FF TDs want to be allowed abstain in vote for taoiseach

Only a handful of TDs in favour of Kenny’s offer to form a partnership government

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin at the Dail with Lisa Chambers, Dara Calleary, Charlie McConalogue, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony and Mary Butler. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin at the Dail with Lisa Chambers, Dara Calleary, Charlie McConalogue, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony and Mary Butler. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was urged by his parliamentary party members yesterday to allow them abstain in next week’s vote for taoiseach.

Mr Martin held a lengthy parliamentary party meeting to discuss a proposal from acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny that Fianna Fáil form a partnership government with Fine Gael and the Independents.

The party unanimously rejected the offer by Mr Kenny with only a handful speaking out in favour.

Cork North-Central TD Billy Kelleher, Longford/ Westmeath TD Robert Troy, Carlow/Kilkenny TD John McGuinness, Sligo/Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry, Donegal TD Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher, Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill and Kildare South TD Fiona O’Loughlin said Fianna Fáil should consider the offer.

Mr Troy said the party needed to take some time before reaching a final decision.

Ms O’Loughlin said that Fianna Fáil needed to consider supporting a Fine Gael government from the opposition benches.

She said people had voted for the party to influence policy and the direction of the country and they needed to use that mandate.

‘Overwhelming majority’

One party source said: “It was widely accepted there wasn’t a hope in hell of this happening.

“As soon as the news of the proposal emerged we were all being hounded by the grassroots and our voters telling us they will not support it. We cannot ignore that.”

A number of TDs told Mr Martin at the four-hour meeting that an agreement must be reached on a new government by next week.

Dublin Bay South TD Jim O’Callaghan and Dublin Fingal TD Darragh O’Brien urged the party leader to ensure movement was made by the next Dáil sitting.

Both expressed concern that the public were growing frustrated with the process and called for movement.

Mr Martin was also asked by a number of his party members to abstain from the vote for Taoiseach next week.

However he did not address the point at the meeting in Leinster House.

Speaking after the meeting Limerick TD Niall Collins said his supporters had not voted for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to enter coalition.

He said to “roll over now” would be a “betrayal” of the party’s supporters and their mandate.

‘Get rid of

He said: “The people who are supporting me and who are asking about my views... certainly didn’t contemplate that I would be part of this arrangement which would ultimately involve putting Enda Kenny back as Taoiseach and sharing Mercs and perks with Fine Gael.”

‘Lumped together’

“It is not in the best interests of Irish society that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would be lumped together,” he said.

The Fianna Fáil leader said this was a consistent position by the party.

Mr Martin said it had been one they had fought the election on and a commitment they made to the voters that they could not turn their back on.