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‘This isn’t the North Korean state’ – tensions rising in Clare Fianna Fáil as end to Civil War politics looms

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*Clare Fianna Fáil PRO Michael McTigue, Micheál Martin & Cllr Cathal Crowe. Photograph: John O’Brien

As Civil War politics look to be ending, tensions are rising within Fianna Fáil in Clare as party members have disputed the findings of a survey carried out by the county’s CDC Chairman.

Chairman of Fianna Fáil’s Clare Comhairle Dáil Ceanntair, Mike Enright polled the party’s membership within the county on the prospect of entering coalition with Fine Gael and the Green Party prior to the publication of the Programme for Government.

He claimed that 24.8% of members were in favour, 7.1% wishes to see a Programme for Government before deciding and said the remaining 68.1% “made it very clear in no uncertain terms did they want to go into government with Fine Gael and moreover there was a very strong response in opposition to the Greens”.

According to the Newmarket-on-Fergus man, the response to the survey was “enormous”. He urged members to reject any deal on entering Government and declared that it was time for party leader Micheál Martin and general secretary, Sean Dorgan to step aside.

Some members have since told The Clare Echo that the findings were not accurate and they questioned the motivations of commissioning such a survey. “It said results would be sent to headquarters, it didn’t say they would be released to the media,” one party member outlined. Another senior figure in the party speculated that the Chairman was being encouraged to carry out such actions by other forces in the party.

Membership officer of the Clare branch of Fianna Fáil, Angela Coll disputed the findings of the internal survey. She said she was among “a sizeable amount of members” waiting to see the Programme for Government before coming to a decision. Tony Walsh, secretary of the Shannon cumann of Fianna Fáil stated, “I dispute his figures and his sources”. Mr Enright did not wish to comment to the concerns raised by Ms Coll and Mr Walsh.

PRO of Clare Fianna Fáil, Michael McTigue defended the Chairman’s actions. “He felt obliged to do something to get a handle on things because we can’t have meetings”. He added, “Most people feel we should go into Government at this stage. We should be bringing Sinn Féin into it and give them what they don’t want and that it is to go into Government”.

Fianna Fáil TD, Cathal Crowe commented, “The survey is in countenance to what I feel is the mood on the ground. That survey was unofficial, it wasn’t approved by the Clare Fianna Fáil organisation or by headquarters, Mike undertook this survey himself, I don’t know how many responded to the survey”.

Deputy Crowe believed that the survey “confused people” as he was already asked by the party leader to consult with members in Co Clare. “I was getting quite an opposite result. About 80 people or thereabouts got back to me, there was a mixed bag of views and it was before the Programme for Government was published. The views I got back were of a group outwardly opposed, a group gung ho for the coalition and then there was a large group that were cautiously positive and they have mostly come over to being declared yes voters at this stage”.

He was confident members that disagreed with the coalition would not become disillusioned. “They won’t. We are a very exclusive and respectful party, this isn’t the North Korean State”. Says nobody in the party in Clare will become disenfranchised”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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