Party faithful behind Martin on Ó Cuív
DELEGATES:STRONG SUPPORT for Micheál Martin as leader and affection but no great support for former deputy leader Eamon Ó Cuív represented the broad views of delegates at the ardfheis.
A west of Ireland delegate, who did not want to be named, said: “I like Eamon Ó Cuív, and I think he represents an important ethos of the party. But the party comes first. He let Micheál Martin down badly by causing a controversy in the week running up to the ardfheis. The rebuilding of the party takes priority.”
There was support for Mr Ó Cuív’s view that Ireland should seek some assistance on the bank bailout, but delegates in general backed Mr Martin’s view that a Fianna Fáil core value was its pro-European ethos.
Clare delegate Robert Frost said Fianna Fáil was in a bad state but its fortunes would improve.
“Nobody could agree with what went on in the last couple of years of the Fianna Fáil-led governments, but, hopefully, matters will improve from now on. I thought there was merit in what Eamon Ó Cuív had to say, but I also believe he should have kept his powder dry in advance of the ardfheis.”
Mr Frost said when the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party made a decision it should be adhered to.
“In fairness to Micheál Martin, he could have retired on a big pension as a former minister. He would be getting more money sitting at home looking into the fire if he had retired at the last election.”
Joe Griffin, from Ballybunion, in the Kerry North-Limerick West constituency, said matters surrounding Mr Ó Cuív happened very quickly and they might have been resolved in a more effective manner if there was time.
“The fiscal compact was something he had difficulty with, and he stood firm on that. He was in a difficult situation. There is not right way or wrong way to handle this, I suspect.”
Asked if he had had any problem with Mr Martin’s leadership, he replied: “Not at the moment.”
Dublin delegate Mary McKenna, who received a presentation for her work on behalf of party fundraising, said she wanted to be positive.
“People who were involved in the party in the past are coming back. There is a vigour about the grassroots. We are back where we belong, in the RDS.”
Cork county councillor Frank O’Flynn from Glanworth said Fianna Fáil was in a period of transition. “This ardfheis is a beginning. We will have to move on from here.” While Mr Ó Cuív had support for his views on the European treaty on the ground, his timing was wrong.
Gertrude Ahern from Cork South West said the big crowd and the competition for national executive places were encouraging.
“There is negativity about the state of the party, but there is also a good deal of optimism. Seeing the crowd here this weekend means there is something to look forward to.”