Leader of the Fianna Fáil party Deputy Micheal Martin was in Carrick-on-Shannon last Wednesday evening, September 21 to have a serious meeting with the Leitrim “grass roots” to discuss the future direction of the party.
By Fiona Heavey
Only around one hundred local Fianna Fáil members (out of approx 800 registered members) turned out to meet their new leader and to discuss the future of the party in Leitrim.
Martin’s nationwide tour will conclude this October, he said the purpose of the meetings are to “hear from the members and discuss the past, present and most importantly the future.” Deputy Martin who took over the leadership of the party this year, following Brian Cowen’s resignation in January knows he has a tough job ahead of him.
He led the party to its worst showing in its 85 year history with a loss of 57 seats and a drop in its share of the popular vote to 17.4%. In both Leitrim constituencies, Fianna Fáil lost their seats this year, Micheal Martin admitted his party “fell apart” and he is now re-focusing for the 2014 local elections.
Last Wednesday, Deputy Martin changed out of his muddy boots and into a sharp suit for the vital meeting with the registered Leitrim members of Fianna Fáil, after spending most of the day at the National Ploughing Championship.
“The Leitrim meeting is one of the last stops on the leader’s tour of the country to get back “in touch with the grass roots.”
The Leitrim Observer grabbed a few minutes with the busy leader in between him catching a quick bite to eat, before he faced six of the eight Fianna Fáil County Councillors and went on to meet with the members of the local cummana.
He explained that the party wants to “hear from the members and discuss the past, present and most importantly the future.”
He said the meeting facilitates “an internal debate about Fianna Fáil’s core principals and to re-evaluate and change policy developments.” He said organisational reform, the voting system and the development of Ógra Fianna Fáil will form part of the discussions. He said the party are also looking for ideas to include more women and young people.
Deputy Martin said when the party was in Government “there was a sense that we were disconnected, that the link was broken between leadership and members.”
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.