Micheál Martin’s leadership ‘not under threat’

Michael McGrath says position will not be affected if party fails to win in Carlow-Kilkenny

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin’s position will not be under threat if the party fails to win the upcoming byelection in Carlow-Kilkenny, finance spokesman Michael McGrath has insisted.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin’s position will not be under threat if the party fails to win the upcoming byelection in Carlow-Kilkenny, finance spokesman Michael McGrath has insisted.

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin’s position will not be under threat if the party fails to win the upcoming byelection in Carlow-Kilkenny, finance spokesman Michael McGrath has insisted.

Mr McGrath said the all the party’s resources would be put behind its candidate former TD Bobby Aylward, who had a “good chance” of taking the seat. He was asked if changes would take place in the event of a loss.

“Nobody is holding a knife over anyone threatening them if the result goes a certain way that there will be consequences,” Mr McGrath replied.

The Cork TD briefed reporters at Leinster House on Tuesday ahead of Dáil discussion on a Fianna Fáil motion calling on Government and the Central Bank to help variable rate mortgage customers when he was asked about the byelection.

“We currently have a Government with the largest majority in the history of the State. There is no point whatsoever in adding another backbencher to a Government with the largest majority in the history of the State,” Mr McGrath said,

“And there is no point whatsoever in adding another opposition voice to those who are destructive, who are negative, who’ve got all the big calls wrong in relation to Ireland over the last number of years.”

He said the party was disappointed at recent opinion poll results but insisted the leadership was “isn’t an issue”. Mr Martin had very strong support within the parliamentary party and the front bench.

Mr McGrath’s colleague Sean Fleming rounded on Patrick McKee, the former Fianna Fáil councillor who has joined Lucinda Creighton’s new political party Renua Ireland.

Mr Fleming, who is Fianna Fáil’s public expenditure and reform spokesman, said people in the constituency understood the situation.

“The gentleman in question was a member of Fianna Fáil up to the other day. He was an elected Fianna Fáil councillor, he attended the Fianna Fáil group meeting.

“He put his name forward to the Fianna Fáil selection convention. He was nominated to that selection convention. He was an active member of Fianna Fáil up to the night of that convention when we chose Bobby Alyward.

“I’ll ask the people of Carlow-Kilkenny to make up their own minds in relation to that...the people in Carlow-Kilkenny can see what happened today.”

Meanwhile, Mr McGrath criticised the banks and said it was not acceptable that variable rate mortgage customers were being “targeted to extract maximum profits from them”.

The Government had done nothing to help people who were being “gouged” by the institutions, he said.

“People should be up in arms about the way they are being ripped off by the banks in Ireland in terms of standard variable rate mortgages,” he added.