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Willie O'Dea Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
Willie says

Willie O'Dea: I look around the Fianna Fáil table and I don't see the messiah

The Fianna Fáil TD has defended Micheál Martin’s leadership this morning.

WILLIE O’DEA HAS said that the last thing Fianna Fáil needs in the run up to the next general election is a leadership contest.

The Limerick TD said there is no obvious successor within the parliamentary ranks to current leader Micheál Martin as he mounted a defence of his former cabinet colleague in the wake of a disappointing performance in last Friday’s by-elections.

Fianna Fáil failed to take a seat in Roscommon South-Leitrim despite mounting a strong campaign in the constituency and the main opposition party has now failed to win any of the six by-elections held in this Dáil term.

Amid mounting criticism from the likes of Éamon Ó Cuív about the direction the party is headed, O’Dea insisted this morning there is no “messiah” within Fianna Fáil to replace Martin.

“We’re in the run up to a general election, the last thing we need now, as we prepare for a general election, is to have a messy and divisive leadership contest and go into the general election a divided party,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

FF European Elections Manifestos Campaigns Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

“Micheál Martin is extremely hard working, he’s extremely capable. If he were to be replaced, the replacement would have to come from within the parliamentary party.

“And I say this with the greatest respect to my colleagues – I respect each and every one of them – I look around the table, in my mind’s eye, and I don’t see the messiah and when I look in the mirror I don’t see him either.”

He said the party had gained between six and eight per cent since the last general election, describing this as a “significant achievement” and insisted that while Fianna Fáil was disappointed not to win in Roscommon it did not expect to take a seat in Dublin South-West.

He said that Martin has brought the party “back from its knees” and said it now has to produce “a realistic policy platform” ahead of the next election.

Describing him as a “capable, hard working leader”, O’Dea said of Martin: “He’s preparing to be the next Taoiseach on the basis that Fianna Fáil will be a very significant player in the next Dáil.

“Now, look, by-elections come and go but really what matters is how many seats we’re going to win in the different constituencies in the next general election.”

He added that based on the local elections the party is on course to win a seat in every constituency.

Read: Here are 8 things we learned from yesterday’s two Dáil by-elections

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