Calls from within Fianna Fáil for Martin to enter talks with Sinn Féin

Criticism of party’s performance on social media raised at parliamentary party meeting

One Fianna Fáil deputy said Micheál Martin was ‘overestimating’ the tacit support given to him. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

One Fianna Fáil deputy said Micheál Martin was ‘overestimating’ the tacit support given to him. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

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Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has faced calls from within his parliamentary party to enter talks with Sinn Féin over government formation.

However, sources at the meeting said the calls from TDs such as Robert Troy and John Lahart were not calling on Fianna Fáil to enter power with Sinn Féin but to open talks with Mary Lou McDonald’s party.

Offaly TD Sean Fleming also called on Fianna Fáil to stop criticising Sinn Féin -although he did not name the party specifically - and said it was more or less giving McDonald’s party free publicity.

At its first meeting after the general election, Fianna Fáil TDs gave Mr Martin a mandate to open talks with other parties except Sinn Féin.

One deputy said that in his comments since that point, Mr Martin was “overestimating” the tacit support given to him at that meeting.

“He was our leader with this proposal,” said one deputy. “Nobody was going to take him on. He was overestimating the tacit support.

Mr Fleming and Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill called for review of the party’s poor general election performance while Limerick TD Willie O’Dea warned of the consequences of a second election, particularly against a strong Sinn Féin.

There was also understood to be criticism of the party’s performance on social media.

In response, Mr Martin said the parliamentary party could not give him instructions and then attempt to change them two weeks later.

Those present said Mr Martin was angry in his response. “I don’t think he saw it coming,” said one deputy. “It needed to be said. I am glad it is out there.”

Mr Troy’s constituency colleague Joe Flaherty also said Sinn Féin’s mandate needed to be respected and that criticism of the party needed to stop. Mr Troy is also said to have criticised Mr Martin’s emphasis on unelected figures in Sinn Féin.