John McGuinness says Micheál Martin won't last as Taoiseach, claiming internal talk about replacement

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has hit out at internal party politics and his party leader. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
By Daniel McConnell
Political Editor

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will “probably not” last his two-and-a-half-year term because of mounting internal dissent within Fianna Fáil, a leading TD has said.

Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness has blasted Mr Martin’s ministerial choices which he said rewarded those who “kissed ass” rather than those with ability.

He also said the race to replace Mr Martin has already begun.

“He was no sooner elected as Taoiseach and that discussion [about who would replace him] was happening throughout Leinster House within the party membership. His term as Taoiseach is limited because he has to hand over to Leo Varadkar in two-and-a-half years,” Mr McGuinness said.

Asked did he think his leader would remain in place until 2022 when he will rotate the position back to Leo Varadkar, Mr McGuinness said: “Probably not.”

“Probably not because of the fact there will need to be a successor selected. I won’t be liked for saying [it] but that’s the fact of the politics and the way [it] is played internally and that is a reality,” he said.

It is better and you are more loyal to set out your position, let people know where you stand rather than playing the political game with a long knife in one hand and speaking out of the two sides of your mouth and in appointing ministers and junior ministers that was probably the case more than the other.

Mr McGuinness said his party’s leadership is dominated by “unelected officials” who have huge influence in decision making.

He highlighted what he sees as the Taoiseach’s great weaknesses adding he does not think he will last the half-term he is to hold the office before handing it back to Leo Varadkar.

“When you stand up for people and you put party politics to one side, it brings you into conflict with the institutionalised system that is there. If you measure loyalty by the number of times you kiss ass during a parliamentary party system, then I would fail badly. Unfortunately, there is less and less room for characters like that,” he said.

“What does suffer is the political system where you have a leader, led by unelected officials in decisions which are more to do with personality as opposed to anything else, the system fails," he said.

“Those who lost out are victims of deception. You are looking at the raw world of internal politics. The murky world of political party politics is something I have always detested. It is always about dragging the individual back not rewarding those who deserve to be rewarded. I am not talking about me, I am talking generally. It probably happens in every party,” he added.

“But when you have a system that is dominated by unelected people, then it happens all the more. Then you need a strong leader with a strong personality to get over the inputs of unelected people who are trying to settle scores or promote people who are their choice.”