herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

FF 'real risk of suffering SDLP's fate'

Eamon O'Cuiv
Eamon O'Cuiv

Fianna Fail is at risk of becoming "squeezed and sidelined" like the SDLP were in the North, angry frontbench TDs have warned.

The party has "stagnated" and has "a major identity problem", some of the party's leading deputies have conceded.

Two opinion polls at the weekend showed the party unchanged at 18pc, failing to capitalise on the Government's woes over Irish Water and the current difficulties engulfing Sinn Fein over the Maria Cahill controversy.

Speaking to the Herald last night, Galway West TD Eamon O Cuiv said he is "massively concerned" at the party's lack of progress.

"It is clear a large portion of our vote has gone to Sinn Fein, and we have not seen any progress. We are becalmed, and yes, I am massively concerned at the present situation," he said.

"If the current position was to be replicated come election time, the party is only going one place, back into opposition."

Mr O Cuiv said Fianna Fail is seeing its clothes stolen by Sinn Fein, which he said is inching itself into the centre ground.

"Yes, it is a fear that we would have happen to us what happened to the SDLP," he said.

Limerick TD Willie O'Dea echoed Mr O Cuiv's concern, saying the lack of poll progress is "massively disappointing".

"We have an identity problem and it is now a matter of some urgency," he told the Herald.

Mr O'Dea said the way to overcome these problems is through a clear set of policies, but he added that the looming election means the party does not have a lot of time to rectify the situation.

He said there is no desire for a leadership change at this point, adding: "We have enough problems at the moment."

The party's health spokesman, Billy Kelleher, also said the poll results were disappointing.

"We got 25pc at the local elections, but we would like to see the polls go the right way," he said.

vision

A party spokesperson said: "Detailed work is now under way to put in place a comprehensive manifesto setting out an alternative vision for the future of the country.

"Facilities are going to be put in place at constituency level to involve party members in this process, and members of the Parliamentary Party have been asked to bring forward new policy initiatives in each of their areas over the coming weeks and months."

hnews@herald.ie

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