Grassroots stalwart Ken Curtin quits Fianna Fáil

A long-standing Fianna Fáil grassroots member who led its Cork same- sex marriage referendum campaign has resigned from the party after accusing TDs and Senators of failing to properly back the campaign.

Ken Curtin, who was the party’s Cobh cumann secretary and Yes Equality Cork director, left a day after the departure of Senator Averil Power for the same reason, adding to the crisis within Fianna Fáil.

Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke, Mr Curtin said while “it’s not a single-issue resignation” the alleged lukewarm support the party gave to the referendum is behind the move.

While praising party leader Micheál Martin’s public calls for a yes vote, he said “an awful lot” of rural TDs and senators were deliberately “neutral” so as not to lose future general election support.

The grassroots campaigner said the reality was he “got more contact from the party locally and nationally about trying to organise a church collection than the referendum”.

Hitting out at the wider problems the row represents, he said after 20 years he has decided Fianna Fáil is “too broad a church for me” and that it was disheartening to organise events when his party was the only one which “didn’t turn up”.

Mr Curtin had flagged his decision to leave since the weekend on Twitter which, he said, led to one “Fianna Fáil staff member” telling him he was “one of thousands” and that “they won’t miss me if I’m gone, I’m only one of the foot soldiers”.

When asked about the second resignation during an unrelated launch yesterday, Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Timmy Dooley initially said “who” before Cork North Central TD and health spokesman Billy Kelleher said “any person that leaves is regrettable”.

Speaking on the same programme as Mr Curtin, councillors Sean Haughey and Deirdre Heaney hit out at Ms Power’s departure — despite the fact it improves their own chances of being on Fianna Fáil’s Dublin Bay North general election ticket.

When asked how he voted and whether he campaigned for a yes vote or stayed silent for personal election benefit — an issue Ms Power said is at the heart of the issue — Cllr Haughey said: “I felt I couldn’t canvass with conviction and wanted to listen to the arguments. I’m passionate about my country, but at the end of the day it’s a secret ballot. I want to be perfectly honest, I wanted the luxury of sitting back and listening.”

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