Sunday 4 December 2016

The badlands of opposition may yet be Martin's best bet

Gerard O’Regan

Published 19/12/2015 | 02:30

Micheál Martin. Photo: Mark Condren
Micheál Martin. Photo: Mark Condren

When Micheál Martin tiptoes down the stairs on Christmas morning to check out what a hopefully benevolent Santa Claus left under the tree, there is a particular book which might provide Fianna Fáil's top man with some timely Yuletide insights.

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'Stalingrad', written by the historian Anthony Beevor, recounts the titanic struggle between Hitler and the Soviet Union during World War II. One of its key insights is that it reminds us once again, how the German dictator made one of the great mistakes of all-out conflict. He couldn't bring himself to accept there are times when retreat is the best form of attack. Despite overwhelming evidence that his battle plan had come seriously unstuck, Hitler doggedly refused to face reality. Eventually, such obduracy made his demise inevitable.

Maybe there is some parallel between this lesson from the history pages and Martin and his front-bench generals, as they dither about which options might be open to them after the General Election. Of course, all will depend on the breakdown of the numbers. But one thing is certain. Regardless of how off the mark the opinion polls may be, Fianna Fáil will not get enough seats to form a government on its own.

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