Tuesday 20 March 2018

O'Rourke: we didn't think 2011 would be that bad

Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Former Fianna Fáil minister Mary O'Rourke says a "tsunami" descended on the party in the last election as it lost an unprecedented number of seats.

"The electorate were merciless. We all got our walking papers - me included," she said.

She admitted that party chiefs "did not think it was going to be as bad" as the final result.

However, Ms O'Rourke (pictured) has come to terms with the verdict of the voters.

"I felt I had a great run of it," she said.

Reflecting on her life in politics, she insisted that Charles Haughey was "a very good leader", despite all the controversies which surrounded his political career.

The former TD for Longford-Westmeath, referring to the former Taoiseach, said: "He gave me my chance.

"You don't forget those who gave you a break."

Despite being a political "rookie" at the time, she was appointed Minister for Education by Haughey, which was a job she loved.

Such was her enthusiasm for the work that she was usually first into the department each day at 7.30am.

Referring to the death from cancer of her nephew, Brian Lenihan, when he was Minister for Finance, she says she still gets "choked up" talking about him.

"We shared a lot together under the Leinster House roof," she added. Despite various political challenges and difficulties, "people kept great faith with Brian".

Ms O'Rourke pointed out that Christine Lagarde, who has played a pivotal role in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), described him in a book published in his memory as "a beacon in a dark night of economic crisis".

Ms O'Rourke, in the interview with the channel 'Irish TV', recalled her childhood and teenage years. She said she grew up in a house where the family "ate and drank politics".

In time, she went to boarding school, which she "hated", and at one point toyed with a journalistic career, rather than becoming a schoolteacher, then a TD.

Irish Independent

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