Change of name among suggestions as Fianna Fáil meets to discuss future

 

A CHANGE of name and logo were among the suggestions to emerge at a day-long meeting of Fianna Fáil TDs, Senators and MEPs yesterday.

The parliamentary party gathered in private session for its first detailed postmortem after its poor general election showing.

The frank exchange of views was later privately praised by those present as a worthwhile exercise and a useful prelude to the parliamentary party’s annual think-in next September.

“There was a consensus that we have to hang together, given our diminished Oireachtas numbers,” said one of those present.

“The mood was constructive and there was an acceptance that it will take time to rebuild.”

The meeting was held in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel on the Naas Road outside Dublin. No statement was issued afterwards and there was no press conference. A party spokeswoman played down its significance, emphasising that it was no more than an extended parliamentary party meeting. “It has been blown out of all proportion,” she said.

Those present said privately afterwards that party leader Micheál Martin attended as a rank-and-file member of the parliamentary party. “He was very much one of us rather than handing down edicts as leader,” said one of those present.

“There was much praise for the role he played.”

Consultant Mark Ryan, grandson of a founder of the party, Dr Jim Ryan, acted as a facilitator. His observations and the suggestions made by those present are expected to be considered by party headquarters and may or may not later emerge as concrete proposals to rejuvenate the party.

It is understood that the morning session was devoted to an analysis of why the party did so badly in the general election. “There was unanimous agreement that we failed to communicate the depth of the economic crisis to the people,” said one of those present.

“We lost their trust.”

Some blamed the coalition with the Green Party while it was also suggested that the embrace of the now defunct Progressive Democrats many years ago was bad for Fianna Fáil.

Another suggestion was that the party should return to its working-class roots, while some concern was expressed about the increasing strength of Sinn Féin in some constituencies.

The presidency was discussed, but no consensus was reached on whether the party should field a candidate.