Martin invokes past to ensure future
Published 21/02/2011 | 05:00
MICHEAL Martin headed to the Fianna Fail heartland of Meath last night to deliver his appeal for grassroots voters to back the party.
"This is old Fianna Fail," local party TD Johnny Brady declared. Mr Brady's blood-vessel-bursting speech was not what would be expected of a party on the brink of disaster.
The latest opinion poll confirms Fianna Fail is heading fast toward the worst result in its history. Acknowledging the difficult position, Mr Martin made a direct appeal to the base in his speech in Navan.
The new party leader is already accepting comprehensive defeat in this general election and trying to ensure the party has enough of a foundation to build upon.
Mr Martin invoked the spirit of past figures who made a contribution to Fianna Fail and to the State: Countess Mar-kiewicz, Sean Lemass, Frank Aiken, Patrick Hillery, Donogh O'Malley and Jack Lynch.
But he tellingly left out the legacy of Charlie Haughey, Bertie Ahern, Ray Burke, Charlie McCreevy and Brian Cowen.
Mr Martin's efforts to draw a line under aspects of its past won't wash with voters in this election. He is just hoping it does enough to help the party survive.
The latest poll putting the party on just 16pc shows why he needs to mobilise the Fianna Fail vote. Only one-in-three people who voted Fianna Fail last time is supporting the party.
Dr James Reilly was less than rabble rousing at Fine Gael's rally at the Aviva Stadium. But the party was being deliberately cautious in its approach to the final stages of this campaign.
The parallels with Neil Kinnock's disastrous performance at the British Labour Party conference in Sheffield in 1992 would have been obvious if Enda Kenny had behaved in a triumphalist manner.
"We're asking you for your vote, your confidence, your mandate, your trust. If you honour us, I guarantee you, we will deliver," he said. The polls put Fine Gael just short of forming an overall majority, on 37pc, with the momentum still behind Mr Kenny.
Fine Gael will reverse roles with Fianna Fail from 2002, but the Civil War parties are not gone yet.