The Taoiseach’s relationship with his TDs has been described by a Fianna Fáil colleague as that of “a teacher to his pupils where the the parliamentarians are empty vessels eager to learn from the master”.
Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry told a party meeting that the Taoiseach’s interaction with his parliamentary party left a lot to be desired. The dissident TD has led internal criticism within the party of Fianna Fáil’s performance in Government. The virtual meeting was conducted on Zoom and was marked by criticism from several other TDs about the party’s performance, particularly when it came to communications.
One other TD said party chairman Brendan Smith should become more proactive in his role. According to sources, Mr MacSharry advised the Taoiseach not to do any further joint press conference with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar because the Fine Gael leader was “running rings” around him. He also berated Fianna Fáil Ministers for not being in command of their briefs.
Turning to Mr Martin’s performance, it is understood Mr MacSharry said there was a lack of consultation and the approach was not leadership and neither was it management.
“It is a teacher-pupil relationship where the parliamentary party are empty vessels eager to learn from the master,” the sources quoted him as saying.
Praise for Calleary
Mr Martin has said the recent period, including the so-called Golfgate event, had been difficult. He praised former minister Dara Calleary for acting so quickly when he realised the import of what had happened. Government Chief Whip Jack Chambers also unveiled a new internal committee system for TDs and Senators covering all departments, where backbenchers will be able to be briefed and have an input in policy.
There will be six policy groups coving all areas of Government. The party is also to set up a new committee to improve communications between backbenchers and Government. The co-ordinating committee will comprise Mr Chambers, two other Ministers in addition to three members of the parliamentary party. The party is also appointing TDs who will have responsibility to liaise with the party’s councillors and grass roots, plus constituent bodies including the youth wing, Ógra.