Thursday 8 December 2016

FF leader warns over 'superficial' Civil War comparison

Published 11/04/2016 | 02:30

Seamus Hanafin of Tipperary County Council, Micheál Martin and Independent TD Mattie McGrath at the General Liam Lynch ceremony in Tipperary yesterday Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Seamus Hanafin of Tipperary County Council, Micheál Martin and Independent TD Mattie McGrath at the General Liam Lynch ceremony in Tipperary yesterday Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said that comparing today's political divisions to the Civil War is "superficial and dismissive".

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Mr Martin, speaking at the General Liam Lynch commemoration in Newcastle, Co Tipperary, warned that Ireland was again at an important point in its history and such simplistic criticisms were not helpful.

"To try to dismiss divisions of today as 'Civil War politics' is superficial and dismissive," he said.

"It misses vital differences between parties in the last nine decades. It brushes away the often dramatic changes in patterns of political support in that time and is a convenient way of refusing to engage with substantive points."

The Cork TD explained that he categorically ruled out a partnership government with Fine Gael for very good reasons.

"I was asked repeatedly what would I do if the only majority government which could be formed was a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil government. I said we would not join such a government for a number of reasons.

"We have seen in recent years that strong majority governments can be arrogant, divisive and unfair.

"I also said that the policy differences between our parties are too large for them to be bridged in a programme for government which would retain popular legitimacy."

Mr Martin, to applause from the large crowd that braved inclement conditions to attend the ceremony, rejected suggestions that Fianna Fáil was somehow tied to the past.

"Fianna Fáil is not a 'Civil War party'. We honour the men and women who opposed the Treaty as people who represent a tradition which has given our country many positive things, and they were central to our foundation.

"But Fianna Fáil was founded by people who were very specifically committed to moving on from the Civil War.

"The programme they developed and which so rapidly won the trust of the Irish people was a radical one based on social, economic and constitutional reform."

Mr Martin said it was incorrect and simplistic to say a party with 20,000 members and the support of 500,000 voters is rooted in events dating back a century.

He added that minority governments, despite what some may claim, can and do work.

"They can work if people are willing to try - and they represent a much truer reflection of the need to change our politics than simply [changing] titles.

"Three out of the four Scandinavian countries currently have minority governments."

Irish Independent

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