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Micheal Martin elected Fianna Fáil leader

The Cork TD beats opposition from Éamon Ó Cuív, Brian Lenihan and Mary Hanafin to become the eighth party leader.
Jan 26th 2011, 3:07 PM 953 5

Updated, 18:04

FORMER FOREIGN AFFAIRS minister Micheál Martin has been elected the new leader of the Fianna Fáil party, at a meeting of the party’s TDs in Dublin this afternoon.

The afternoon meeting – also attended by the party’s Senators and MEPs, though only TDs could vote – assembled at the Fianna Fáil party rooms on Kildare Street this afternoon, and heard a farewell address from former leader Brian Cowen – who now comes the only one of the party’s eight leaders never to have lead the party into an election campaign.

Martin beat the competition of finance minister Brian Lenihan, tourism minister Mary Hanafin, and social protection minister Éamon Ó Cuív.

RTÉ reported that Martin had received 33 first preference votes, compared to Ó Cuív’s 15, Lenihan’s 14 and Hanafin’s 10; it added that the election ended on the third count, with Ó Cuív the runner-up.

When Hanafin had been eliminated and her votes redistributed, Ó Cuív and Lenihan were equal on 18 votes each; Lenihan was then eliminated, having received fewer first preferences.

Martin had been the obvious frontrunner ahead of the meeting, with 28 of the party’s 72 TDs already having declared their public backing for him, but Ó Cuív – the grandson of party founder Éamon de Valera –  had emerged as a late dark horse in the ballot, with heavy canvassing in his favour among TDs on their way into the 2pm meeting.

The former foreign affairs minister, however, obviously overcame that challenge to win the overall ballot – which was conducted by single transferable vote; if the RTÉ tally is correct, he would have required a second preference from just four more TDs to reach the quota.

Martin had endeared himself to many within the parliamentary party after being the first to break cover and openly challenge the leadership of Brian Cowen – a move that cost him his position as Minister for Foreign Affairs, after Cowen won a motion of confidence as party leader just eight days ago.

Martin is to address the media later this afternoon, and takes command of the current Dáil’s largest political party with just 30 days to go before the likely general election date of February 25.

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Gavan Reilly

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