Wednesday 17 July 2019

O'Herlihy to back FG/FF alliance at Collins oration

Ralph Riegel

VETERAN broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy will use the landmark General Michael Collins oration to propose a strategic alliance between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

The RTE presenter and Cork native will deliver the General Collins oration at Beal na mBlath next Sunday, August 25, to mark the 91st anniversary of the IRA commander's death in a Civil War ambush.

Mr O'Herlihy, pictured, has remained tight-lipped about the precise content of his speech – but spoke out earlier this year about his desire to see greater co-operation between the two main centre-right parties here.

"I would love to see a situation where Fine Gael and Fianna Fail got together . . . (but) I am not sure either party would be the slightest bit interested," he said last February.

Mr O'Herlihy, a long-time Fine Gael supporter, boasts close links with the party hierarchy and for many years acted as an adviser to former Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald.

In 2010, the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan became the first significant Fianna Fail figure to be asked to deliver the oration. Fine Gael hailed Mr Lenihan's speech as "a watershed" in the attitude towards General Collins and the embracing of his legacy by all Irish people. Mr Lenihan said that "the spirit of Michael Collins is the spirit of the nation".

Last year, Enda Kenny became the first serving Taoiseach to deliver the oration at Beal na mBlath.

Michael Collins was fatally shot on August 22, 1922, while en route to Bandon, west Cork. He was ambushed during an inspection tour of the county – 24 hours after he had visited the former Victoria Barracks in Cork city, which was renamed Collins Barracks in his honour.

Irish Independent

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