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Fianna Fail ….Post Mahon April 3, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Fianna Fáil.
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At a recent family function, I was greeted with a gleeful “Well at least Bertie wasn’t corrupt!” from a Fianna Fail supporting relative in relation to the Mahon tribunal findings. The rest of the guests turned on him, mocked him and then quizzed him some more on his attitudes to the tribunal.
He thought Michael Martin was correct in moving to expel the various people with findings against them. “He has to be seen to take decisive action”.
Then we got the “They were all at it” line of defence followed by a critique of Enda Kenny and him still being seen with Denis O’Brien despite the Moriarty tribunal findings.
So that was it, this was nothing unique to Fianna Fail and Bertie was in effect innocent!
Funnily enough on the day before Noel Whelan had written a piece in the Irish Times “FF may shut up shop and seek to re-emerge later” which centred around The Mahon Tribunal findings and the future of Fianna Fail.
He wrote of a speech he gave at the McGill Summer School ..

The party, I suggested, might just wither, sitting out the presidential election, losing council seats in the next local election, and a few more seats in each of the next three or four general elections.

Second, I proffered that Fianna Fáil might just be subsumed into Fine Gael: a scenario that is more likely if Labour is on the Opposition benches, say after the next election.

Fianna Fáil might alternatively merge with Sinn Féin, a process that could begin as some kind of loose “popular front” type arrangement on transfers.

Finally I floated the possibility of a News of the World solution to Fianna Fáil’s plight: close up shop and seek, after a period, to re-emerge as part of some new entity.

Any of these scenarios seemed improbable last July but no more improbable than a Fianna Fáil collapse might have seemed four years ago.

All scenarios, and in particular the News of the World option, seem more probable after the Mahon findings.

There have been plenty of other Fianna Fail doom merchants about since also.

Then what comes out the other day only the first Poll taken post Mahon. A Red C Poll for Paddy Power and have Fianna Fail fallen off the face of the earth? Has it dented support?
Fianna Fail were on 15%.

A rogue poll was one suggestion…..
Then ask yourself why would Fianna Fail support fall much after Mahon?
Was there anything that we didn’t know? (by that I mean that certain people were crooked)
And I’m sure my relative wasn’t alone in Fianna Fail feeling vindicated by Bertie not being corrupt…. and sure wasn’t Michael Martin showing great leadership getting Bertie and co to resign.
Of course Swanning around with Denis O’Brien didn’t put Fine Gael or Labour in a particularly good light either.

Not a word about the way Willie O’Dea etc tried to undermine the tribunal.

Of Course the question now is can they break out of that 15% and actually grow to a Party of Power once again, because without a whiff of power they wont prosper. It’s a question I’d love the pollsters to ask, “Would you consider ever voting Fianna Fail?”. In other words how big is the ABFF vote.

Renewal is the current buzzword as they look back at the founding aims of the party.
One of the main paths to renewal in Fianna Fail has been that

“..at the next local elections, Fianna Fail would, where possible, field at least one candidate in every single local authority area under the age of 30.”

As we know one of the biggest problems for Fianna Fail is Dublin. I had a look too at the the 2009 Local elections (Where FF got over 24% of the vote , 17% in Dublin) and how first time Fianna Fail candidates got on.
In 2009 between the various Dublin Councils there were 5 first time candidates elected for Fianna Fail out of 31. (They ran 60 candidates).
Of the five, one was Aoife Brennan, daughter of the late Seamus Brennan TD.
Two were sitting councillors Eoghan O’Brien (co opted to replace his brother Daragh O’Brien) and Daragh Butler with the
other two being David McGuinness and Eamon Walsh. Not a particularly high success rate.

Trying that tactic from a far lower base is very risky and they did make a mess of their 2009 Local Elections campaign in Dublin.

Comments»

1. EWI - April 3, 2012

I don’t think that there’s much if any remaining Republican ideological drive at the ‘people that matter’ level for it to survive such a beating. The past twenty years have just been the party machine self-perpetuating, as party machines do. The Press Group was allowed to fold without a wimper; I have a hard time believing that the party itself has the bedrock to survive and be re-born. I can see a number of splinter parties forming off it (or joining various existing parties).

I don’t see a FF-SF merger. Why would SF agree to such a thing, rather than contenting themselves with picking off FFF defectors? Why would they risk a split?

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WorldbyStorm - April 3, 2012

I think that’s right EWI about Whelan’s prognosis. There’s no percentage for SF in merging with FF. Quite the opposite. They may want to occupy FF’s former ground, but not as FF, even in part. Even for FG that’s a big ask, though I guess if FFers went over en masse to just join FG that’d be different, thought hard to see that they’d necessarily want to.

I think IELB’s point re 15 per cent is very very interesting. I was surprised it hadn’t fallen after Mahon, but sure if one was to stick with FF through the 2007 to 2011 period why not post Mahon?

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EWI - April 3, 2012

Even for FG that’s a big ask, though I guess if FFers went over en masse to just join FG that’d be different, thought hard to see that they’d necessarily want to.

The “entrepeneur” types in FF (everyone here can think of names, I imagine) will have no difficulty at all in transferring to where the patronage network now is; that’s why they were so interested in FF in the first place.

Traditional FF Republican types like myself have little or no place in the party, and are as welcome as the plague (even more so because I’m of the ‘lefty’ wing). I came fully to this realisation more than a decade ago and therefore left.

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2. Laurence o'Toole - April 3, 2012

They will survive but long term it will be continuous decline. They are going to be faced in 2014 with a stronger SF and ULA, probably an increase in indo’s as well. FG/Lab voters transferring to each other.

They need to have an increase in cllr’s but that is not going to happen. They did well in transfers in 2009 and that will never happen again. They are transfer repellent, they have a large no. of people retiring at that stage, so lot of personal vote being lost.

FF’s has been loosing support slowly for 20 years, last Feb. was just a jump in that. The trend continues.

I see FF being down at least 100 seats in the next locals and SF being up a hundred as well. That will define the narrative, even if it is a good result for FF in % it will mark another step down, hard to turn around a long term trend.

SF have been increasing the political focus for over 25 years, that is why they are on the up. FF have that long term momentum in the opposite direction.

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3. Workers Issues | Irish Free Press - April 3, 2012

[…] Fianna Fail ?.Post Mahon 09:57 Tue Apr 03, 2012 | irishelectionliterature […]

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4. gfmurphy101 - April 3, 2012

FF is doomed, not because of their level of support, but because they won’t be able to attract decent candidates. Once FF held out a great career path for candidates, but that is long gone and I can’t see em getting a sniff of power for 2 more elections, the cute hoors won’t waste their time if they can’t see immediate reward, it was what always spurred the yokes on !

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Michael Carley - April 3, 2012

So they’re ripe for takeover by a Blair figure: FF Nua?

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Dr. X - April 4, 2012

Declan Ganley is no doubt humming “tomorrow belongs to me” even as we speak.

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EamonnCork - April 4, 2012

Who are these decent candidates you speak of? Surely one of the reasons FF is in the trouble it’s in at the moment is because the party’s almost total monopoly on power meant they were the choice of every power hungry chancer who wanted to make a quick buck.
As regards Blair figures, the young guns most often mentioned are Calleary, which makes no sense as he’s in FG ruled Mayo next to Kenny, McGrath, who’ll hardly stab his senior constituency colleague in the back and Averil Power, who being young, female and Dublin based ticks all the right boxes and is a good media performer but can’t get elected to the Dail. They’re stuck. People look at Martin and think of the 2007-2011 cabinet. He’s their Ian Duncan Smith.
There’ll be no SF merger but I wonder now if FF regret the fact that for the past five years they spent more time sticking it to SF than to FG and Labour combined. It was lot of enerry expended on winning a few marginal seats in Dublin that they lost in the end anyway.

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5. irishelectionliterature - April 4, 2012

O’Cuiv is very much doing his own thing at the minute, between the writings on his blog and his opposition to the Fiscal treaty he’s carving out a profile for himself that would have not previously been associated with him. I gather too that he’s been on a bit of a nationwide tour himself over the last while.
I see him as the only possibility of a feasible FF Nua , a party loyal to the aims of Fianna Fails founding fathers. It’s one of course that couldn’t be the catch all party FF was.

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Laurence o'Toole - April 4, 2012

There is a place for a party like that, they would only be a 5-10 TD at best but they would add in the bulwark against FG varadkar types and they would also help ensure that national questions would not alone become the provenance of one party – SF, but would be broader in scope. I don’t want those issues written off by others as just part of an SF platform.

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6. Dr. X - April 4, 2012

>>>every power hungry chancer who wanted to make a quick buck

So where will the power hungry chancers go now, that FF is no longer the royal road to the fulfilment of their dreams of avarice?

The younger ones are probably joining Young Fine Gael, but it will take a while for them to get through the system. . .

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EamonnCork - April 4, 2012

I seem to recall a couple of young FFers switching to SF when it looked as though the wind might be to SF’s back after the 2002 election before leaving the party after the disappointment of the 2007 election. FG is probably the wise move for the young chancer around town at the moment though.

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WorldbyStorm - April 4, 2012

Yeah, and for the foreseeable future.

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Dr. X - April 5, 2012

Another point re: the next destination of the chancers. Now that they’re no longer bottled up in FF, they will spread throughout all the political mainstream, and to SF too once that party joins the mainstream. So look forward to things getting even worse than they are.

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EWI - April 5, 2012

Mary Lou was a ‘switcher’, don’t forget.

(Actually, I believe that SF and Labour may be the only parties that one John McGuirk hasn’t joined yet)

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7. john.c - April 4, 2012

I believe the new presedent of USI is FF. They seem to attract the right power hungry chances in colleges anyway

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WorldbyStorm - April 4, 2012

Lovely to hear the reports today from the USI about doing away with Croke Park. 😦

I”m not much of a fan of CP, but I’m not keen on the way the discourse is being shaped in that regard.

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gerardmadden - April 4, 2012

UCD SU President Pat de Brun, while speaking against CP , called the Government ‘a slave to trade unions’. The less said…

At least the USI is now officially opposed to private schools. And the attempts by the leadership to bring it around to supporting a grad tax/student loan system have been kicked to touch.

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CMK - April 4, 2012

USI have shot themselves in the foot with that vote. Monumentally stupid. Alienating potential allies when there was nothing to be lost by keeping their mouths shut. ‘Sindo-think’ in action. Vindicates my belief that the coming generation, those 18-30, who have known nothing but neo-liberalism, will be willing wreckers of the welfare state and the gains won by struggle. And when they realise that the road to exhaustion, burnout, depression and alienation is paved with ‘entreprenuership’, ‘innovation’, ‘positivity’ etc, it’ll be too late. It will then be up to the next generation, today’s tots and toddlers, to win back those rights and try to re-create some semblance of decency. Probably too pessimistic, but nonetheless realistic.

You have to laugh, too, at the logic in their position. USI claim that 80% of the higher education budget goes on pay and only 20% on frontline services. They don’t seem to have stopped to consider who is providing the ‘front line service’ to them….

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WorldbyStorm - April 4, 2012

And whatis USI if not a union? The clue is in the name. Depressing stuff.

V. true re the ‘logic’.

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CMK - April 4, 2012

I suppose you can hardly blame them for taking such a stupid position. Those running the rest of the unions have made a virtue of of taking up indefensible stances since this crisis started, and before, and they don’t seem to have suffered for it. And, anyway, USI is only a springboard to better things….

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Dr. X - April 5, 2012

CMK – I try to tutor my nieces in the ways of left-wing righteousness, but I think in general your indictment of da yout’ is correct. . .

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8. Éamon Ó Cuív – Republican Dissident? « An Sionnach Fionn - April 30, 2012

[…] Fianna Fail ….Post Mahon (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]

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