Fiach Kelly: How Fianna Fail are getting it right
A FEW months ago, when the Fianna Fail resurgence was still in its early stages, a cartoon from Stephen Byrne in this newspaper showed Micheal Martin dragging himself from the grave.
Nobody was really sure then if this movement was just a blip in the polls or if the party almost wiped out just two years ago was roaring back.
The Government, Sinn Fein and others shook their heads and wondered if people had goldfish memories.
And even though more polls showed Fianna Fail climb – some all the way past Fine Gael – there were still doubts whether this resurrection, for that's what it is, could be real.
The Meath East by-election has provided the answer, loud and clear.
Mr Martin has not only pulled himself and his party up from six feet under, he is planting Easter lillies on the grave.
The cartoon also had Gerry Adams looking on anxiously – he has even more to worry about now, particularly since the collapse in Labour support did not find its way into Sinn Fein hands.
That will reassure Fianna Fail that it can stave off Sinn Fein. Sources also claimed Fianna Fail is now attracting transfers, even from Sinn Fein, which is crucial. In February 2011, the party got clobbered on the way down because it was transfer repellant. From now on, it will be in the hunt for seats when its candidates are on the borderline in some constituencies.
Mr Martin also pointed to something else that would only be noticed by close observers. Fianna Fail has a wide selection of young, local area representatives picked to run in the local elections next year.
They will now see their party on the way back, and nothing will motivate these would-be councillors – and future general election candidates – more than building towards success.
They're back, there is no mistaking it now.