Fianna Fáil party members in Galway West let off steam against the party hierarchy, the former Government, and even Éamon Ó Cuív, at a meeting in Moycullen on Monday.
Fianna Fáil in Galway West normally holds a post general election meeting to discuss the results and ideas for the period ahead, but when the party entered The Forge in Moycullen on Monday night it was following an electoral massacre the like of which the party had never endured before.
According to party members who attended, the meeting was a mixture of anger, accusation, party solidarity, and praise.
“There was a strange atmosphere there,” said one attendee. “There was an attitude of ‘It’s business as usual’, but I suppose that comes from the fact that nobody knows how else to do it.”
The Galway members could still console themselves with the thought that Galway was one out of only 10 counties in the State that returned a Fianna Fáil TD. In the case of Galway West, Dep Ó Cuív is the party’s sole Dáil representative here.
However this did not do much to assuage the anger felt by party members at party HQ, the former leadership and cabinet, and at Dep Ó Cuív.
Members were highly critical of the party for the way it has centralised power over the last 10 to 15 years, depriving grassroots members of a say and any power in decision “There was a lot of anger expressed at how the party is being run, at those ministers who jumped ship before the election,” said another member. “We had completely lost touch with our core values. I remember election candidates being asked what money they could bring to the campaign, nothing at all about what they could bring to the Dáil.”
The attendee continued: “There was also much criticism of decisions taken in government - particularly over the mismanagement of the economy and how economic prudence was forsaken.”
Dep Ó Cuív was criticised for having “passively supported” the centralisation of powers in the party and for being a member of the cabinet which presided over the boom and the subsequent economic explosion. Despite this he was still praised by party members for his “honesty, integrity, and hard work”.
The meeting was one that allowed members to ‘let off steam’, but according to former city councillor John Connolly, while there was “huge anger” those at the meeting also expressed “great resolve” to rebuild the party.
“There was great resolve expressed to return the party to its core values,” he said, “so in the end it was quite a positive meeting.”
The meeting was also attended by councillors Peter Keane and Ollie Crowe and former councillor Mary Leahy.