Fianna Fáil TDs told to follow party line on coalition

General secretary Seán Dorgan says party must assure voters it offers clear alternative

Fianna Fáil TDs must tell voters the party is ready for government and Micheál Martin should be the next taoiseach, it was claimed in a rebuke to the party's director of elections, Billy Kelleher.

Seán Dorgan, the party's general secretary, on Tuesday addressed the Fianna Fáil front bench about its prospects in next year's general election, telling TDs to rule out the possibility of the party going into coalition with Fine Gael or Sinn Féin after the campaign.

The meeting came just days after Mr Kelleher told The Irish Times the party would be in opposition if it was not the largest party after the election.

One party member present at the meeting criticised Mr Kelleher’s comments and said TDs should not be discussing potential seat numbers with the media.

Mr Dorgan said the general election campaign would be crucial and members must remain on message about the make-up of the next government.

Clear alternative

He said Fianna Fáil had to assure voters it provided a clear alternative to the Fine Gael and Labour Coalition.

TDs were told Fianna Fáil would enter government only as the majority party. He and Mr Martin said members must repeat the party message during the campaign.

Fianna Fáil TDs Michael McGrath and Charlie McConalogue told the meeting the party must stop giving mixed messages about coalitions and the party’s prospects.

Carlow/Kilkenny TD John McGuinness also addressed the meeting and insisted the party should not be ruling out coalition with anyone.

Mr McGuinness said Fianna Fáil needed to be at the negotiating table when the next government was formed.