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Will Micheál Martin lead the party into the next general election? 'We'll have to think about that'

Fianna Fáil does not ‘understand the scale of the problem in housing’ says Jim O’Callaghan.

Fianna Fail's Jim Callaghan and election candidate Deirdre Conroy outside the RDS count centre.
Fianna Fail's Jim Callaghan and election candidate Deirdre Conroy outside the RDS count centre.
Image: Leah Farrell

FIANNA FÁIL’S DIRECTOR of Elections for the Dublin Bay South by-election Jim O’Callaghan has put a question mark over whether Micheál Martin should lead the party into the next general election. 

When asked if the Taoiseach should lead the party if the general election is held in 2024/25, he replied: “We’ll have to think about that.”

Final tallies put Fianna Fáil’s candidate Deirdre Conroy below 5%. 

O’Callaghan admitted the party’s performance today was “disappointing”.

While he initially said now is not necessarily the time to change the party’s leader, he did not rule it out in the future.

O’Callaghan, who is the sitting Fianna Fáil TD in the Dublin Bay South constituency, said he would take responsibility for today’s result, bu not exclusively.

“Unfortunately, Fianna Fáil has been declining in national opinion polls, both nationally and in Dublin and regrettably this vote is consistent with that decline that we have seen since the general election in February 2020,” he said.

“I don’t have answers for you today to explain why,” he said. 

However, he added that his party needs to become “more relevant” particularly when it comes to housing.

Fianna Fáil does not “understand the scale of the problem in housing”, he added.

“I don’t see how we are relevant in this election, I didn’t see the relevance of us in this election,” he said.

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“Unless the public see Fianna Fáil in government having made progress on the housing issue, by the time the next general election comes, we will be facing similar results,” said O’Callaghan.

He added:

The reason why Sinn Féin have done well on the topic of housing is not because people believe they have the solutions, but it’s because people believe they understand the scale of the problem, and I regret I don’t think Fianna Fáil understand the scale of the problem with housing yet.

When asked if such a poor result places him in a precarious position, due to him being earmarked by some to take over the leadership perhaps one day, O’Callgahn said he had no problem accepting his share of the responsibility. 

“But I don’t think the by-election was about me,” he said.

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