Crowley fires a fierce parting shot at FF leader as he storms out of race for the presidency
FIANNA Fail has been plunged into new turmoil after MEP Brian Crowley slammed his party leader, Micheal Martin, over the presidential election.
Munster-based Crowley yesterday dramatically withdrew from the presidential election, criticising the party for being "divided on its electoral approach".
His exit effectively leaves just four candidates in the running with two months to go to the poll: Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell, Labour's Michael D Higgins and independents Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher.
In a blunt statement, he blamed the party leadership for not supporting his desire to run for the Aras.
"As widely reported in the media over recent weeks the Fianna Fail leadership has demonstrated that it does not want an internal party candidate to contest the upcoming presidential election.
"There have also been many public statements by some parliamentary party members supporting that view of not running a FF candidate.
"It is very important to me that the status and dignity of the presidential office not be diminished in any way, and for that reason, I will not be a candidate for a party that continues to be divided on its electoral approach."
And the parting shot unleashed by Mr Crowley will further add to the woes of Micheal Martin.
There has been growing unrest among Fianna Fail members over their leader's inability to unite the party following February's election carnage.
And that division seeped into the issue of whether to run a presidential candidate, with TDs and senators openly disagreeing with each over the past few weeks as to what approach the party should take.
Frontbench heavyweights Niall Collins and Willie O'Dea were adamantly in support of persuading broadcaster Gay Byrne to run in the election.
However, this caused rifts with Crowley's supporters, which included the party's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath and chairman John Browne.
Mr Browne said today that he still believes the party should select an internal candidate.
"My views have always been well known. I always said I believe we should put forward our own candidate. I will be making my views known at the Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting next week."
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