Martin denies FF divisions

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has insisted that there is no fault line in the party's ranks.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has insisted that there is no fault line in the party's ranks.

Deputy Martin addressed an emergency meeting of the parliamentary group last night, after the departure of his deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív.

This morning, Mr Martin refused to be drawn on who might replace the Galway West TD, who stepped down over differences with his leader on the EU fiscal treaty referendum.

Although the development is reported to have raised concerns amongst local activists, most TDs at last night's meeting are believed to have been happy with the manner in which it was dealt.

Deputy Martin this morning said there were no divisions at the gathering.

"There was no dissent in relation to the issue," he said.

"I think people are upset that this has happened, understandably, and regret the face that a popular member of the party, and a distinguished member of the party Éamon Ó Cuív has had to resign from the front bench."

Deputy Ó’Cúiv today admitted that yesterday was a traumatic day for him, but speaking to Midwest Radio this morning he said that the issue of the EU treaty referendum is bigger than party politics.

"Obviously yesterday was a very traumatic day," he said.

"It's a huge thing to give up the deputy leadership of what is on the ground still probably the biggest political party in the country.

"But there are things that are bigger than party politics.

"I believe that the stand that we make in relation to the fiscal compact - and what is going on in Europe - is absolutely fundamental to the good of the future of the people of Ireland" he added.

But his former Fianna Fáil ministerial colleague Dick Roche disagreed, insisting that safeguarding Ireland's place in Europe is more important.

"The position for Ireland is that being within a strong euro is a very, very good position for a small open economy like Ireland," he said.

"We have to put partisan considerations and political point-scoring to one side and we have to get on and explain what are the benefits of this treaty to the people," he added.

Mr Roche said he was "mystified" by Deputy Ó Cuív's position, given that previous referendums and opinion polls had indicated strong support for Europe among Fianna Fáil voters.

"I think he has had his own views for a long time,"he said.

"He expressed them honestly and I think Micheál Martin did the right thing.

"There wasn't any choice."

More in this section