Sunday 27 May 2018

There's only one winner in Fianna Fail's election shambles – and it's not party HQ

Micheal Martin and Mary Hanafin
Micheal Martin and Mary Hanafin
Mandy Johnston

Mandy Johnston

Mary, Mary quite contrary how does your canvass go? The ongoing and embarrassing episode between former minister Mary Hanafin and Fianna Fail headquarters throws up questions for how a modern political party, dependent on renewal for survival, carries out the most fundamental task which party HQ is charged with – getting people elected.

Political party HQs in this country are sometimes seen as a sleepy backwater for policy formulation, number crunchers and book keepers. All of the serious political action and activity takes place in Leinster House and in Government Buildings; this physical remove from the powerbase can sometimes lead to a sense of detachment for the boys and girls in the mother ship who are often forgotten in the rough and tumble of daily political life.

But the role of party HQ is vitally important. None more so than in the run-up to and during an election campaign. Political parties put forward a set of policies to the electorate; HQ's task is in fulfilling policy implementation by getting candidates elected. Their job is to organise the party machine, keep it well oiled, and do their housekeeping in private.

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