Fianna Fáil in turmoil
Fianna Fáil in turmoil

On the eve of his party’s annual Ard Fheis conference, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has suddenly sacked his deputy leader and the grandson of party founder Eamon de Valera, over his stance on the EU Treaty referendum.

With just hours to go before the opening of a crucial Ard Fheis, Martin faces a potential revolt by supporters and allies of Eamon O Cuiv, who is frequently compared to his grandfather.

However, senior party members were attempting to mend fences within the organisaton before the event begins this weekend.

Mr O Cuiv was informed on Thursday that his position as Deputy leader of the party and as spokesperson on communications, energy and natural resources, were “untenable” after he refused to support the party leader in supporting the EU Fiscal Compact.

Fianna Fáil members in Mr O Cuiv’s Galway West constituency said his resignation was a “severe body blow”. Former senator Nioclas O Conchubhair, whose family were founding members of Fianna Fáil, said it was time now for the party to make a “clean sweep” and elect a new leadership.

But former Fianna Fáil minister Willie O’Dea said he was confident the Galway West TD would return to the party’s front bench.

The demotion “doesn’t mean that Eamon O Cuiv doesn’t have a big future to play in Fianna Fáil”, he said,

Mr O Cuiv denied reports he was considering joining Sinn Féin.

“What we have seen in the last year - is two of the leaders of Europe - that is Angela Merkel and Sarkozy - pre-empting the European council and proposing the policy and literally usurping the role of the commission. A Europe that operates on that basis will self-destruct.

“Unless we get a much better deal from Europe, unless the fundamental issues about the structures of Europe that have led us to the place we are in then I will vote No,” he said.

Fianna Fáil’s internal troubles saw a brief return to civil war politics in the Senate.

“Is it not ironic the way history repeats itself?” said Fine Gael Senator Tom Sheahan in the chamber on Thursday evening. “Deputy Micheal Martin is not the first Corkman to be shot in the back by a de Valera.”

He said he was referring to “events which occurred 90 years ago”, just in case Senators didn’t get the reference to the killing of Michael Collins, the leader of forces in favour of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, at Beal na mBlath in 1922.

The Senator’s mock concern for Mr Martin caused an immediate explosion from the Fianna Fáil benches. “That is an absolutely outrageous statement to make, either inside or outside the House,” thundered Senator Paschal Mooney.

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