense you’re not in with a shot if you are not from a Fianna Fáil dynasty.”
The matter may come up at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting, although prominent leadership critic Marc MacSharry said: “Many members are articulating the same views.
“Right now Covid is the priority but action is required soon if as a party we are serious about reversing the trend and consistency of low poll performances. People know what needs to happen.”