NOW is not the time for Fianna Fáil to be thinking about a change in leadership.
That is according to Cork East TD James O’Connor, who was speaking after media speculation in recent days about a possible change of leadership being discussed by members who are disillusioned by the stewardship of An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin.
On Sunday, Barry Cowen, former agriculture minister, said in a media interview that Mr Martin should step down as leader of the party before the next election.
However, the Taoiseach has said in recent weeks that he intends to lead the party into the next election.
Mr O’Connor said: “From my point of view, I don’t think the leadership of the party should be up for a challenge now.
“It would be unwise for the party to discuss the leadership in the middle of a pandemic.”
However, he acknowledged that there is still “significant disappointment” within the Fianna Fáil party among “senior colleagues who had hoped to be ministers”.
It is understood that disappointment about losing out on ministries remains a bone of contention among some longstanding TDs.
Among those who lost out on a ministry was Jim O’Callaghan, who had been tipped to take over the justice portfolio when the new government was formed.
Now, Mr O’Callaghan is being seen as a firm favourite to take over the leadership, according to informed sources within the party.
Although Darragh O’Brien, the housing minister, is also being mentioned as a potential candidate to replace Mr Martin as leader, one source familiar with soundings within the party said that the numbers are currently stacking in favour of Mr O’Callaghan.
Under the terms of the coalition, Mr Martin will continue in the role of Taoiseach until December 2022, at which point the role will be taken up again by Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar.
Mr Martin would then take over the mantle of tánaiste in his role as leader of Fianna Fáil.