Re-admission of Marc MacSharry into Fianna Fáil parliamentary party stalls

Sligo TD resigned party whip last year over motion of confidence in Simon Coveney

The re-admission of Marc MacSharry into the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party has stalled, with a private meeting of TDs and Senators being told “an issue has arisen”.

The Sligo TD resigned the party whip last year over a motion of confidence in Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

It had been expected that Government whip Jack Chambers would table a motion at Wednesday evening’s parliamentary party meeting to pave the way for his re-admittance. This was to happen after a previous request made by Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen for Mr MacSharry to be allowed back in the party fold.

However, the motion did not go ahead.


Sources told The Irish Times that Mr Chambers informed the meeting that “an issue has arisen”, that he had spoken to Mr MacSharry earlier in the evening and that his re-admission will be revisited next week.

It is understood that Mr Chambers offered no other details of the issue.

It is understood a number of party members raised questions on why Mr MacSharry’s readmission to the parliamentary party was not happening on Wednesday night.

Sources said Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness argued that the readmission should go ahead regardless of the issue said to have arisen as otherwise it has left Mr McSharry “under a cloud”.

There was anger among some Fianna Fáil TDs speaking on condition of anonymity after the meeting at how the issue is being handled.

Mr MacSharry declined to comment on the matter.

A vocal critic of Fianna Fáil policy and direction since the party entered Government in 2020, Mr MacSharry had been particularly critical of the performance of Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

He resigned in September 2021 when the party refused to have a meeting about Fianna Fáil’s voting intentions on a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in Mr Coveney. The motion focused on Mr Coveney’s role in the appointment of former minister Katherine Zappone to a UN envoy role.

Separately, a number of Fianna Fáil members at the parliamentary party meeting raised concern about An Bord Pleanála’s involvement in proposed infrastructure projects.

Senator Ollie Crowe is said to have highlighted the issue of the planned Galway ring road.

Last week, An Bord Pleanála conceded a High Court case taken by campaign group Friends of the Irish Environment against the proposed €600 million road, a move that will scrap planning permission for an 18km project that was supposed to ease chronic traffic congestion in the city.

Senator Crowe is understood to have told the meeting that what happened threatens the continued development of the economy in the region.

He said the road network is already “inadequate” and will be “completely incapable” of serving a population due to grow to 120,000 by 2040.

He argued that Galway needs the ring road and An Bord Pleanála’s decision in the case is a “serious setback”.

Sources said that Cork East TD James O’Connor supported Senator Crowe’s remarks and said that issues with An Bord Pleanála need to be “urgently” dealt with as he claimed it is holding up development around the country, including rail infrastructure in his own county.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times