Martin says FF leadership not under discussion

Fianna Fáil leader makes light of reports about John McGuinness interest

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin said: “No . . . I don’t want to comment too much on the article; it is an interesting article’’

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin said: “No . . . I don’t want to comment too much on the article; it is an interesting article’’

Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 01:00

Micheál Martin has made light of reports that Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness wants his job as Fianna Fáil leader. “There are many people with ambitions in Fianna Fáil . . . always have,’’ he said. “So I think that is one more.’’

Mr Martin was responding, following the party’s annual 1916 Rising commemoration in Arbour Hill, Dublin, yesterday, to a report in the Sunday Independent that Mr McGuinness had told him of his ambition to succeed him.

The report said Mr McGuinness, who is chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, turned down a suggestion that he run in the European elections because “if I am in Europe, I can’t contest the leadership’’.

Asked yesterday if Mr McGuinness had said directly to him he did not want to go to Europe but wanted his job, Mr Martin replied: “No . . . I don’t want to comment too much on the article; it is an interesting article.’’ His response provoked laughter from the large Fianna Fáil group surrounding him.

The Fianna Fáil leader said the party was going well in the European and local election campaigns across the State.

“As far as I am concerned, my focus, the focus of the parliamentary party and, indeed, the membership across the country, is to achieve the best results we can,’’ he added.

He said that while he was cautious about opinion polls, the party was doing well in those published so far. “There is a clear anti-Government sentiment on the doorstep,’’ he added.

Fianna Fáil TDs last night privately ruled out a challenge to Mr Martin, bar a very poor election performance next month.

Mr McGuinness was unavailable for comment.