Fianna Fáil Limerick mayor candidate said Martin unfit to lead, unclear when she changed her mind

Fianna Fáil’s recently nominated candidate for Limerick mayor said that tánaiste Micheál Martin is unfit to lead, The Ditch can reveal.

Dee Ryan claimed on social media that Martin lacked leadership, used strategic aggression in a debate to dodge criticism and that Fianna Fáil was best suited to parliamentary opposition.

“EK [then head of Fine Gael Enda Kenny] had facts & figures at fingertips & was #rockofsense M.Martin sooo #notaleader,” she posted on X, referring to Martin’s performance in a televised debate before the 2016 general election. This was one of multiple posts that slated Fianna Fáil and Martin.

The Ditch has contacted Ryan to clarify whether she meant Martin was unfit to lead Ireland or merely his own party. 

‘Attack b4 being forced 2 defend!’

On Tuesday tánaiste Micheál Martin posted on X that he was “delighted” to join Dee Ryan at Fianna Fáil’s selection convention. It was here that the party officially chose her as its candidate for the directly elected mayor race scheduled to take place in Limerick this June alongside the European elections.

“Dee has a wealth of experience in working for both Limerick city and county and will be an excellent candidate,” Martin said of his party colleague, having posed for photos with Ryan, Willie O'Dea and Niall Collins.

Dee Ryan with party colleagues Micheál Martin, Willie O'Dea and Niall Collins

Ryan however hasn’t echoed Martin’s praise on her social media accounts. In 2016 she didn't just doubt Martin's leadership skills – she accused him of employing an overly combative debating style in a bid to dodge criticism. 

“MMs strategy (was) clearly attack b4 being forced 2 defend!” Ryan said, discussing his performance in a televised debate. 

Other posts highlighted the number of jobs lost toward the end of Fianna Fáil’s tenure in government from 1997 until 2011, as well as the thousands of people who left Ireland as a result. These figures, according to Ryan, stood at 300,000 jobs and 1,000 emigrants per week. 

Ryan this week announced she was leaving her role as Limerick Chamber CEO, which she held since 2018, to focus on the race for Limerick mayor. It is unclear when she changed her mind about Fianna Fáil, which she previously said belonged in opposition, not government.  

“More Barry Cowen criticising Govt work cleaning up #FiannaFail mess. Its easier to criticise than find solutions, opp suits FF,” she wrote on X in May 2017.  

Ryan also appeared frustrated with her current party’s inability to affect positive social change in the run-up to the referendum to remove the eighth amendment from the constitution.

In reference to a poll that found that 87 percent of respondents supported more abortion services being made available in Ireland, she criticised Fianna Fáil's conservatism on the issue.

 “We always knew FF wudnt support change,” she said.

Ryan and the Fianna Fáil press office have been contacted for comment. 

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors