Friday 23 August 2019

Forced departure is a body blow to party facing many obstacles

Pat Carey
Pat Carey
John Downing

John Downing

It has been a strange and troubled few days behind the scenes in Irish politics generally - and Fianna Fáil in particular.

So we must stand back a little if we are to make sense of events which of necessity were mainly shrouded in secrecy.

At the centre of it all is Pat Carey, a Fianna Fáil activist for much of his adult life, and a popular elected representative in the north Dublin area since he was first elected to Dublin City Council 30 years ago, in 1985.

Mr Carey was a TD for Dublin North West from June 1997 until February 2011, when he lost his seat as part of his party's meltdown, and after serving in the Cabinet for part of the final year of that ill-starred administration.

Many people were not aware in the first place that Pat Carey was Fianna Fáil's national director of elections.

But today they will learn that he has resigned that position and from his membership of the entire organisation.

We must acknowledge Mr Carey has insisted that he does not himself know whether he is the person concerned in these reported allegations.

And he has also absolutely and unconditionally denied any impropriety during his many years as a school teacher and community activist.

Mr Carey has said he was distraught to read media comments attributed to investigating gardaí. He said his resignation is motivated by a desire to ensure that organisations with which he is involved continue their good work without any distraction or hindrance.

It is difficult to overstate the popularity of Pat Carey among all parties, and not just Fianna Fáil.

He is also extremely well liked and admired by the bulk of political journalists who know him.

Over his decades in politics he was known for his ability, honesty, kindness and good nature.

His recounting of his own loneliness and fear as a clandestine homosexual during the same-sex marriage debate earlier this year was a turning point in the campaign.

Micheál Martin's announcement barely a month ago that Mr Carey would be national director of elections was a clear effort by Fianna Fáil to capture some of the "Carey kudos".

It was also an effort to address the image deficit and perceived divisions within the party on policy matters which involve sexual mores.

Mr Carey's forced departure is a body blow to the party which is already facing many other organisational obstacles.

It will be compounded by personal upset of key party people who liked and trusted him.

But there is an acknowledgement within the Fianna Fáil ranks that he has made the best available decision in extremely bad circumstances.

Organisers will also be grateful that the decision came quickly.

For the rest, like everyone else, all the political parties must await the outcome of Garda investigations in a most sensitive and difficult case.

Irish Independent

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