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Disaster for Fianna Fáil as prominent Yes Equality campaigner quits

Meanwhile, Senator Averil Power said she was “laughed at and made feel like an eejit” for suggesting colleagues campaign for a Yes vote.

Updated 1pm 

KEN CURTIN – ONE of the leading campaigners for a Yes vote in the Cork area in last week’s same-sex marriage referendum – has quit Fianna Fáil.

The news comes just a day after Senator Averil Power announced she was leaving – partly due to the party’s lacklustre support for the Constitutional change.

Fianna Fáil hadn’t made a proper effort to get the Yes vote out, Power contended – as she announced her resignation yesterday.

The party has refuted this claim.

Curtin – a longtime member of the party in the Cobh area – issued the following tweets this morning, confirming he was also leaving:

Curtin was the party’s public relations officer for Cork East, and secretary of the Cobh cumann.

Both resignations have completely overshadowed Bobby Aylward’s return to the Dáil today, following his success in the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election at the weekend.

Curtin and Power were both interviewed on Today with Keelin Shanley earlier.

Curtin said Fianna Fáil’s lack of support in terms of marriage referendum campaigning was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, noting his decision to leave “definitely wouldn’t be a single issue resignation”.

Curtin said he discussed the issue with family and friends before making a final call, stating:

I’ve been questioning my loyalty to the party for some time.

He said the vast majority of posters in support of the marriage referendum put up in Cork were erected by Yes Equality Cork, saying: “Fianna Fáil wouldn’t put up their own posters.”

Curtin added that his party colleagues were “very noticeable by their absence” at Yes events, noting: “In general my own party didn’t turn up.”

He also said he wasn’t “in the same space as Averil when it comes to criticising” Micheál Martin, but added that her assertion he was “a leader without followers” is somewhat true.

Curtin said the inevitable debate on 8th amendment will be “a nightmare”.

As a person who cares about women’s rights … it was very hard to be part of a party that wants to protect the 8th amendment.

Curtin said “every party from far left to far right has been in touch” since he resigned to wish him well, but added he’s not looking to join another party “at the moment”.

Speaking at Leinster House today, Cork North-Central TD Billy Kelleher said he was disappointed by Curtin’s resignation:

But let’s be very clear, there is thousands of members of the party who are still within the part today but any person that leaves is regrettable.

Earlier on the programme, Power clashed with the party’s justice spokesperson Niall Collins.

Senator Averil Power Resigns Averil Power Source: graphy: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Collins said Power “never articulated to me that she had any concerns of unhappiness about the campaign, I don’t know if she confided that in anybody”.

Power, who engaged in a war of words with party leader Micheál Martin yesterday following her shock resignation, said it was “completely untrue” that her colleagues were unaware of her discontent.

“It was clear I was unhappy,” Power stated, again claiming to have been “laughed at and made feel like an eejit” for suggesting colleagues campaign for a Yes vote and wear Yes badges.

“I would have hoped that instead of going on a personal attack they would have dealt with the issues I raised,” Power said.

Collins refuted this, saying: “Nobody has made a personal attack on Averil, far from it … she’s wrong to say that.” He added that Power had been unfairly disrespectful to Martin.

Fianna Fail 1916 Moore Street Redevelopments Seán Haughey Source: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Seán Haughey, one of Power’s main competitors for selection in Dublin Bay North, said it was his understanding that she would have been added to the ticket as she would “probably not” have been successful at the convention.

The former junior minister said he would “obviously” love to run by himself but that party strategists have other ideas.

He wished Power well, saying: “I had a good working relationship with her, I never had a cross word with her.”

Haughey refused to say how he had voted in the marriage referendum, citing the confidentiality of the ballot.

Power thanked Haughey for clarifying that she was going to be on the ticket, but dismissed his view that she wouldn’t be successful at the convention, remaining confident she would have won a seat for Fianna Fáil in the constiuency.

The senator said she still isn’t sure if she’ll run as an independent candidate in the general election.

Power said she has been “inundated with messages from people saying they wanted me to run”, to which Haughey said he has also been “inundated” with messages of support.

- with reporting from Daragh Brophy and Hugh O’Connell 

Micheál Martin comes out swinging against Averil Power… and she’s swung back

Averil Power said A LOT of harsh things about Fianna Fáil today

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Órla Ryan

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