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Power quits with blast at Martin

Published 25/05/2015

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Senator Averil Power, who has quit the party
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Senator Averil Power, who has quit the party

Fianna Fail has been dealt a damaging blow after Senator Averil Power dramatically quit the party and launched a broadside at leader Micheal Martin.

Ms Power, a vocal supporter of gay marriage, accused her former colleagues of being out of touch with ordinary people and laughing at her when she called on them to campaign for same-sex couples.

She also launched a withering attack on Mr Martin's tenure claiming he has no followers.

"Fianna Fail lacks vision, courage and leadership," she said. "It doesn't know what it stands for and lacks credible policies on most major issues. It is afraid of taking clear positions in key debates for fear of losing support.

"And Micheal Martin has become a leader without any followers. His front bench are all pulling in different directions and prioritising their personal political success over the needs of the party and the country."

Ms Power said she will serve out her term in the Seanad as an independent and she has not decided whether to stand in the next Dail election in Dublin Bay North.

Mr Martin claimed her resignation was sparked by his decision not to force her name alone on the party ticket for the constituency.

"Essentially she wanted me to suspend the internal democratic process of the party," he told RTE Radio.

"I'm not telling any candidate not to run. I felt in terms of Dublin Bay North the idea you could impose one candidate and one candidate only was simply not right, or proper or correct."

Mr Martin denied Ms Power had been laughed at during a party meeting when she called for TDs to campaign for same-sex marriage rights.

The resignation of one of the party's leading female politicians and a media friendly figure will shatter any feel-good factor coming from Fianna Fail's by-election win in Carlow-Kilkenny at the weekend.

Ms Power said she was repeatedly rebuffed by the party as she sought to promote areas for reform including female participation in politics, education and social justice issues and the gay rights agenda.

"I have become increasingly uncomfortable in a parliamentary party that is out of touch with the needs and concerns of ordinary people," she said.

"I stuck with it because, despite everything, I still believed I could help deliver change from within. I was encouraged by the support of like-minded members. And I thought things would improve over time. They haven't and I no longer believe they will. "

Ms Power also earned respect during her time in the Seanad with Fianna Fail when she revealed she had been adopted as a child, spent time in the Temple Hill mother and baby home in Dublin and put forward proposals to give adoptees more rights to access to information on birth parents.

She had to wait 29 years to find and meet her birth mother.

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