Fianna Fáil’s Averil Power to leave ‘cowardly’ party

Senator says Martin has become a leader without any followers

Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power announced she intends to leave the party outside Leinster House this afternoon, saying the party "lacks vision, courage and leadership".

 

Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power is to leave the party and continue in politics as an Independent, she announced this afternoon.

“Fianna Fáil lacks vision, courage and leadership,” she said outside Leinster House. “Mícheál Martin has become a leader without any followers.”

Ms Power said she made her decision a few weeks ago but waited until same-sex marriage referendum result was known.

Ms Power, who campaigned strongly in favour of a Yes vote, said the party has not changed despite her best efforts and she doesn’t believe it will.

Ms Power said the party took a “cynical and cowardly” approach to the referendum. She said she is uncomfortable in the party and criticised the performance of Mr Martin.

“I have become increasingly uncomfortable in a parliamentary party that is out of touch with the needs and concerns of ordinary people.

“I stuck with it because despite everything I still believed I could help deliver change from within. I was encouraged by the support of like-minded members. And I thought though things would improve over time,” she said.

“They haven’t and I no longer believe they will.”

Ms Power said she no longer knows what Fianna Fail stands for and claimed it lacks credible policies.

She said the frontbench are “all pulling in different directions” and prioritising their personal political success over the needs of the party and the country.

Ms Power, from north Dublin, was elected to the 24th Seanad in April 2011 by the Industrial and Commercial Panel.

She was the Fianna Fáil Seanad spokeswoman on Education and Skills.

She contested the 2011 general election in the Dublin North–East constituency but was not elected.

Ms Power said she will remain as an Independent Senator.

She said she has not made up her mind about running in the next Dáil election in the newly-created Dublin Bay North constituency.

Mr Martin said Ms Power’s decision was about Dublin Bay North and her fight there.

“Opinion polls indicated Averil couldn’t win a seat on her own,” he told RTÉ’s News at One.

He also denied Ms Power’s allegation that she was laughed at during a parliamentary party meeting and said that claim was a “gross distortion”.

Mr Martin said: “I don’t mind criticism. But there has to be substance behind the criticism.”

Dublin City Councillor Paul McAuliffe said he was disappointed Ms Power had made the decision.

He said the forms for selection conventions had arrived today and said it was hard not to think she was “running away from that contest”.

Ms Power was expected to contest the Dublin Bay North selection convention alongside Sean Haughey and Deirdre Heaney.

Mr McAuliffe said: “To walk off the pitch before the game is played is really disappointing.”

He said he voted for Ms Power in the Seanad and was frustrated she would no longer represent him.

“That is the role of the Seanad to represent councillors and local authority members,” he added. “By leaving the party, she is depriving us of that voice.”