Dominic McGrath, PA
The Taoiseach has said he believes the mood inside Fianna Fáil has “settled down”, following months of unease among some backbenchers about his leadership.
Micheál Martin acknowledged there remains a difference of opinion within the party over some issues, but said he believes that “things have settled down considerably”.
It comes amid months of reported concern within Fianna Fáil about the direction of the party and occasional public clashes between the Government and some backbench TDs.
“I have, since I became leader, facilitated a fairly free framework of people having opinions and having ideas. That has always been my style. I wouldn’t agree with everything that everyone says at any particular time,” he said.
“But I think there is a lot of work going on within the parliamentary party and different members of the parliamentary party are focusing on different issues.
“I think it has settled down well. The first six months of Government were difficult with Covid-19. The restrictions I thought for the newer TDs and Senators, it was a very strange beginning in politics where one couldn’t meet and engage.”
Mr Martin, who this summer said he believed a think-in held in Co Cavan had managed to unite his party over a common purpose and objective, stated differences were “natural in politics”
He suggested the pandemic had been a cause of some of the unrest within the party.
In October, Cork TD James O’Connor threatened to quit the party amid a row over the inclusion of certain road projects in the National Development Plan.
“I think generally speaking it was difficult because of Covid-19, for this particular Dáil and Seanad. I think things have settled down considerably.”
Mr Martin did not say whether he would ask Marc MacSharry, the Sligo-Leitrim TD who resigned from the parliamentary party in September, to rejoin the party.
Mr MacSharry had cited a series of recent controversies, including leaks from Cabinet meetings and the appointment of former minister Katherine Zappone as a special envoy as reasons for his resignation.
Mr Martin said: “Marc took his own decision, took it on his own initiative and that remains the situation.”