herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Fianna Fáil leader hits out at the leaking of party minutes as Hanafin row drags on

POLITICS

Micheal Martin
Micheal Martin

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin has been dragged into a bitter row over the leaking of minutes which record former minister Mary Hanafin launching a ferocious attack on the party's performance.

Mr Martin last night expressed disappointment that the minutes of the February meeting of the party's Dun Laoghaire branch made their way into the public domain.

The Herald revealed yesterday that Ms Hanafin is recorded as describing Fianna Fail as being in "stalemate", saying it "stands for nothing, has no vision and agrees with the Government on everything."

Citing Ms Hanafin, the minutes state, "FF - supposed to be main opposition Party. FF is currently at Stale Mate [sic]."

The documents adds, "Party stands for nothing, has no vision, and agrees with government on everything.

"Not opposing anything at the moment. SF capitalising on FF."

The ex-TD has claimed that her remarks were "distorted", taken completely out of context and she is accusing members of the Dun Laoghaire branch of trying to damage her ahead of the party's Ard Fheis and upcoming selection convention.

But the Herald can reveal that branch officers are standing over the minutes which they insist are accurate.

Branch chairman Morgan Shelley and secretary Vinny Duran Kearns have told colleagues that they took "contemporaneous notes" which fully support the minutes.

Neither individual wished to comment when contacted.

Party headquarters is now likely to become involved in the dispute as Ms Hanafin considers whether to formally challenge the accuracy of the account.

Speaking to the Herald last night, Mr Martin said he did not wish to drawn on the issue but did express concern about the leaking of the minutes.

"My only concern is that I don't think minutes and meetings like that should be verbally reiterated again," he said.

"There is a tradition within the party that if people want to say things at meetings they should be allowed to without any fear that it is going to end up elsewhere in two months time," he added.

The comments by Ms Hanafin and the disclosure of the minutes have heightened tensions within the branch ahead of the upcoming selection convention.

Ms Hanafin is being challenged for the nomination by sitting councillors Cormac Devlin, Kate Feeney and Jennifer Cuffe.

While party bosses believe Ms Hanafin has the best chance of securing a Dail seat, local sources say Mr Devlin and Ms Feeney cannot be ruled out ahead of convention.

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