Friday 21 October 2016

'Knives out for me' says Averil Power as FF women go on the attack

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Senator Averil Power, who has quit the party
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Senator Averil Power, who has quit the party

FIANNA Fail’s remaining female members have turned on Averil Power in the aftermath of her shock resignation from the party.

The women of Fianna Fail have accused Ms Power of disrespecting her colleagues and the leader with damaging claims.

Leader Micheal Martin brought members together at a private parliamentary meeting to rally support in the aftermath of Ms Power stepping down and told them it was time to move on.

But the party was served another blow as long-time Fianna Fail stalwart Ken Curtain also quit the party over its handling of the marriage equality referendum.

READ MORE: Battle of the Bay as six TDs face 5-seat 'constituency of death'

Dublin City Councillor Catherine Ardagh told the Herald that Ms Power could have been more “civil” in her resignation.

“We had a great weekend – we had one step forward and Averil brought us two steps back,” she said.

And Cllr Ardagh lashed out at Ms Power’s claims that she was used to “cover up” the fact there weren’t more women in the party in an attack over the lack of resources for getting women involved.

READ MORE: 'Averil should have stayed put - she was the apple of Micheal's eye'

“It’s really disappointing. You would think she is the only woman in Fianna Fail but there is a lot of women in Fianna Fail,” Ms Ardagh added.

Ms Power’s constituency colleague in Dublin Bay North Deirdre Heney and Mayo County Councillor Lisa Chambers also launched scathing attacks on her.

“She was a hard worker and a valuable member of the party but I do think it was a little unfair how she decided to resign. I just wish she had taken a few days to allow the party to enjoy the victory in Carlow/Kilkenny (by-election),” Ms Heney said.

Former Education Minister Mary Hanafin refused to comment but supporters pointed out she had “guided, employed and mentored” Ms Power.

Former Tanaiste Mary Coughlan said: “I am no longer involved in public life so I have nothing to say whatsoever about Senator Power or Micheal Martin.”

Sean Haughey also waded into the controversy yesterday and praised Ms Power’s work ethic but criticised the manner in which she resigned.

He also revealed that he had not campaigned for a ‘Yes’ vote in last Friday’s referendum and refused to reveal which way he voted.

Fianna Fail claimed Ms Power quit the party because she was not permitted to run as a single candidate in her constituency, where Mr Haughey is also seeking to be selected to run in the general election.

In an interview with the Herald, Ms Power hit back saying her former colleagues “had their knives out” for their own political reasons.

“I think the nastiness of it is not only hurtful on a personal level (but) of course it’s going to put others off,” she said.

“People who I thought were friends seem to be out attacking me. I guess the way they see it is that my resignation looks bad for the party and maybe they think it will cost them support in their constituency.

“They’re rallying around the cause for that and putting the knives out for me with their own political interests. I think that’s sad,” she added.

Earlier in the day, she accused Fianna Fail’s Marriage Equality Referendum director of election Niall Collins of refusing to campaign door-to-door in his constituency for a ‘Yes’ vote. She also said he did not avail of personalised campaign leaflets she organised. Mr Collins denied both charges and branded Ms Power’s accusations as “farcical”.

Fianna Fail’s transport spokesman Timmy Dooley and Health spokesman Billy Kelleher also insisted they both canvassed their constituents ahead of the referendum

“We both did and many other members did as well. I think there was a greater level of activity of TDs for this campaign than there was heretofore,” Mr Dooley said.

On his arrival in Leinster House, Fianna Fail’s newly-elected TD Bobby Aylward said Ms Power’s resignation would not ruin his day.

At Fianna Fail’s parliamentary party meeting, Micheal Martin told the membership he stood over his claim that Ms Power quit because he would not let her run as the only candidate in her constituency for the general election.

“He said ‘what’s done is done and we can’t go back’, he highlighted our Carlow/Kilkenny victory and said this shows people want us to play a role and we should replicate that around the country,” a party source said.

By-election director of election Barry Cowen praised Ms Power’s contribution to referendum campaign at the meeting. He said it was disappointing Ms Power did not feel she could play her part in the party.

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