Veteran often surprised colleagues
Published 01/03/2012 | 05:00
FIANNA Fail's Eamon O Cuiv has gone through a period of turmoil in the past month -- which began with the funeral of his mother and is ending with his resignation as deputy leader.
The funeral of Emer I Chuiv was seen as the end of an era -- given that she was the last surviving daughter of Eamon de Valera. But the De Valera link is going to be weakened even further if Mr O Cuiv is expelled from the Fianna Fail parliamentary party for opposing the EU fiscal stability treaty.
Back in 2001, he admitted he had voted against the first Nice Treaty referendum but faced down calls for him to be sacked as a junior minister. He went on to be promoted to minister for community, rural and Gaeltacht affairs.
His department took over the Dormant Accounts Fund in 2004 and was instantly given access to €685m which had been resting unclaimed in bank accounts. It led to him being nicknamed the "Secret Millionaire" by envious rivals.
Mr O Cuiv was lucky to escape with his life in 2004 when his ministerial car was hit by a tourist driving on the wrong side of the road in Kerry.
A fluent Irish speaker, he was the driving force behind the 20-year Irish language strategy and the Official Languages Act.
He has held his seat in Galway West since 1992 and, given this fact, many forget that he actually grew up in Ballsbridge in Dublin where his parents lived.
Mr O Cuiv decided to put his name forward for the Fianna Fail leadership contest last year. He surprised many by finishing in second place.
Of the small band of Fianna Fail TDs who returned after the near wipeout in the subsequent general election, he seemed the most comfortable with opposition politics. As far back as last August, he was threatening to go to jail over the septic tank charge.
But few realised that he would also start opposing his own party leader as well.