McGuinness expects Fianna Fáil leadership change after election

TD says party must aim for 45 seats and refuses to rule out replacing Micheál Martin

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has said he expects the party’s leadership to change after the next general election. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has said he expects the party’s leadership to change after the next general election. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

 

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has said he expects the party’s leadership to change after the next general election.

Mr McGuinness told The Irish Times ‘Inside Politics’ podcast that Fianna Fáil must aim for 45 seats in the next Dáil and be prepared to re-enter government.

“I believe we should set out an ambitious target of 45 seats,” he said. “We have to work diligently to achieve that. We have to be given the numbers that the electorate will give us at that election.

“We have to be at that table to say we are interested in going into government and to say we have policies we want to implement.”

Fianna Fáil stands at 20 per cent in last month’s Irish Times/Ipsos Mrbi poll - unchanged since the poll in May.

The Carlow-Kilkenny TD has been a vocal critic of the party’s leadership and admitted he would like to lead the party in the future.

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“The criticism (of the party leadership) is about the culture and the structure that is there that keeps all that status quo in place,” he said. “And what is wrong with John McGuinness saying he wants to be leader of Fianna Fáil? Sure isn’t it an ambition?”

Mr McGuinness was asked if a heave would be made against leader Micheál Martin after the election.

He replied: “Of course there will probably be a change of leadership at some stage after that. We will have to do a bit of navel gazing, we will have to see what it is all about and the players because there will be more than likely be a lot of new players will have to decide on what is the best for the party.”

Mr McGuinness went on to criticise the party structures for ignoring the ordinary membership of Fianna Fáil.

“The political party system at parliamentary party level has taken hold and as a result you ignore the cumann and ignore the structures underneath. As a result you get no membership.”

Mr McGuiness said the electorate were crying out for a change in the way the country does politics and Fianna Fail needed to be at the forefront of that shift.

It needed to either be a player in the formation of the next government or be the best opposition the next government will have.

Mr McGuinness said what the new British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was saying was “not that different from what we want to see over here”.

“He appealed to the ordinary members of the Labour Party and the general public in way that is based on ‘I am going to tell you the truth, this is the way it is’.”