Sunday 17 December 2017

Fianna Fail at war over new poll standing

Eamon O Cuiv. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Eamon O Cuiv. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

A MAJOR split is developing in Fianna Fail over the party’s failure to increase its level of support since it went into meltdown.

Senior party members are on a collision course after another week of bad poll results showing Fianna Fail made little ground since its disastrous performance at the 2011 general election.

Questions are now hanging over Micheal Martin’s leadership with a month to go before the party’s Ard Fheis in Dublin.

In the wake of the dismal poll results, Fianna Fail stalwart Eamon O’Cuiv attacked the leadership, saying the party was facing “demise” due to an “absolute collapse in self-belief”.

Mr O’Cuiv, whose grandfather Eamon de Valera was a founding member of the party, said Fianna Fail risks becoming a “niche party like the SDLP” if it does not change strategy soon.

The party’s transport spokesman Timmy Dooley hit back, calling on members to concentrate on promoting policy rather than criticising.

“When senior members of the party start talking down their own work it has a negative effect on the rank and file members,” he said.

“I don’t think anybody should be surprised we are not making advances in the poll when a number of us continue to raise negative questions.

“When they are musing aloud where the party is at, they are really musing about their own lack of progress.”

Mr Dooley and Mr O Cuiv will go before the party’s grassroots next month in a bid to remain Fianna Fail vice-presidents.

They are among 11 candidates for five positions.

Former Education Minister Mary Hanafin, who undermined Mr Martin by running in the recent local elections, is also in the running for one of the five positions.

A Sunday Business Post/Red C poll had the party unchanged at 18pc, only one point above what they polled in the 2011 general election.

Senior party figures insist they also polled poorly ahead of last year’s local elections and ended up with a higher result when the ballots were counted.

The older demographic of Fianna Fail voters will be significant when the country next goes to the polls and will give them an advantage over Sinn Fein.

However, the party is currently lagging behind Gerry Adams’ party despite months of controversy over Sinn Fein’s handling of sex abuse allegations.

Last week, some Fianna Fail members said Mr Martin’s leadership could be in doubt if the party does not win the Carlow Kilkenny by-election.

The Fianna Fail candidate for the by-election, Bobby Aylward, stands a good chance but will face tough competition from Fine Gael’s David Fitzgerald and Sinn Fein’s Kathleen Funchion.

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