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Fianna Fail is united “in terms of purpose and objectives and in terms of what the party wants to do”, said Micheál Martin. /Photocall Ireland
fianna fail think-in

Micheál Martin escapes fireworks in Cavan as Fianna Fáil describes party meeting as 'cathartic'

The Taoiseach said his party had had an “honest meeting” over the last two days.

“THE LETTER FROM Lanzarote” is how one politician at the Fianna Fáil think-in described TD John McGuinness’ letter to the party – although the Carlow/Kilkenny TD is actually in France right now, not the Canary Islands.

Due to last minute changes to the date of the think-in in Cavan (being held a week later than expected) McGuinness’ letter said what many in the Fianna Fáil party are thinking: “The baton has to pass now”.

The Taoiseach is allowing Fianna Fáil to be used as a doormat by the likes of Simon Coveney and Katherine Zappone, he said in a letter sent to Government Chief Whip Jack Chambers.

“Mad stuff altogether, but it has seen our support dropping like a stone, while we bend like a daisy in a storm every time Fine Gael sighs, which they do a lot.

“Fianna Fáil is being made to look weak and marginalised and we have only ourselves to blame. Hissy fits don’t do, when backbone is needed,” he said. 

While McGuinness put his upfront thoughts in writing others were content with using their speaking time at the party’s parliamentary party meeting.

While it had been envisaged that all speakers would have said their piece by late last night, proceedings ran into the second day today.

TDs described it as “cathartic” and somewhat of a counselling session for members, who met face-to-face for the first time in over a year. 

The party discussed the report into the review of Fianna Fáil’s poor performance in the last general election.

Members said that much of the discussion over the last two days has centred around the key issues mentioned such as the identity crisis the party is facing, the need to reinforce that it is a republican party and also how it must reform to be a party for a modern Ireland.

Criticism was levelled at the Taoiseach’s feet, though he is understood to have taken it well. The discussion was described as “honest and tense” at times.

While contributions were noted as “long-winded”, TD Barry Cowen’s was noted for telling the party leader that he can’t take his position for granted. TD Jim O’Callaghan – the man who some tout as the next leader of the party – said the party had “abandoned” its republicanism.

Today, Micheál Martin insisted that Fianna Fáil is united in its “purpose and objectives” following its think-in.

The Taoiseach said his party had had an “honest meeting” over the last two days.

Asked if the party is united, the leader said: “There would be something wrong if there was unanimity of perspective and views.”

But he insisted that Fianna Fail is united “in terms of purpose and objectives and in terms of what the party wants to do”.

The Taoiseach said the party will “get moving” on the recommendations set out in the report into its performance at the general and European elections.

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