Thursday 14 December 2017

Diarmaid Ferriter: Martin needs to go back to basics and emulate Lemass

Diarmaid Ferriter

IN 1954, Sean Lemass found himself doing something he had not done in decades. He was back on the road, touring the constituencies, mobilising the Fianna Fail troops and organising the party branches to ensure no stone was left unturned in the quest to get the party back into power.

As a party, Fianna Fail was not used to being in opposition; it had held power from 1932-48, suffered a defeat that left it reeling in 1948 when it was replaced by the first coalition government, and after returning to power from 1951-4 was now facing another spell in opposition. Lemass had been among those deeply shocked by the defeat in 1948 and in 1954, once again, there was a degree of bewilderment, but Lemass was in a position to do something about it, having been appointed to the crucial position of director of organisation, a post he held until 1957.

In June 1956, he wrote to a colleague: "It may not be too long until we will have the chance of rallying people to Fianna Fail again."

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