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Averil Power said A LOT of harsh things about Fianna Fáil today

The independent senator launched a scathing attack on her now-former party today.

File Photo Averil Power Resigns from Fianna Fail. Avery Power had lots to say about Fianna Fáil and its leader today Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

AVERIL POWER QUIT Fianna Fáil with a bang today, launching an extraordinary attack on the party, its direction, its leadership and its campaign in the marriage referendum.

A visibly emotional Power shocked Fianna Fáil members with her announcement on the Leinster House plinth. Though her unhappiness with the party, particularly in relation to its referendum campaign, was known there were no indications she was about to resign.

She made the decision some weeks ago – and was waiting for the referendum to conclude – but confirmed she had not spoken Micheál Martin, whom she described as “a leader without any followers.

Indeed, we understand Power didn’t even consult with her own staff about the decision.

Senator Averil Power has resigned from Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

“It’s been a very difficult personal decision. I suppose I’m an optimistic person so for a long time I wanted to believe that I could help to change the part from within,” Power said today.

I also knew there were many members relying on me to do that but I just don’t believe that’s possible any more and I can’t in good faith go on the media and argue for a party I don’t believe in, stand on doorsteps and ask them to put their confidence in a party that I don’t believe in.

Here’s what else she had to say about her now-former party earlier today:

1. The referendum was the final straw

Gay Marriage Equality Referendums Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Power said she had been “really unhappy for quite sometime” but the referendum was the final straw. It became clear in recent weeks that Fianna Fáil was divided over the issue and she was one of the few members who actively campaigned for a Yes vote.

Others kept quiet and worried what impact it would have on their vote at the next election. Power described this as a ”cowardly and cynical approach”.

For me, marriage equality goes to the core of what republicanism is about. We should have been the lead party in that campaign and instead most of my parliamentary colleagues hid on it and refused to campaign.

2. Fianna Fáil is “not fit for office” 

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What does Fianna Fáil stand for? It’s a criticism that’s been levelled at the party for sometime now and Power made the same charge today, saying it is “constantly pulling in ten different directions”. She said that many members all over the country feel the same way.

They can’t decide what they stand for and as we get closer to an election, I can’t ask people to vote for a party that I simply don’t believe is fit for office.

3. Her colleagues were selfish 

Power said various members of the frontbench put their own success ahead of the party’s in recent months.

I just don’t think we are a cohesive party any more. A party is a group of people who have a collective vision and I just don’t think Fianna Fáil can be described as that any more.

4. Her own party laughed at her 

Power recalled one meeting of the parliamentary party where she suggested that people campaigning in the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election should wear Yes badges and carry leaflets.

I was laughed at for making that suggestion. Colleagues seemed to think it was crazy that I would go out on an issue that nationally we say we stand for but locally we were running scared from.

Martin later described Power’s claim that she was laughed at as “a gross distortion”.

5. This wasn’t about political expediency 

Power insisted that ending her 15-year association with Fianna Fáil was not for the purposes of political advancement and the anticipated battle in Dublin Bay North to be the party’s Dáil nominee. Though she faced stiff competition for nomination she was confident she would be in the running:

I never had any fear that I wouldn’t be a candidate for the party. I always felt that I would win the convention but in any event if I didn’t it was made very clear to me that i would be added to the ticket. I also never had any fear of running as a Fianna Fáil candidate if I believed in the party.

6. Micheál Martin means well but he’s “ineffective”

Publicly at least, Power has enjoyed a good relationship with her party leader who has put her front-and-centre of many of its initiatives on greater female participation in politics. But the senator thinks he’s just not good enough:

I like him on a personal level, but I just don’t think he’s an effective leader.

File Photo Averil Power Resigns from Fianna Fail. Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

7. But it’s not just Micheál

If I thought the only problem was Micheál Martin I’d stick it out but I don’t believe that’s the case. I think the party as a whole lack courage, commitment, and conviction. I don’t think that’s going to change regardless of who the leader is.

8. She thinks the party is incapable change 

Power describes herself as an optimistic person but she does not believe Fianna Fáil is capable of changing. Asked about the future of the party, she said:

I don’t know. I suppose that’s no longer my business.”

9. She might not stay in politics

Power said she has no intention of joining another party, has not been approached by any party and intends to remain independent for the remaining Seanad term.

She gave no indication as to whether she will run for the Dáil at the next election and pointed out she had other options.

I don’t know what the future holds, I know I have other options. I’ve a business degree from Trinity I have a legal diploma from the King’s Inns.

Earlier: Averil Power launches scathing attack on Fianna Fáil as she quits party

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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