Desperation at Fianna Fáil has grown to such an extent that TDs are concerned about the next Seanad election.
There are fears among partisans that their incumbent councilors will be all but wiped out in the next local elections, due in or around May 2024.
As a result, Fianna Fáil would be fighting for Seanad seats after the next general election, which is due no later than February 2025 – as councilors make up the bulk of the electorate for the upper house.
Some in the party believe that the next general election should be held before the local elections to ensure Fianna Fáil maintains the balance of power throughout the local government system.
This in turn would allow her to fill the Seanad, presumably with former TDs who would lose their seats after being campaigned by Sinn Féin.
A Seanad with a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael majority would make life very difficult for Mary Lou McDonald in her first term in office of the Taoiseach. As with Dáileanna recently, the Seanad could thwart the legislative process and prevent Sinn Féin from passing legislation it was not happy with.
It would also give Fianna Fáil room to recover from what pessimistic TDs see as a looming electoral disaster comparable to what happened to the party in the wake of the financial crash. The logic is that the remaining TDs and Senators could come together and rebuild the party from the ashes, much like Micheál Martin did more than a decade ago.
There are many ifs, buts and maybes in this scenario, but it perfectly captures the frustration at the heart of Fianna Fáil.
The fact that TDs are thinking about the next Seanad election means there are serious problems in a party currently ruling the country.
The nuclear option for the proposals is to call for a renegotiation of the government program in December, on the grounds that the economy is in a very different place than it was in 2020 when the coalition was formed.
A new Fianna Fáil leader could also insist that she wanted to put her stamp on the program and force Fine Gael and the Green Party into negotiations.
“We’re trying to renegotiate the government program with a new set of radical policies and if Fine Gael says no, we’ll tell them to fuck off and go to the country,” said a Fianna Fáil TD. It is this kind of disillusionment that led a group of four Fianna Fáil TDs (Barry Cowen, Jackie Cahill, James O’Connor and Paudie O’Sullivan) to organize an unofficial meeting of party backbenchers and senators to discuss their electoral fate .
The meeting, which took place during Mr Martin’s state visit to Ukraine, heard the views of a multitude of members who expressed frustration at the way Fianna Fáil, particularly party headquarters, was being run.
A number of attendees mentioned how much money the party made from government subsidies to political parties based on how many TDs and Senators they win.
What will become of the formation of this new group remains to be seen.
However, it is safe to say that Fianna Fáil MPs are at the end of their rope and Mr Martin faces an uphill battle to bolster backbench support ahead of the change in the Office of the Taoiseach.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/worrying-about-the-seanad-reveals-the-true-depths-of-despair-within-fianna-fail-41826497.html Concern for the Seanad reveals the true depths of despair in Fianna Fáil