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Thursday 30 November 2023 Dublin: 1°C
graphy: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland Averil Power
Shock Move

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

The Senator described Micheál Martin as “a leader without any followers” and said the party is “simply not fit for government”.

SENATOR AVERIL POWER has announced she is leaving Fianna Fáil.

She made the announcement this afternoon at Leinster House.

Power was elected to the Seanad in 2011, where she was the party’s spokesperson on education and skills.

She will serve out the remainder of her term as an independent Senator and said he has “no intention” of joining another political party.

The news will come as a blow to Fianna Fáil, who had received a boost over the weekend with Bobby Aylward winning the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election.

Power was one of the favourites to be chosen as Fianna Fáil’s general election candidate in Dublin Bay North, where she would have faced competition from former minister Seán Haughey, and councillors Deirdre Heney and Tom Brabazon.

She unsuccessfully contested the 2011 general election in the Dublin North–East constituency.

The senator has clashed with party leader Micheál Martin in the past over the lack of female representation in Fianna Fáil.

In her announcement, Power said the party ”lacks vision, courage and leadership”, describing Martin as “a leader without any followers”.

Power was extremely critical of the party, saying it “doesn’t know what it stands for and lacks credible policies on most major issues” and “is afraid of taking clear positions in key debates for fear of losing support”.

She said Martin’s frontbench “are all pulling in different directions and prioritising their personal political success over the needs of the party and the country”.

Power said the party is “simply not fit for government”.

The senator was particularly active in campaigning for a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum.

She said the Fianna Fáil’s approach to the referendum was cowardly and cynical, and symbolises “everything that is wrong with the party”.

Power told reporters:

I know I would have a strong chance of being elected for Fianna Fáil in the next election. But I have come to the conclusion that I don’t want to be a Fianna Fáil TD. I want to be true to myself and have the courage to walk away from the party.
I am therefore resigning from Fianna Fáil, effective immediately.
I am doing so with a heavy heart as I have many good friends in the party. I am also immensely grateful to everybody who has supported me over the last few years.
It was not an easy decision to make but I am convinced it is the right thing to do.
Having lost my faith in Fianna Fáil, I cannot in good conscience knock on doors in Dublin Bay North and ask people to vote for the party. In my view, they are simply not fit for government.

During her time in the Seanad, Power has co-sponsored a bill that proposes giving adoptees greater identity rights, such as access to their birth cert, and proposed a motion to recognise the State of Palestine.

Power has removed all references to Fianna Fáil from her Twitter bio, and her website is down. She is married to Irish Independent editor Fionnan Sheahan.

Fianna Fáil Castlebar councillor Lisa Chambers said the timing of Power’s announcement is “opportunistic and is clearly the start of her [general election] campaign”.

Chambers said Power’s decision to not tell other people in the party beforehand was “a poor way to treat your colleagues”.

However, she said she was “upset to see her go” as “she was a great advocate for women in the party”.

- with reporting from Hugh O’Connell

Originally published: 12pm

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