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Fianna Fáil's Cowen seeks special party meeting following 'alarming' by-election result

Micheál Martin’s leadership of Fianna Fáil is under the microscope following its disastrous performance in Dublin Bay South.

Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen.
Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

FIANNA FÁIL TD Barry Cowen has called for a special meeting of the party following its “alarming” performance in the Dublin Bay South by-election.

Fianna Fáil’s candidate Deirdre Conroy secured less than 5% of the vote in Thursday’s election, prompting questions to be raised about Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s leadership of the party.

In an email to party colleagues, Cowen said the result is “both a shock and alarming but strangely not hugely surprising.”

The former Agriculture Minister called for a special in-person meeting to address the by-election and 2020 general election results.

“We are still awaiting the Fianna Fáil review of our dismal election of February 2020. I know it is considered better not to have an election post mortem too soon after the event but such a delay is simply inexplicable at this stage,” the Laois-Offaly TD said.

It is imperative that both that election and the latest bad result now comes under the microscope of the parliamentary party.

“I recognise by-elections offer opportunities for an electorate to send messages. It is good manners to respond to these messages. 

“Our parliamentary party, its leadership and executive personnel of the party should meet during the summer to reflect, discuss and take on board these messages,” Cowen added.

I believe the electorate deserve a focused, cohesive Fianna Fáil party that is fit for purpose to serve as a republican party of the 21st century.

The Taoiseach sacked Cowen as a Cabinet minister last summer following controversy over a drink-driving incident from four-years previous.

Last January Cowen told the Sunday Independent he does not believe that Martin will lead Fianna Fáil into the next general election.

In the aftermath of yesterday’s result, Fianna Fáil’s Director of Elections, and prominent leadership contender, Jim O’Callaghan also raised questions about Martin’s leadership.

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O’Callaghan was critical of the party’s policies on housing and when asked whether the Taoiseach should lead the party into the next general election if it takes place in 2024/25, he replied: “We’ll have to think about that.”

With reporting by Christina Finn

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Céimin Burke

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