Fianna Fáil’s Mayo Dáil deputy Dara Calleary has rejected claims that his party is in turmoil and facing a possible leadership challenge due to its continued poor showing in the opinion polls.
Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser this week, Deputy Calleary, who is the party’s spokesperson on jobs and enterprise, said all party members would obviously like to be further up the polls but he has full confidence in Micheál Martin’s ability to lead the party strongly into the next election.
Mr Martin has come under fire in recent weeks for his perceived failure to do enough to regenerate the party at a national level following the 2011 electoral meltdown.
A string of recent opinion polls continue to place the party at between 18 and 20 per cent.
The party’s outspoken former deputy leader, Eamon Ó Cuív, told the Sunday Independent recently that Fianna Fáil was facing a very uncertain future, and morale within the party, founded by his grandfather Eamon de Valera, is at an all-time low.
However Mr Calleary said he does not believe the party is in crisis and now is not the time to panic.
“It is not an issue. A lot of it is being media driven,” he said. “There is no doubt there is some frustration. We would all like to be higher in the polls and we are working towards that. But this is not a time to panic, it is a time to work harder and be united.”
The Ballina representative said Fianna Fáil has made considerable progress since 2011.
“Fianna Fáil is the biggest party in local government. We had 25 per cent of the poll in the last local election.
“In Mayo we gained three extra seats and six of our 10 councillors are first time county councillors. That is a sign of a healthy party.”
Mr Calleary said the party still has 20,000 members nationally and there is unprecedented competition at a constituency level for places on the party’s General Election ticket.
He added that Fianna Fáil had been leading the way on some of the most pressing issues on the political landscape - such as the control banks have over the debt restructuring process in dealing with those in mortgage arrears, the variable interest rate issue, and unbalanced regional development.