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'We just don't seem to be going anywhere': Ó Cuív worried by FF's 'becalmed' poll status

The veteran Fianna Fáil deputy has denied that his concern about the party’s stagnation in the polls is a criticism of the leadership, but said some members may not share his level of ambition.

Éamon Ó Cuív
Éamon Ó Cuív
Image: Photocall Ireland

FIANNA FÁIL TD ÉAMON Ó Cuív has expressed concern about what he has described as Fianna Fáil’s “becalmed” status in the opinion polls, but has denied it is an explicit criticism of the party leader Micheál Martin.

“It’s nothing to do with Micheál Martin per se, this can’t be reduced to one person,” he told TheJournal.ie this morning, saying the party’s 20,000 members “can all up our performance”.

The Galway West deputy said that some people in the party may lack the ambition he has for it, but declined to say who specifically he is referring to.

“I think some people’s expectations of what is possible wouldn’t be as ambitious as mine,” he said, adding: “I don’t differentiate [between grassroots and the leadership] in the way that the media seem to do. We are one totality.”

Ó Cuív tweeted last night after the latest Ipsos MRBI poll for the Irish Times showed Fianna Fáil at 22 per cent, which he described as “becalmed”:

image

Asked why he thought the party was stagnating in the polls, the former minister said this morning: “I don’t know, we got up from the 17 [at the last general election] to 22/23 per cent. At one stage, we went a little beyond that, but we seem to have fallen back.

“We just don’t seem to be going anywhere. The worrying thing is we got 29 per cent in the last local elections. So, we’re up on the general election, but we’re not at the local election level.”

He said the party “haven’t been great at explaining” some of the decisions it took in government or emphasising that the current government is, in his view, implementing “the four-year plan and the whole scenario we laid out in 2010″.

“As time goes on now the decisions are seen to be much more rational and much more sensible then they might have seemed in the heat of the moment in the 2008, 2009, 2010 period,” he said.

“It now seems to everybody that the easy answers of the opposition at the time were not operable. We don’t seem to have got that message across, and we just have to keep pounding it.”

He said that the party had to be “self-critical” from the front bench down to the ordinary members but said there would be no point in changing the frontbench team as all members of the parliamentary party are part of it.

“This is not about the leadership and you can ask me that question and you won’t get a different answer. This is about Fianna Fáil, we care about Fáil,” he insisted.

He said that the party should be recruiting, but said that more important than taking members into the parliamentary ranks, such as Colm Keaveny last week and possibly Peter Mathews in the coming weeks, “the most important place [to recruit] is at grassroots level.”

“If people want to join at parliamentary level that’s fine, but it’s not where you make your long term growth,” he said.

As the grandson of Fianna Fáil founder Eamon De Valera, Ó Cuív is highly regarded within the party but has clashed with the current leadership before after advocating a No vote in the Fiscal Treaty referendum last year.

This led to him being effectively sacked as the party’s deputy leader, as well temporarily losing the Fianna Fáil whip.

Read: Bailout exit sees a rise in support for coalition partners

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Hugh O'Connell

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