‘Great anger’ in Fianna Fáil ruling body to be outlined in letter to party TDs

Leaks of party meetings and comments against Martin criticised by National Executive

Speakers at the National Executive meeting were critical of comments made by party TDs after the Dublin Bay South byelection which they said undermined Taoiseach Micheál Martin

The ruling body of Fianna Fáil is to write to the party’s TDs to express the anger of members at their behaviour, as divisions in the party continue to fester.

The unprecedented move, which follows the recent poor showing in the Dublin Bay South byelection and both public and private criticism of leader Micheál Martin by the party’s TDs, was decided at a meeting of the party’s national executive last Thursday.

Sources said there was a long discussion, during which members expressed “great anger”, in the words of one person present, at many of the party’s TDs.

Speakers were critical of TDs for leaking of discussions at the parliamentary party meetings, and also for what they said was undermining the party leader in the comments after the byelection.


The motion to write to the party’s TDs was agreed unanimously, and the letter is expected to be issued this week.

The national executive – or ard comháirle – is technically the party’s ruling body when the ard fheis is not in session. It comprises about 80 members elected from each constituency, a “committee of 15” directly elected at the ard fheis, and representatives of the party’s councillors, TDs and senators. As such, it is heavily dominated by the party’s grassroots membership, where Mr Martin enjoys considerably greater support than he does among the party’s TDs, with some of whom he has had a more strained relationship.

At last week’s meeting, Mr Martin briefed members about the Government’s efforts to manage the pandemic, and also spoke about the recent byelection. Members were then highly critical of the behaviour of some of the parliamentary party, according to sources present.

However, there was evidence on Sunday that the divisions remain as acute as ever in the party.

Backbencher Marc MacSharry – a frequent critic of Mr Martin who has frequently called for the leader’s resignation – told the Sunday Independent that “the vast majority of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party” believed there was a problem with the leadership of the party.

Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen pointedly repeated comments made by Mr Martin in 2010 when challenging his brother Brian’s leadership: “I believe Fianna Fáil must recognise the reality of the current climate of public opinion.”

In the same newspaper, former minister Willie O’Dea criticised “the addiction of some of our members to office.”

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times