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In full: Fianna Fáil whip's letter to Éamon Ó Cuív

“Your right to express your personal view is respected, however, we are a party not just a collection of individuals.”

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE FOLLOWING is the full text of the letter received by Éamon Ó Cuív from the Fianna Fáil chief whip, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, in relation to his stance against the Fiscal Compact.

4th May, 2012.

Mr. Éamon Ó Cuív, T.D.
Leinster House,
Dublin 2.

Dear Eamon

Thank you for the time you gave me yesterday to discuss the Referendum situation. Following our meeting, I met with the Leader and discussed your position. He agreed to your request that we write to you, with details of what is expected of you as a member of the parliamentary party for the duration of the referendum campaign. I fully accept your assurance that you want this to be constructive and I acknowledge the co-operation that you have given me throughout.

As the Leader has said to you at every stage, you are fully entitled to your personal opinions on policy issues, as is every member of the party. Unlike the position on any referendum for the past 50 years, Oireachtas party members had a say before our position was decided. Following the recent successful Ard Fheis any observer will have to admit that Fianna Fáil welcomes and encourages debate. It was there that you got full support for your policy positions on issues such as the registration of septic tanks. The value of your campaigning work on behalf of the Party across the country is recognised and acknowledged by all.

In relation to this referendum the parliamentary party reached a decision. Your views were expressed at the parliamentary party, have been expressed in public, and are now well known. Your right to express your personal view is respected,
however, we are a party not just a collection of individuals.

Each of us signed a pledge when we accepted the Fianna Fáil nomination in the last election and we agreed to clear and long established parliamentary party rules about respecting party policy. It is not feasible for individual party members to campaign as they wish irrespective of the parliamentary party’s formally adopted position, and in our party’s history there is no example of the party agreeing to a member spending a lengthy period publicly campaigning against party policy. I accept that you have never indicated an intention to undertake “a campaign”, however, any media exposure advocating a No Vote between now and Referendum Day cannot be presumed to be anything other than “campaigning”.

There is nothing in the party’s rules or history which would allow a senior member to participate in campaigning against the party’s agreed policy. The party needs to be allowed to put its position to the people without being confronted at every turn by a challenge from within the party. While there are a handful of examples of TDs disagreeing with the party’s position on a referendum there is no example, that I can recall, of a TD doing so over an extended period and after their views were made public. You know that our membership requires us to be coherent.

As was shown on Tuesday night’s TV3 debate, the party’s position on Europe is a strong one and we can take the fight to the other side. What the members of our party want above all is for us to show the public that we are working together in as cohesive a way as possible.

Our position is in line with the policy established within the party for over 50 years, asserted under seven leaders and supported consistently at Árd Fheiseanna and every other level of the party. We all worked together to get the Lisbon treaty passed in October 2009.

As was seen yesterday at our party press conference, the continued participation of a senior member of the party in speaking against the agreed party position directly undermines the party’s ability to actually put its position. By some margin the majority of the questions and coverage of our stance has ignored our case and focused on your own position.

I think we need to put this controversy aside, respect the party’s rules and traditions and move on to the wider and more important challenge of showing how Fianna Fáil offers a credible alternative to this government. You have a very valuable role to play in this process.

Very best wishes
Yours sincerely,

Seán Ó Fearghaíl, T.D.
Fianna Fáil Whip

Ó Cuív to announce Fianna Fáil decision at 5.10pm

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