Criticism levelled at Taoiseach at party meeting, with discussion described as ‘honest and tense’
The party meeting is expected to go on until very late this evening.
9th September 2021
CRITICISM HAS BEEN levelled at Taoiseach Micheál Martin at his parliamentary party this evening, with the discussion described as “honest and tense” at times.
The two-day party think-in got underway this afternoon at the Slieve Russell Hotel in Cavan today.
A long night of discussions is on the cards for politicians, with only nine speakers giving their contributions so far.
Charlie McConalogue, Barry Cowen, Marc MacSharry and Jim O’Callaghan have all spoken this evening.
The meeting has broken for dinner and is set to resume at 8pm.
One source said criticism has been targeted at the Taoiseach, but he has “taken it well” and not yet responded.
“Mixed views” have been expressed, said one minister, who said it was only right that there be a healthy amount of tension at such meetings.
Leaking from regular party meetings is giving a distorted view of the party, one TD said this afternoon, who welcomed that TDs were told to leave their phones at the top of the room at the beginning of the meeting.
This politician said it was a good idea, adding that such leaks were giving “loser vibes” from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meetings.
Questions over Martin’s ongoing leadership of the party were raised after the party’s poor Dublin Bay South by-election result in which Fianna Fáil secured just 4.6% of the vote.
There has also been a focus on whether he will take on the role as Tánaiste when the office of Taoiseach switches to Fine Gael under the coalition deal and whether he will lead his party into the next general election.
Earlier today, the Taoiseach told reporters that he will lead Fianna Fáil into the next election.
He said he will take up the role as Tánaiste in December 2022 under the Taoiseach rotation agreement in the programme for government.
A report – though over a year old – was also discussed by members today, in what some described as “long-winded contributions”.
Fianna Fáil had expected to make gains at the 2020 general election – and did manage to return more TDs than either Sinn Féin or Fine Gael – but ended up losing seven seats, dropping from 45 before the election to 38.
The report, 44 pages long, cites the lack of strategic oversight, and responding too slow to issues during the election as some of he key problems.
TD Cathal Crowe told The Journal that so far it has been a “very supportive meeting”. He said he wants work to be done on what the party stands for.
He agreed that those on the fringes who are critical of the Taoiseach are getting attention, but he said the majority of the middle ground in the party believe now is no time for a leadership change.
“I think for us to have internal splits about who should be leading ourselves, it smacks of tribalism. It’s rather self serving for the party. The reality is that the Taoiseach is doing a relatively good job, a pretty good job,” he said.
“I support them, I want them to continue on and there will be time down the road for it [a conversation around the leadership] could be next year, whenever that will happen, when we talk about what happens beyond the Taoiseach’s term at the helm of government and what happens and there is space for that kind of chat, but not now,” he said.
It is understood that common themes have emerged so far in the meeting which include criticisms of the disconnect between the parliamentary party and party HQ.