Martin uses FG 'comeback' to rally TDs
Published 31/12/2011 | 05:00
MICHEAL Martin says he has used Fine Gael ministers Michael Noonan and Alan Shatter as proof to Fianna Fail colleagues that their careers are not over because of one bad general election.
The Fianna Fail leader also conceded it would take years for his party to regain credibility on economic issues after being severely punished in the general election. Following his party's wipeout, Mr Martin said he cited examples of Fine Gael ministers who bounced back from their party's 2002 general election disaster.
Mr Noonan led Fine Gael to that meltdown, when Mr Shatter lost his seat.
"I remember actually saying that to a number of deputies who lost their seats while I was going around the country.
"I pointed out four or five of the Fine Gael team, if you like, and some of the frontbench. You look at Alan Shatter and Michael Noonan and others, some of them actually lost their seats and are back in Cabinet," he said.
"It's very, very important that people keep that longer term perspective on politics." But Mr Martin accepted Fianna Fail still had a lot of work to do to restore confidence with the electorate. He said the eurozone crisis over the past six months had made the public take a broader view of the problems facing the economy.
"I am under no illusions that the journey is going to be a long one. Certainly I've been a bit surprised at the level of dissatisfaction with the Government nine months in.
"I didn't think it would be so rapid to be honest," he said. "I think it's still going to be a journey of time really. We have a lot of work to do to regain trust," he added. The former minister said Fianna Fail's recovery would come down to hard graft, as well as coming up with solutions and policies with substance. After its worst general election result, the party had stabilised this year, he said. "I think the mood of the party is much better than it was at the beginning (of the year)," he said.
"I think the turning point for us was the Dublin West by-election. I think that gave a significant fillip to the morale of the party, followed by the national youth conference, which was a great success.
"At one moment, it gave the signal that if you get your act together, get the right candidate profile, get the right campaign going, you can win a seat back in every Dublin constituency next time out -- if you do it right."