herald

Tuesday 27 September 2016

John McGuinness facing further criticism from FF colleagues

POLITICS

John McGuinness
John McGuinness

FIANNA Fail TD John McGuinness is today expected to be challenged by colleagues over his strong criticism of the party ahead of last weekend's Ard Fheis in Dublin.

Mr McGuinness has been left isolated within the Fianna Fail parliamentary party after he claimed policies were rushed out in order to stave off criticism from the grassroots.

Party leader Micheal Martin rejected the allegations - despite the fact that policies in health, childcare, foreign affairs and housing were all published in the days leading up to the Ard Fheis.

Mr McGuinness also said he believes the party needs to change how it develops policy, and all levels of the party should feed into decision-making.

He said grassroots members and senior TDs are not being listened to by the upper echelons of the party, in a clear swipe at Mr Martin's closest aides.

Senior sources described Mr McGuinness' criticism while the Ard Fheis was taking place as "unhelpful" and "damaging".

The party's justice spokesperson, Niall Collins, and transport spokesperson, Timmy Dooley, attacked Mr McGuinness during an RTE radio interview with Claire Byrne on Saturday.

And the party's environment spokesperson, Barry Cowen, said he intends to confront Mr McGuinness at today's parliamentary party meeting.

"I have things to say to John and I'll say them at the parliamentary party meeting," Mr Cowen said.

Last week, in the wake of criticism from Eamon O Cuiv, Mr Martin called on his TDs to show discipline as the election campaign has effectively begun.

He said he has good relations with deputies O Cuiv and McGuinness and that they accept the focus must now turn to the General Election.

"I've said to all the party that, essentially, the election is on and we need unity of purpose and we need focus until the election. I think that's accepted across the board," he said.

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