Fianna Fáil TDs must decide on retirement over summer
Micheál Martin tells TDs and Senators to make up their minds before September
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: Party must get serious ahead of next general election. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has already told his TDs and Senators to prepare for a general election, and said anyone considering not standing again for the Dáil has the summer to make up their minds.
At a meeting of the parliamentary party this week, the last before the Dáil and Seanad summer recess, Mr Martin said the party must get serious about the next election.
The Fine Gael-Labour Coalition’s term ends in spring 2016 but Fianna Fáil sources said they must be ready for the possibility the Government could fall before then, even in the aftermath of the October budget.
Senior Fianna Fáil strategists have been meeting in recent weeks to assess the fallout from the local and European elections and plan for a general election.
The party is now the largest at local government level, although only one of its European Parliament candidates, Brian Crowley, was elected. Mr Crowley has since left the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party after joining a different European Parliament group than the one to which Mr Martin’s party is aligned.
ReplacementHowever, one of the main messages delivered by Mr Martin this week, according to party sources, was that any TDs not intending to run in the general election should speak with him by September 30th to allow time to select replacement candidates. He also said Fianna Fáil had “steadied the ship” after the 2011 general election meltdown.
Among those who may choose to step down ahead of the next election are Wexford TD John Browne, Louth TD and former ceann comhairle Seamus Kirk, and Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith.
Former leas cheann comhairle Galway East TD Michael Kitt also has ex-Labour TD Colm Keaveney in his constituency.
“We need time to be ready if people are to step down,” said one source.
Sources said a particular challenge will be posed by the new gender quota rules, which require 30 per cent of all election candidates must be female.
Mr Martin said the party organisation has until the end of September to finalise its membership lists, since it now operates a one member, one vote system for selecting candidates.
Selection conventionsThis would allow selection conventions to begin in October, with sources suggesting this would give candidates as much time as possible to prepare. Preparations in drafting the manifesto will also begin in September.
“We have already started reviewing each constituency,” Mr Martin told his TDs. “The local elections have put the party in good stead in many constituencies.”