Wednesday 22 January 2020

Standing ovations as the young leave the country

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, centre, gets a huge round of applause as he is introduced at the Fianna Fail Ard
Fheis at the weekend in the RDS, Dublin
Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, centre, gets a huge round of applause as he is introduced at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis at the weekend in the RDS, Dublin

Fianna Fail was the main party in nearly all governments for the last 80 years. It was the largest single party in the country. It had leaders and Taoisigh, each with their own ideas and talents.



They had their successes and failures. On a human level, I did have sympathy for their last leader Brian Cowen – chosen as Taoiseach by FF without a leadership contest – especially after the ‘Morning Ireland’ radio interview he gave in late 2010, for which he got a roasting from the media.

But it just went on and on as he did not look comfortable as Taoiseach and, in my opinion, seemed to be overwhelmed by the job.

One of his FF colleagues said he had tried to believe in him, but even with a general election looming, the FF electoral machine, renowned in the past, was spluttering. It therefore angered me to see the FF delegates at last week's ard fheis give him a standing ovation.

It didn't make sense to me, and in a few weeks’ time, depending on the soon-to-be-published Mahon Report, Fianna Fail may expel one of its most successful members, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

It seems the best political careers are doomed to end badly. Take another former FF leader as an example, Corkman Jack Lynch. Mr Lynch was seen, I think, as a civilised man with a gentlemanly demeanour. Even those who voted Fine Gael liked him.

He managed to be a cool head, when some around him were losing theirs at the time of the 1970s arms crisis, and he guided the country and his party out of a very dangerous time.

Mr Lynch had said he would retire from politics in the late 1970s, but in the end, when FF felt he no longer had an electoral value, it was fairly ruthless in getting him out.

Contrast this with how ard fheis delegates could give a standing ovation to Mr Cowen who was twoand- a-half years as leader and Taoiseach.

And what would any one of those FF delegates say to the thousands queuing at the overseas jobs fair around the corner from the ard fheis? Do these FF delegates care about FF at all costs and the country second?

That, too, is why they were punished severely in the 2011 General Election. I think the FF delegates smiling and beaming at the ard fheis are in their own bubble.

How many of them are unemployed?

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