FIANNA FÁIL members of the Killaloe Municipal District are leading calls for consultation with grassroots on the nature of the next government, saying the party “must not for the sake of power, ignore the membership”.
In a joint statement, Councillors Alan O’Callaghan, Pat Hayes and Tony O’Brien have urged members across the country to make their views known, and called for a postal ballot on a Programme for Government. All three councillors have also expressed their preference for an interim government of national unity rather than a coalition with Fine Gael and a third party.
“Normally, under party rules, an Árd Fheis would be held and postal vote shouldn’t be a major problem,” said Councillor O’Callaghan. “There has been mention of talks over the phone with HQ and Comhairle Dáil Ceanntairs, but our preference would be a vote. HQ have no bother writing to us when they want church gate collections organised and membership paid for.”
He expressed the view that there was a growing appetite for an interim government of national unity, given the challenges posed by the Coronavirus: “Very unpopular decisions will have to be made and the best way is through a national government for 12 to 18 months. We stuck by Fine Gael for the sake of the country in the face of Brexit, and we did feel a backlash. We held off on an election here in Ireland, while in the UK, they had no problem going to the polls.”
Clare Fianna Fáil PRO Michael McTeigue agreed that an interim government would be the preferred option of many: “Up at the count at the Falls Hotel in February, I was opposed to that, but there would be a view that it’s now the best way to deal with the fallout of Covid-19.” He added that leaving Sinn Féin out of talks would give them “a free pass to tell the public what they want to hear” without shouldering any responsibility.
Deputy Cathal Crowe confirmed that he has held video meeting with councillors and grassroots and listened to “mixed views”. “I would encourage members to see how the next week plays out and which of the smaller parties steps forward to join a coalition. I understand the concerns of members and the party considering how to facilitate consultation.” On the idea of a national government, Deputy Crowe said he believed a strong government was what was needed.