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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Fianna Fail members 'left seething' as Averil Power walks in day of drama

Senator Averil Power who has resigned from the Fianna Fail party
Senator Averil Power who has resigned from the Fianna Fail party
Senator Averil Power who has resigned from the Fianna Fail party
(L to R) Fianna Fail Leader Micheal Martin TD, and Fianna Fail Senator Averil Power in 2012

FIANNA Fail members were left “seething” yesterday after Senator Averil Power dramatically quit the party over its failure to canvass for the marriage equality referendum.

A bitter war of words erupted following Ms Power’s shock resignation as she accused Micheal Martin of being a “leader without any followers” and branded the party’s approach to the referendum as “cowardly and cynical”.

Mr Martin hit back quickly, claiming she quit because he would not allow her to run as the party’s only candidate in her Dublin Bay North constituency.

READ MORE: Attack on Martin's leadership 'below the belt' say angry colleagues

He described her comments about his leadership as “disingenuous” and said he “went out on a limb” to get her elected to the Seanad in 2011.

This morning it emerged that Fianna Fail did not give one of it’s four passes to Senator Power for the declaration of the Marriage Referendum in Dublin Castle on Saturday evening.

Micheal Martin and Niall Collins went to the event, as did two of the party’s back room staff.

Senator Power, who was highly active in the ‘Yes’ campaign, eventually got a pass from the party’s press office which allowed her to attend Dublin Castle later in the day.

READ MORE: 'Fianna Fail is not fit for Government' - Senator Averil Power quits party with 'heavy heart'  

The name Doreen appeared on the pass. The badge did not give her access to the “inner sanctum”.

Ms Power’s shock announcement brought a sudden end to celebrations of Fianna Fail’s first by-election win in almost 20 years.

The party’s referendum campaign director Niall Collins said he “utterly rejected Ms Power’s unsubstantiated criticisms of the party and its leadership”.

“I’m very disappointed by her actions and comments,” he said. “Yes, it’s true that some Fianna Fail representatives did not campaign in the referendum.

READ MORE: Power quits with blast at Martin

Last night, Ms Power dismissed the suggestion that she quit over constituency politics and insisted Mr Martin’s “nasty attack” only confirmed she had made the right decision.

“It’s extraordinary – when they want to be united they can,” she told the Herald.

“When you want them to be decisive and make decisions that are important they struggle, but when they decide they want to attack somebody or be vindictive they marshal the troops pretty quickly.”

She accused Mr Martin of refusing to drop a “single leaflet” supporting same-sex marriage in his Cork constituency or attend local meetings on the issue.

She also claimed none of the party’s TDs and senators availed of personalised leaflets supporting a ‘Yes’ vote which she organised for the campaign.

Mr Martin’s spokesman said he did not want to comment on these accusations.

Ms Power also said party members laughed at her when she suggested they wear badges supporting same-sex marriage when they were campaigning for Bobby Aylward in the Carlow Kilkenny by-election.

Mr Martin denied this during a radio interview.

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