News John Drennan

Friday 19 September 2014

Fianna Fail more unforgiven than undead

The party didn't help its cause by raising so many political ghosts which it had hoped would stay buried

Published 25/05/2014 | 02:30

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Michael Martin with Mary Hanafin
Michael Martin with Mary Hanafin
Mary Hanafin
Mary Hanafin
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin

INTRIGUINGLY, one of the most shocking features for Fianna Fail TDs of their slightly desolate election campaign has been the rediscovery of the ongoing unforgiven status of the party.

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Of course, that might have been a lesser feature of the campaign had the party not raised so many political spooks from the past off its own bat.

Instead, the execrable "excuse me" dance with Mary Hanafin raised all of the political ghosts the Soldiers of Destiny had hoped to bury, by virtue of the less than inspirational policy of hiding in a corner being inoffensive to man, woman and beast.

The allied return of Brian Cowen to the electoral fray buried that particular hope as Fianna Fail instead was surrounded by references to the 'Dear Leader' Micheal Martin being stalked by the political undead.

This comparison, though understandable, is actually inaccurate – for undead creatures such as vampires and zombies have some capacity to frighten you.

In contrast, no one could be terrified of a political party that, when it comes to representing those who are no longer of this world, bears a closer resemblance to James Joyce's melancholic short story The Dead.

The bad news for Fianna Fail in that regard is that the central theme of Joyce's masterpiece is impotence.

And worse still, the impotence its central character Gabriel Conroy suffers is not just sexual, but, also moral, spiritual and imaginative.

Like Fianna Fail, Conroy is also obsessed by the past, by the lost love of his wife and his inability to reclaim that love.

Despite desperate attempts to reinvent itself, Fianna Fail is surrounded by a similar deathly nostalgia.

When it comes to comparisons with the undead, the party claims defiantly that at least it did not, as its many real and imagined enemies claim, die in 2011.

That, however, is the best that can be said, for it is hardly yet fully alive.

And there is scant evidence of a recovery to be found within a party which claims it is trying to exorcise the "nightmare of history", but, as the Mary Hanafin and Sean Power furores display, it is too insecure in itself to make that final break.

The consequence of that inability to date has consisted of a mix of inertia and impotence.

Rather like the central character in The Dead, who ends up standing alone looking out at a chilly landscape, the timorous inability of Fianna Fail to escape from the past means that, for this most critical election of all, the party found itself still standing at a window in the ante-room of political death, looking enviously, and part hopefully, into the living world it is unable to join.

Sunday Independent

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