Michael Martin addresses the media
August 04 2013 04:04 AMUP DATED BY FRED BASSETT
Fianna Fail TDs and senators have come together to take action about disaffection with the party leader, Micheal Martin, it has been learned.
The dissatisfaction has crystallised around a potential leadership challenge before the next General Election by finance spokesman Michael McGrath.
A number of Fianna Fail front-bench spokesmen last week told the Sunday Independent that they had serious misgivings about the continued leadership of Mr Martin into the election.
One TD said: “I am absolutely of the view that no member of the government that allowed the Troika in here should ever be in government again… Nobody from that last Fianna Fail government should ever be in government again.”
Another said: “People are unhappy at the way the leader has gathered a cohort of people around him . . . The problem is the party is being run by a small clique, which is very foolish of the leader.”
In contrast to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who recently showed authority to force through the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill with the loss of just seven Fine Gael TDs and senators, more than three-quarters of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party failed to support Mr Martin.
In Fianna Fail, just 13 of 19 TDs supported Mr Martin in favour of the bill, an outcome which gave rise to speculation that political calculation and not just conscience played a significant part in the decision.
Mr Martin, who has been leader since January 2011, is credited with rebuilding Fianna Fail support from a rock-bottom 17.45 per cent in the last election to 29 per cent in the most recent Sunday Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll in July.
In that poll, satisfaction with his leadership dropped further, with 56 per cent dissatisfied with him, compared with 47 per cent in early May.
A front-bench TD said last week: “The Anglo Tapes showed me our support is very soft, no matter what the opinion polls say. After the Anglo Tapes, we went down three or four per cent in the polls again – immediately.