Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin is to travel to Longford in the near future as the party bids to rebuild following the General Election.
The FF leader will hold futher talks with locally elected representatives in an attempt to resusitate a party that has seen its vote slip to just 17.4 per cent and just six seats ahead of a resurgent Sinn Fein.
Last Tuesday, Mr Martin met seven of Fianna Fail’s eight Longford County councillors to discuss rebuilding plans and expected nominations for the upcoming Seanad elections next month.
Drumlish Councillor Martin Mulleady said the meeting involved a broad range of topics all of which were geared towards re-establishing the party from the grassroots level up.
“It was our first ever meeting as a collective body with the leader of the party and it went well. He was trying to get views from councillors about where it went wrong and how best to get the party back on track,” he said. Cllr Mulleady said Mr Martin was quite open about the party’s failure, saying it had lost touch with people on a national level. Part of Mr Martin’s planned radical shake up is believed to involve replacing some of Fianna Fail’s longest serving senators with younger candidates who are committed to running for the Dail when the next general election takes place.
“He is looking for young blood, women and men,” Cllr Mulleady stated, adding that Mr Martin was also likely to co-opt some locally elected councillors on to the Fianna Fail parliamentary party. It is thought unlikely that Mr Martin will appoint any senators from this area as Longford Westmeath has a sitting Fianna Fail TD while many other consituencies have none. Mr Martin will be liaising with local councillors to build on this base in the future. Cllr Mulleady said he intends to work closely with the Fianna Fail leader to ensure the party reconnects with the grassroots in this constituency.
In a call to his fellow members, Cllr Mulleady said now was the time for councillors and prominent local party activists to show clear and determined leadership. He added that the party is determined to ensure that Longford gets the best representation possible.
“Of course Fianna Fail can come back. This (rebuilding) isn’t about where councillors are elected or to what areas. I am willing to do whatever it takes all across the county to get this party back on track and I will do whatever I can to get that Fianna Fail seat back in Longford,” he said.
A spokesperson for Mr Martin said that plans for further talks with councillors in Longford were being ironed out and would more than likely form part of a “wider tour” of local authority districts over the coming months.