Friday 24 November 2017

Instead of the in-fighting, Fianna Fáil should reach out

Cartoon by Niall O Loughlin
Cartoon by Niall O Loughlin
Mandy Johnston

Mandy Johnston

As delegates congregate this weekend at the 76th Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis in the RDS, they must decide on a convincing way forward for the party, which will address not only their future but also their past. To the uninitiated, a Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis must seem like attending a Scientologists' convention. For the "true believers" inside the conference, the set piece is perfectly logical, but to the non-believers on the outside, it makes no sense at all.

It is fair to say that to some of its members, Fianna Fáil is a religion of sorts, something they were simply born into. To outsiders it looks more like a cult. An incredulous fairy story without credibility that ultimately does more harm than good to its followers. In recent years, being a member of, or having any association with Fianna Fáil, has been akin to admitting some type of social disease, prompting reactions that swing between derision and pity.

As the election campaign inches ever closer, there are now only limited chances to arrest the party's national decline and this Ard Fheis needs to be less about the in-fighting and more about out-reaching. To their credit, Fianna Fáil spokespeople seem to have responded to the call to action from their grassroot members and they are at least proffering some policies which might appeal to the electorate once again.

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