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Dublin: 17 °C Wednesday 12 August, 2020

Micheál Martin: Fianna Fáil can come back from its meltdown

The Fianna Fáíl leader said there’s “no way to put a gloss” on electoral defeat – but insisted the party can recover.

Micheál Martin at the Fianna Fáil think-in last month
Micheál Martin at the Fianna Fáil think-in last month
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has acknowledged the scale of the challenges facing the party – but insisted that there is “a lot of fight still left” in his organisation.

Mr Martin last night set out his vision for the future of Fianna Fáil, whose leadership he took over shortly before a crushing electoral defeat in February that saw the party decimated nationwide and almost wiped out entirely in Dublin.

He said there was a “big job of work” in front of the party. “This has been a tough year for Fianna Fáil”, he told members at the party President’s Dinner in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel last night. “We suffered a very large defeat [...] There’s no way to put a gloss on the election result and it helps no one to try.”

Mr Martin said instead of pretending that the loss was merely a “swing of the electoral pendulum”, party members needed to “step back, to accept the scale of what happened and deal with this critical situation by taking time to review and renew our party.”

The party now plans to meet in February to agree a new set of “fundamental aims” – the first such renewal since its founding in 1926. Members will vote on changes to the party’s constitution, whose items currently include “to secure in peace and agreement the unity of Ireland and its people”; “to guarantee religious and civil liberty, and equal rights, equal treatment and equal opportunities”.

There is also currently a commitment “to ensure a balance between town and country and between the regions, and to maintain as many families as practicable on the land.”

Mr Martin insisted Fianna Fáil could come back from its meltdown at the polls. Saying he was heartened by the “enthusiasm and the determination that I have seen from our members”, he said the commitment of the grassroots was “something that our critics have not taken on board in their determination to write us off.”

He also said that the grassroots had been overlooked during the party’s years in power. “The distance which grew [between the parliamentary party and grassroots members] during a long stretch in government is something I sincerely regret and am determined to put right”, he said.

Read more: Fine Gael picks local councillor to contest Dublin West by-election>

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Michael Freeman

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