Micheál Martin: My head is not on the Fianna Fáil chopping block

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has insisted his head will not be “on the chopping block” if his party fails to win the upcoming Carlow-Kilkenny by-election.

Micheál Martin: My head is not on the Fianna Fáil chopping block

Mr Martin rejected the suggestion he could lose his position, despite recent rumblings of discontent within the main opposition party over its poll standings and poor by-election record.

Speaking on Newstalk radio, he said “no it’s not” when asked if his “head will be on the chopping block” if Bobby Aylward fails to take the seat vacated by former environment minister Phil Hogan’s appointment as EU commissioner last year.

He said the 55-year-old former TD, who lost his seat in the 2011 general election, is a strong candidate who like other recent by-election contenders, is involved in “rebuilding” the party.

Mr Martin said he believes Mr Aylward can claim the seat on May 22. However, he insisted his own future is not in doubt even if this does not happen.

When it was put to him that Fianna Fáil has failed to win a series of recent by-elections, Mr Martin said Thomas Byrne, who contended the March 2013 Meath East by-election, and John Lahart, who failed in Dublin South West in May 2014, were building “platforms”.

Mr Martin has come under sustained recent pressure from within sections of Fianna Fáil in recent weeks over what is perceived as the party’s poor poll showing.

A fortnight ago, a meeting of senior TDs saw concerns raised with Mr Martin by Robert Troy and others, although other TDs present and Mr Martin have stressed the meeting was to discuss policy matters.

In recent days, Fingal County Council member David McGuinness also hit out at Mr Martin’s leadership. The one-time running mate for the late Brian Lenihan, who failed to be nominated for the Dublin West constituency general election candidacy last month, claimed the party is going nowhere and that he and others are discussing running as independents.

Mr McGuinness told the Irish Examiner last Thursday his concerns are not due to sour grapes at losing out on the nomination to Jack Chambers in a tightly contested vote, saying that while he realises “I’m not the messiah”, what he is saying should be listened to by senior party members.

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