Fianna Fáil leader denies claim by Ó Cuív he is 'very Europhile'


FIANNA FÁIL leader Micheál Martin has denied a charge by his dissenting party colleague Éamon Ó Cuív that he is “very Europhile” and has a “blinkered” view of the European Union.

“I am pro-Europe, I support the EU as [being] in the best interests of the Irish people, but I am not uncritical of certain aspects of European policy,” insisted Mr Martin.

He was responding to charges by the Galway West TD, who said: “I think he’s very Europhile ... I think he has a blinkered view that Europe can do nothing wrong.”

The Fianna Fáil leader responded: “I am not a Europhile, and if you analyse my contributions to the debates over the last year or so I have been very critical of the tardy response of the EU to the emerging crisis.”

Mr Ó Cuív was forced to resign as deputy leader and communications spokesman in February because of his divergence from the party line of supporting the fiscal treaty.

He has now told the Galway-based Connacht Sentinel that his opposition to the treaty is “shared by a very, very large number of grassroots members if not the majority of them”.

Asked about Mr Ó Cuív’s position when launching the party’s Yes campaign, Mr Martin said: “There is not a family in Ireland that doesn’t have different perspectives on this treaty.”

He pointed out that the front bench unanimously reasserted last week that the party was campaigning for a Yes vote.

Observing that more than 30 per cent of Sinn Féin voters were supporting the treaty, he said the era of “uno duce, una voce” was over, a reference to a jocose remark by spokesman PJ Mara about the leadership of the late Charles Haughey.

He said Mr Ó Cuív had “indicated he is not going to canvass for the No side”. When it was put to him that Mr Ó Cuív was undermining his authority as leader and it was time to discipline him, Mr Martin said: “I don’t need to assert my authority any further within the Fianna Fáil party. I have already done that.

“And Éamon Ó Cuív, because of his views, has lost the deputy leadership of the party, he has lost his position on the front bench.

“My authority now will rest on the force of argument, the power of argument, and that’s where I will be asserting my authority,” he said.

Asked in Irish if radio and television interviews constituted canvassing on the part of Mr Ó Cuív, the party leader said: “He won’t be going on platforms.”