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Lucinda Creighton at the launch of her new political party at the Marker hotel

Lucinda Creighton at the launch of her new political party at the Marker hotel

Lucinda Creighton at the launch of her new political party at the Marker hotel

Lucinda Creighton has just done something really amazing.

By signalling her intention to form a new political party. she has dramatically increased Fianna Fail's chances of leading the next government.

When Lucinda called for Ireland to "reboot", putting Micheal Martin (below) in the Taoiseach's office was presumably not what she had in mind.

But history shows that this could be what her initiative ultimately achieves.

Nobody is more aware of this than Martin himself. In his first interview of 2015, the Fianna Fail leader threw caution to the wind and sounded a much more confident note.

Just four years after the Soldiers of Destiny's election meltdown, he claims that they can become the Dail's biggest party again.

Why is Martin suddenly so upbeat? After all, Fianna Fail's poll ratings are still hovering just a few points above the humiliating 17pc that they won in 2011.

The party's policies are desperately vague, while some of its TDs are so anonymous that their own families must struggle to recognise them.

Martin, however, has luck on his side. With the Government's popularity in freefall and party support becoming more fragmented, Fianna Fail could actually win the next general election just by standing still.

scrapheap

They might just turn out to be the sleeping giants of Irish politics, silent now, but poised to come back to life.

This is where Lucinda Creighton's new party comes in. No matter how much she hates the label 'right-wing', it seems clear that Reboot Ireland will be fundamentally based on conservative economic policies.

Logically, therefore, it should take more votes from Fine Gael than anyone else and dump some of Lucinda's former colleagues on the scrapheap, maybe even Enda Kenny himself.

In other words, Reboot Ireland could turn out to be Fianna Fail's biggest secret weapon since the Progressive Democrats.

The PDs began life 30 years ago this month, led by ex-FFers such as Des O'Malley and Mary Harney who were fed up with Charlie Haughey's ruthless leadership.

Before long, however, it became clear that their pro-business stance was sucking support away from Fine Gael and O'Malley felt obliged to get into a coalition bed with his old bogeyman.

Most people watching the new RTE drama Charlie will know what happened next. During the PDs' 24-year history, there were six general elections.

Fianna Fail won power every single time, often propped up by the party that was supposed to put them out of business.

So could Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Tanaiste Lucinda Creighton be running the country this time next year? An awful lot of horse-trading lies between now and then.

Even the fact that this is a valid question, however, shows just how rapidly our political landscape is changing, and why the old rules simply do not apply any more.

Martin is certainly entitled to give himself a small pat on the back. When he took over from Brian Cowen, Fianna Fail were so despised that the party's survival looked to be in serious doubt.

At the local elections last May, Fianna Fail surprised even themselves by winning more seats than any other party. This has left them with a crop of young new councillors who should become Dail candidates in the months ahead.

brutal

As Bertie Ahern has scornfully pointed out, their position in Dublin is still "fairly brutal", but the Government's collapse could allow them to pick up seats.

Of course, Martin has a potentially fatal weakness as well. Many voters will never forgive him for being part of the cabinet that drove our economy over a cliff. As he gears up for election debates with hapless Enda Kenny and sinister Gerry Adams, however, Oscar Wilde's old epigram comes to mind - "A man cannot be too careful in his choice of enemies."

Irish politics is so volatile right now that almost anything could happen in 2015. One prediction, however, looks pretty safe.

If Micheal Martin is the next Taoiseach, then few people will deserve his thanks more than Lucinda Creighton - and a rebooted Ireland will look surprisingly like the old one.


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