Micheál Martin can lead Fianna Fáil into next election, insists Foley

Minister says there is no widespread support for move against Taoiseach from within party

Minister for Education Norma Foley has insisted there isn’t enough support for a heave against Taoiseach Micheál Martin in the wake of Fianna Fáil’s disastrous result in the Dublin Bay South by-election.

The party’s candidate, councillor Deirdre Conroy, got less than 5 per cent of the vote and senior TD Barry Cowen has sought a special meeting to examine the result.

In an email to colleagues he did not reference the leadership issue but said the result is “both a shock and alarming but strangely not hugely surprising.”

He says: “It cannot simply be brushed aside, ignored or not examined” and he also said he believes the electorate deserve a Fianna Fáil that is “fit for purpose”.


The Sunday Independent reported today that attempts are being made within the party’s ranks to get the signatures of 10 TDs for a motion of no confidence in Mr Martin.

The Irish Times understands that while there has been some rumblings of such a motion among some TDs it is unclear how imminent any such move would be.

Ms Foley was asked on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics if she thinks there would be ten signatures for a leadership heave and she replied: “not at all”.

‘Solution-focused leader’

She also said she “absolutely” thinks Mr Martin can lead Fianna Fáil into the next general election as he said he intends to do arguing: “Micheál is a very experienced, solution-focused leader. We see the benefit of that in Government. We certainly see the benefit of that in Fianna Fáil also.”

On Mr Cowen’s call for a special meeting to discuss Dublin Bay South and last year’s general election Ms Foley said: “after any election there’s going to be a post mortem.”

She said the election was “not a good day for Fianna Fáil” though she said there should be “perspective” and she pointed out that Dublin Bay South is not a “stronghold” for the party.

The Minister also said that by-elections tend not to be “fertile ground” for Government parties.

Ms Foley said Fianna Fáil remains the largest party in the Government and local government. “There is a responsibility on all of us including the grassroot to get down to job of work that needs to be done in terms of party we are hugely committed in government and as a parliamentary party to doing the work that needs to be done addressing education and housing and cost of living.

“And it’s a shared responsibility for all of us.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times