Ó Cuív decides to remain in FF
Former Fianna Fáil deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív has decided to stay in Fianna Fáil party despite his opposition to its support for a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum on the EU reform treaty.
The Galway West TD and former government minister called a press conference outside Leinster House at which he announced his decision.
Mr Ó Cuív resigned as the party’s deputy leader in February when he announced that he could not support the Fianna Fáil position in favour of the treaty.
In his statement this evening, Mr Ó Cuív said he had reflected on the situation over the long weekend, and come to he decision that he could make the best contribution to politics as a member of Fianna Fáil, which was founded by his grandfather Éamon de Valera.
"I will therefore continue to work from within to restore the party to its original ethos," he said. "I can see no party other than Fianna Fáil, for all its faults, that represents my views."
Mr Ó Cuív said he would not be taking part in any media debates on the fiscal treaty referendum or making any further comment on the matter and would fully respect whatever decision the electorate made on May 31st.
However, he told reporters on the plinth outside Leinster House this evening that he believed "with all my heart and mind" that to pass the referendum would be a mistake. He also denied trying to undermine the position of Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
Fianna Fáil whip, Seán Ó Fearghail said this evening he welcomed Mr Ó Cuív’s decision. “I would like to acknowledge and welcome my party colleague Éamon Ó Cuív’s confirmation that he will remain a member of Fianna Fáil and will not be campaigning against the party in the referendum campaign,” he said in a statement. “We welcome this clarity and Éamon’s determination to play a constructive role in the renewal of the party.”
Yesterday, Ó Cuív accused the party leadership of attempting to force him out. He told The Irish Times last night that a letter he received from Mr Ó Fearghail had left him with a stark choice.
Mr Ó Cuív said the letter had a clear implication that he would have to leave the party if he did not accept its contents.
He quoted from the letter sent to him by the party whip as saying: “Each of us signed a pledge when we accepted the Fianna Fáil nomination in the last election and we agreed to clear and long-established parliamentary party rules about respecting party policy.
“It is not feasible for individual party members to campaign as they wish, irrespective of the parliamentary party’s formally adopted position.”
The letter also said the party leader accepted Mr Ó Cuív had not planned to campaign publicly against the treaty, but “any media exposure advancing a No vote between now and the referendum” could not be accepted.
“There is nothing in the party rules or history which would allow a senior member to participate in a campaign against the party’s agreed policy,” the letter added.
Mr Ó Cuív said “the idea the party can now pretend they haven’t put a very stark choice to me defies any reading of that letter”.
Fianna Fáil sources pointed to the fact that the letter was sent to Mr Ó Cuív at his own request following discussions with Mr Ó Fearghail on Friday and Saturday.
Mr Ó Cuív was born and raised in Dublin but moved to live and work in Connemara during the 1970s. He was first elected to the Dáil for Galway West in 1992 and he was appointed as minister of State when Fianna Fáil took power in 1997.
He was promoted to the cabinet as minister for community, rural and Gaeltacht affairs by Bertie Ahern in 2002 despite his public disclosure that he had voted against the Nice treaty in 2001 which was defeated despite the support of the then government parties. He also voted against entry into the EEC in 1972.