Fianna Fáil ‘in need of dramatic overhaul’

FIANNA FÁIL’S poor performances in recent local elections are “clearly unsustainable” and the party needs dramatic overhaul of its structures to rescue the situation, an internal report has found.

Fianna Fáil performed disastrously in last year’s local elections, losing more than 80 seats, but the authors of the report point out that the pattern of slippage has been evident for more than a decade.

They say planning for the 2014 local elections should start from September 1 next if the party is to change its fortunes.

And they recommend dramatic overhaul in Dublin, as well as reforms in the cities of Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford, in order to achieve it.

The report was produced by former Fianna Fáil ministers Chris Flood and Gerard Collins, with Mr Flood assessing the situation in all the Dublin constituencies and Mr Collins examining the other cities.

The authors say it became evident in the course of their work that Fianna Fáil has a “weakened activist base and structures in the cities that require strengthening and modernisation”.

In relation to Dublin City Council, the report points out that Fianna Fáil’s vote steadily declined from 1999 to 2009 despite an increase in the overall number of voters.

The party’s share of the vote slipped from 34.67% in 1999 to 22.97% in 2004 and just 18.10% last year. As a result, it now holds a mere six of the 52 seats available on the council.

In Cork City Council, the party’s vote-share slipped from 36.38% in 1999 to 20.5% last year, with its number of councillors falling from 12 to 6.

In Limerick City Council, the vote slipped from 27.77% in 1999 to 12.5% last year, with councillors falling from six to one.

In Waterford City Council, the vote slipped from 20.24% in 1999 to 13.15% last year, with councillors falling from four to one.

In Galway City Council, the vote slipped from 29.58% in 1999 to 21.67% last year, with councillors falling from five to three.

“This is an unsatisfactory situation and is clearly unsustainable,” the report says.

Poor local election performances become a national problem because political parties prefer their general election candidates to be councillors with track records of electoral success.

The report recommends a series of reforms, including changes to party structures and the appointment of a “Dublin office under the leadership of a Dublin director”, who would be a member of management at party headquarters.

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