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Micheál's leadership "a non issue" say Fianna Fáil's three wise men

The party had some Budget plans to reveal today, but — inevitably — they were also faced with a raft of questions on this week’s rotten poll showing.

THE THREE TDs who make up Fianna Fáil’s financial engine room found themselves having to answer a battery of questions on the party’s poor poll showings this afternoon, as they held a press conference to launch their pre-Budget plan.

There was plenty to talk about on the proposals themselves, first — the opposition party resisted making any massively populist pronouncements, as they unveiled a plan to bring in €361 million in additional taxes as part of a €220 million total adjustment.

But as the press-op began to peter out, attention began to turn the question of their rotten showing in yesterday’s Irish Times poll.

Micheál Martin wasn’t at the announcement because he had never planned to be at the announcement, enquiring journalists were told.

“The party leader has the confidence in his front bench, he doesn’t have to be here with us. We do this every year on our own,” public expenditure spokesman Sean Fleming said.

Micheál is in Roscommon-South Leitrim, where the party are hoping for a by-election win in the contest for ‘Ming’ Flanagan’s old seat, he said.

Calleary, McGrath and Fleming []

Michael McGrath, meanwhile, said this week’s result — which showed support for the party down five per cent to 20 per cent — was just a single poll and they weren’t giving it undue attention.

“The leadership of the party doesn’t hinge on any by-election result,” the finance spokesman added.

Micheál Martin is the leader of the party, he will remain so and has very strong support within the parliamentary party. That is the end of that issue.

Flanking him, Dara Calleary added that the party leader had received an incredibly positive welcome from by-election voters over the past seven weeks or so.

“There is a generally warm reaction. People are happy to see him and they’re out there to welcome him,” the jobs and enterprise spokesperson said.

As the session drew to a close, McGrath again re-iterated that the leadership question was a “non-issue”

We’re focused on the two by-elections today. There are many hours of voting left. We’re calling on people to get out and vote, and we’re hopeful of a good result tomorrow.

Polls in the two by-elections stay open until ten o’clock tonight. You’ll find a full list of candidates in the Dublin contest here, and one for the ‘Ming’ succession race here.

Read: Fianna Fáíl say they’d bring in €361 million in new tax measures

Read: Here’s why tomorrow’s by-elections are now crucial for Micheál Martin’s leadership

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