Fianna Fáil sharply critical of Hanafin over ‘brutal’ comments

Former minister for education says party’s poll ratings in Dublin are ‘absolutely appalling’

Mary Hanafin: will seek party’s nomination in Dún Laoghaire at next general election. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Mary Hanafin: will seek party’s nomination in Dún Laoghaire at next general election. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Tue, Apr 22, 2014, 01:01


Senior Fianna Fáil figures have sharply criticised former minster for education Mary Hanafin for describing the party’s standing in Dublin as “awful”, “brutal” and “appalling”.

Some privately accused Ms Hanafin of “smarting” over not being the Fianna Fáil Dublin candidate for the European Parliament.

Mary Fitzpatrick, the party’s Dublin candidate for the European Parliament, said: “The last thing people want to hear are politicians, past or present, complaining about poll figures that couldn’t matter less to the people I am meeting every day.”

Ms Hanafin made her comments on RTÉ Radio’s Today with Se án O’Rourke programme yesterday.

She also said she would seek the party’s nomination in Dún Laoghaire at the next general election, having lost her seat in the constituency in the 2011 general election.

A poll in the weekend’s Sunday Independent put Fianna Fáil’s Dublin rating at 9 per cent, which Ms Hanafin described as “brutal” and “absolutely appalling”.

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern also last week described the party’s performance in the capital as “brutal”.

‘Pretty awful’

“The opinion polls aren’t exactly in our favour,” Ms Hanafin said, adding they are “pretty awful at the moment”.

“That doesn’t auger very well for the coming elections.”

TDs were privately scathing of Ms Hanafin’s intervention, and one senior deputy accused her of “smarting” over not securing the party’s nomination for the European Parliament in Dublin.

“Does she have any idea why we are in the state we’re in, maybe because of the cabinet she sat in?” asked another TD.

Ms Hanafin is understood to have expressed an interest privately in running to be an MEP, but ruled herself out before Fianna Fáil chose Ms Fitzpatrick.

Her brother John Hanafin, a former senator, also sought a place on a Fianna Fáil ticket for the local elections.
Mr Hanafin lost out at the convention for the Pembroke-South Docks ward in Dublin City Council. Party headquarters later chose to add another candidate, Lorraine Clifford, who came second at the convention, ahead of Mr Hanafin.


Recovery
Meanwhile, Public Expenditure spokesman Seán Fleming, a Laois-Offaly TD, said the party’s recovery to date was not happening as quickly as had been hoped.

“It is taking longer for Fianna Fáil to get the level we hoped,” he added. “We would hope to get to 25 per cent and if we are there for the locals,we would have made substantial progress.”

Fianna Fáil is hovering around the early to mid-20s in a succession of recent opinion polls, with the last Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI poll putting it level with Fine Gael on 25 per cent.

Fianna Fáil achieved more than 24 per cent in the 2009 local elections, considered a meltdown at the time, and 17 per cent in the 2011 general election.

Mr Fleming said the party was “not making the progress we should be”.

“People are drifting to the Independents. They are not moving to the Opposition; 25 per cent is our target, that would be a big result for us.”

He said leader Micheál Martin was “putting in a phenomenal amount of work but it does take quite a bit of time”.

In the event the goal of 25 per cent isn’t achieved, Mr Fleming said it was “something we will deal with the aftermath of the election”.

“We are only getting back to politics as normal, everyone held back when the troika was here. We need to be stronger against the Government.”