A prominent Fianna Fáil politician has dampened “rumours” that an Independent Fianna Fáil organisation could re-emerge from the ashes, after trenchant criticism of Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin, by former Donegal Mayor Cllr Brendan Byrne were made earlier this week.
Cllr Byrne, who had threatened to resign from his political party, had said that the Cork man who replaced Brian Cowen was not up to the job of rejuvenating the ‘soldiers of destiny’.
But Cllr Billy Grimes, speaking to members of the media after the monthly meeting of the Ballyshannon Town Council said that he believed the latest rumours were nothing more than a kite flying exercise.
Asked if the stories circulating on the re-emergence of an Independent Fianna Fail organisation within the county he observed:
“I certainly would comment on it, if I knew anything about it, but I have had no contact from any senior members of Fianna Fail.
“Certainly at cumann level, everything will be discussed and it is good to see that. As they would say in politics, that is the grass roots of the party. But certainly there has not been any contact made by any elected representative of the party as to whether a split may be imminent. And I can say that I certainly haven’t heard it.
“Of course, rumours will abound, once a resignation is indicated at any level. There is nothing that I can add to any ‘rumour’ and I would suggest that it is rumour at this stage.”
With regard to his own reaction to Cllr Byrne’s criticisms he said: “Certainly the approach to Gay Byrne (by Micheal Martin) was totally incorrect. I think that there are an awful lot of capable people within Fianna Fail. We’ve had very strong people within the party indicating their willingness to go forward, the likes of Brian Crowley, a vote getter and fantastic politician who was willing to let his name go forward
“It’s not an easy task and everyone knows this, standing as a Fianna Fail representative in the present times, or at the last election, but just because we put out a team the last time and got beaten doesn’t mean that we do not contest the next game that comes along.”
He said that issues of candidate strategies in Donegal south west at the last election were now also, “water under the bridge” and that it was an acknowledged fact within the party that grass root members had not been listened to by the party hierarchy on issues of strategies and the like.
“But things are changing, the strategies are new, there is a new approach and the party leader has planned a tour of the country to revamp the party and move it forward.”
He said that Cllr Byrne’s decision should remain just that, but based on his decision not to resign it was apparent his supporters wanted him to remain within the party.