Fianna Fáil MEP criticises delay to meeting over party’s poor election performance

Publication of review of the 2020 general election has been postponed by a week

Ireland South MEP Billy Kelleher has objected to the delay. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Ireland South MEP Billy Kelleher has objected to the delay. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

A Fianna Fáil MEP has called on the party to reverse its decision to postpone a meeting to discuss its poor performance in the 2020 general election amid disaffection among TDs and Senators that Taoiseach Micheál Martin is avoiding the issue.

Ireland South MEP Billy Kelleher has criticised the decision to delay the meeting by a week and are worried it will be effectively rolled in with another party event, its annual ‘think-in’, which is being held on September 9th and 10th.

The party was due to hold a special meeting on September 1st and 2nd to discuss a review by an internal group chaired by Seán Fleming into the party’s mediocre results in February 2020.

Instead of an anticipated gain in seats, it fell from 45 seats to 37.

Last Friday, party chairman Brendan Smith and chief whip Jack Chambers wrote to TDs and Senators informing them of the postponement.

They cited a clash with the publication of the Government’s Housing for All plan as well as the updated roadmap on Covid, both of which are due to be published in early September.

They said the meeting would be an “in-person” event, rather than by video conference.

In an email to Mr Smith and Mr Chambers, seen by The Irish Times, Mr Kelleher said neither he nor Dublin MEP Barry Andrews received the email and only learned of the postponement on Sunday, following reaction from TDs on internal party channels.

Mr Kelleher wrote he had kept his diary free for the entire first week of September free but would be unable to attend the event the following week as he had to attend a Renew Europe Group event in Paris and was also speaking at an ECON conference in Slovenia.

“I would appreciate that a meeting be held next week to allow us to discuss the electoral performance of the party,” he wrote in the email.

“I believe there is a strong appetite within the party to proceed with the original plans for a party meeting next week to discuss the party’s electoral fortunes.”

When contacted, Mr Kelleher said he was “very disappointed” with the decision.

“I believe we should have a full review and analysis. It should have been done some time ago. We really need to reassess where we are as a party. That merits a deep analysis and that should have been part and parcel of the meeting in the first week of September.

“If you look at polls and the Dublin Bay South byelection, we are under pressure as a party and we cannot prevaricate on the tough decisions we need to take if we are to address those electoral declines.”

In internal communications, a number of party TDs have also been highly critical of the decision.

There has been particular focus on the fact that it will have taken 18 months before the review of the general election performance is finally published and discussed.

In addition, the meeting is also likely to discuss for the first time the review of the party’s performance in the last European parliament elections, held over two years ago.