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Micheál Martin says Fianna Fáil TDs will meet to review electoral performance after the summer break

Barry Cowen had written to party members and called for a special in-person meeting

Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
Image: PA Images

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has agreed to an in-person think-in of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party to review all recent elections during the first two days of September. 

Martin was speaking at a remote parliamentary party meeting at which he sought to quell disquiet about last week’s by-election result in which the party secured just 4.6% of the vote. 

The Taoiseach agreed to the in-person meeting after prominent backbench figures had raised concerns over about Fianna Fáil’s electoral performance and opinion poll numbers. 

Last weekend, Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen wrote to fellow party members and called for a special in-person meeting to address the by-election and 2020 general election results. 

Earlier this week, Martin had said that he was “open” to such a meeting and this evening told colleagues it will give the party a chance to discuss an internal party review into the 2020 general election. 

He told members that the party needs “collegiality and unity of purpose”.

“We are doing a lot of positive work with our government colleagues and Fianna Fáil members across the country want us to continue to do this. We get the problems in housing and we are determined to make a difference by building more social and affordable houses for people .

“Negative comments are damaging our party and should cease,” said the Taoiseach, who told the meeting that “leaking and sniping” by its own TDs is the biggest threat to the Fianna Fáil party right now.

The “greatest threat to Fianna Fail is ourselves”, he added.

Martin said he wanted to to work with all members, with the Taoiseach saying they will “constructively review our organisation, policy and identity”.

The Dáil is siting late this evening but following tomorrow’s sitting it will break for the seven-week summer recess. 

Questions over Martin’s ongoing leadership of the party were raised following last week’s by-election result.

In particular, they have focused on whether he will take on the role as Tánaiste when the office of Taoiseach switches to Fine Gael under the coalition deal and whether he will lead his party into the next general election. 

The mood among Fianna Fáilers this evening is that the Taoiseach had “circled the wagons” this week to firm up support from senior ministers.

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“The Taoiseach has the numbers now”, said one TD, who said Martin is up for the fight if one is brought to him. 

The majority welcomed the opportunity to review the party’s performance at the last general election, with many saying it is “long overdue”.

Separately, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told his party this evening that the plan currently is to speed up the vaccination programme, leave some restrictions in place and re-emphasise the public health messages.

Following push back within his own party as regards the new law that will only allow those immune to the virus through vaccination or having had Covid previously, he said the government decision on indoor dining would be reviewed in September.

Regarding the Summer Economic Statement, the government wants to move into a current account surplus in 2023, where it is only borrowing for capital expenditure and not day-to-day spending.

The meeting heard the cost of living is rising and pensioners, carers, widowers, those with a disability and others, have to be assisted with a welfare package. Varadkar said people also have o be protected from paying more of their salary at the highest rate of tax.

With reporting by Christina Finn

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