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Martin and Calleary outside Leinster House.
Martin and Calleary outside Leinster House.
Image: PA Images

Fianna Fáil leadership can't say if a postal vote for members on a Fine Gael coalition will happen

Dara Calleary and Micheál Martin have both said it’s going to be difficult.
Apr 18th 2020, 3:15 PM 16,975 83

FIANNA FÁIL DEPUTY leader Dara Calleary says it’s “not true” to say that party members won’t get a postal vote on any deal with Fine Gael, despite party leader Micheál Martin TD previously saying that such an option was likely unfeasible. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke on Thursday, Martin said he would be “consulting with all levels of the party” but that doing so “presents challenges” given the Covid-19 situation. 

A special Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis would be needed to ratify any possible programme for government but Martin said on Thursday that “Covid-19 clearly rules out such large gatherings”.

Asked would a postal vote instead be considered, Martin said it would be “very challenging”. 

We don’t think that’s very feasible at this stage but we’re looking at trying to devise ways of how we can. Because the rules provide for a specially convened Ard Fheis for the purposes of approving a programme for government, we’re not at that stage yet.  

Speaking today, however, on RTÉ’s Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra, Calleary said it was not true to say that Fianna Fáil members will not get a postal vote on a Fine Gael coalition. 

“Typical Galway hospital pass. It’s not true,” Calleary said in response to the question.

“We’re looking at every option in the circumstances to involve our members in this. Look, there’s nothing ruled in, there’s nothing ruled out at the moment, we’re obviously going to be restricted”.

Speaking on Thursday, a Fianna Fáil spokesperson told TheJournal.ie that the situation of an Ard Fheis has not yet arisen but that if it does: “we will assess the situation then, paying particular attention to the restrictions in place at that time.

Obviously, we are subject to the same restrictions as everyone. In the interim, following publication of the Framework Document, we are engaging in an extensive consultation process with our organisation and parallel with that we are looking at all possible options for involving our membership in the decision-making process.

There had been suggestions over the past few that a two-thirds vote by Fianna Fáil’s Ard Chomhairle could instead approve the programme for government instead of consulting the party’s membership. Either by voting that the membership need not be consulted, by simply voting to approving the potential coalition or voting on both. 

In response to these suggestions, several Ard Comhairle members have been saying on social media that they would not support such an approach. 

Digitally 

Fianna Fáil TD Malcolm Byrne said there will have to be some method of consultation whether by postal ballot or digitally.

“It is difficult but can and should be done. It is important that members have an input into the final programme. It will be essential that a way is also found for Fianna Fáil to maintain identity and develop policy if we are part of a new power sharing arrangement,” he told TheJournal.ie.

He added: “We do need to have a government and all parties must step up to the plate but it is essential that ways are found to engage with our councillors and with our party members.”

- With reporting by Christina Finn

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