Saturday 14 December 2019

FF is slowly but surely rising from the ashes of 2011 disaster

Fianna Fail

Fianna Fail candidate for Dublin Mary Fitzpatrick at the European Elections at the RDS Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Fianna Fail candidate for Dublin Mary Fitzpatrick at the European Elections at the RDS Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
John Downing

John Downing

HOW does Fianna Fail explain its way through the second-worst election result in its party's history?

It was the kind of result that would have party founders Eamon de Valera and Sean Lemass rotating, rather than spinning, in their venerable graves.

Well, if you're the battling director of elections, Timmy Dooley of Clare, you rely on words like "solid" and you lay great stress on the slough of despond from which your team was trying to emerge.

You quietly downplay the flukey element of a double win in Blackrock, Co Dublin, by Mary Hanafin and Kate Feeney, by glossing over a botched selection process and stressing that a win's a win, however you get there.

In short, you do what you can with a half-reasonable set of results. Then you get back to talking about building for the future.

As results struggled home yesterday, Fianna Fail's mid-term election 2014 tale began to take on a definite improving tone. The prospect of being the biggest party in the local councils gave it something to boast about.

And in fairness to the Soldiers of Destiny, given the vastly changed and continually changing world that is Irish politics right now, this was a very decent result.

There are some things party leader Micheal Martin and Fianna Fail HQ will definitely rue.

Their failure to find a brand name at the Leinster/northern end of the four-seat South European constituency, to pair with the political phenomenon of Brian Crowley, appeared set to gift a second seat to Fine Gael from very early on.


Their late call-up for Kieran Hartley of Waterford was the choice of a candidate with potential but in the wrong race at the wrong time.

Similarly, the straight job of collecting one seat out of four in Midlands-North-West should have been more deftly managed from the very outset.

The Dublin Euro candidate, Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick, looked rather like a long shot last night. It reminded the party of huge difficulties ahead, both in recruiting more women candidates and in rebuilding structures in Dublin.

But notwithstanding hostile noises from putative challenger John McGuinness of Kilkenny, Mr Martin looks set to be allowed to continue the fraught and difficult job of party rebuilding from the ashes of the February 2011 meltdown.

Fianna Fail remains a pale shadow of its recent self – but it is also very much alive.

Irish Independent Supplement

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