Kilkenny Press Exclusive: Author: Jimmy Rhatigan
IN AN exclusive interview from his holiday destination in the South of France, outspoken Fianna Fáil TD, John McGuinness has taken another pot shot at his party leader, Micheál Martin.
In a bold and perhaps brave blast, Deputy McGuinness told Kilkenny Press that he believes Martin’s intentions are to amalgamate Fianna Fáil (FF) with Fine Gael (FG) to form one political party.
He says that Martin hinted at such a move – a marriage that could spark uproar amongst FF faithful, or indeed what is left of what would appear to be a dying breed – when he went on record as saying that he would not rule out working with FG in the future.
The latter is a subject that has led to a mix of views amongst FF folk, a contrary cauldron of good, bad and ugly and is now viewed with fear and trepidation by thousands in FF as they eye the latest political polls that see FF languishing in what football parlance would describe as a relegation zone.
“Amalgamating with Fine Gael would offer our country no hope.
Let’s be honest, the only party answering the call of the demands of our country is Sinn Féin (SF).
‘FIANNA FÁIL IS FACING ENDGAME’
“Along with FG we have spent far too much time working to defeat and put down SF and as a result our party that so many of us have taken pride in for decades has now lost its identity and is facing endgame or indeed may already have hit rock bottom.
The Kilkenny/Carlow TD says he will not be in the Dáil Chamber on this Wednesday for the vote of no confidence in FG Minister Simon Coveney following what McGuinness describes as the low standards he showed when working to get a job for his party colleague, Katherine Zappone.
McGuinness says he is not worried about suspension threats issued by Martin to those who do not support Coveney, those who do not attend for the vote, or those who may abstain.
He says the threat of six months suspension from the FF Parliamentary Party amounts to bullying and intimidation.
“You have to be prepared to stand up to this type of thing. You are expected to live by poor standards and vote for poor standards.
“It amounts to watching grown men, politicians you always had a lot of respect for, being beaten over the head and institutionalized.
‘OUR COUNTRY NEEDS VISION’
“It is so sad and discouraging at a time when our country so desperately needs vision and prudent decision-making.
“As far as I am concerned this Wednesday’s vote is purely an exercise in theatre. There is no concern about Government losing the vote.
“I have explained why I did not make it to the party two-day think tank and will not be in the Dáil for any vote of confidence occasion.
“I had already postponed my family holiday three times because of late date changes made by Government,
“That I missed the first event and now miss out on the second doesn’t take from my commitment and resolve to put things right within our party but game changing and alteration of dates made it impossible for me, and some others, to be in two places at the same time.
“When I asked for a link to the party think-in by zoom, my request was refused. I then sent an email expressing my views and asked to have it circulated.
“But when the meeting broke for a spell, I found out that the email wasn’t circulated so I had to circulate it myself. Everything possible was being done to thwart some members of the political party.
DESCRIBED FIANNA FÁIL AS TOXIC
“There is no appetite in our party to address issues. The status quo is always good enough for our leadership.
“Before I was a lone voice, now there are many others with similar views as mine. A younger colleague has described Fianna Fáil as being toxic.
“Our people, those who vote us into power, deserve decent wages and a decent country to live in but the FF Party leadership is not on that wavelength.
“I would ask if the Fine Gael Party is happy with the low standards in which Minister Coveney dealt with the farce that was the Zappone affair.”
Very disappointed, but hardly swallowed up by angst, Deputy McGuinness says FF leadership has led to a one-term only for many young politicians in the Dáil, with no regard for them or their opinions.
“He says that there is an obligation on leadership to provide strong policies, to align Fianna Fáil with the thinking of the electorate.
“This is not happening and as a result newcomers to politics are suffering.
“Barry Cowen and Dara Calleary were shown no mercy. Martin got rid of them as ministers; he showed no reluctance to wield any axe.
MARTIN’S AIM TO SUPPORT FINE GAEL
“Yet when it comes to Coveney he shows all sorts of reluctance regarding any possible sanctioning.
“Martin’s aim would appear to be to support Fine Gael at all costs but when it comes to our own party he wants to sanction anyone who steps out of the way, for a minor or serious offence.
“Fine Gael can do that it likes. That, to me, is a sign of weak and very poor leadership.”
As the no confidence/confidence vote, call it what you will, edges closer, our local deputy has given his vote to his family.
“The vote will not even be on my mind on Wednesday,” he says.
He didn’t say it, but deep down, he is hurting badly, as he believes that the party of his father and grandfather before him is dying on its feet.
Perhaps that is with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana skin?