[Michael Martin addressing the Fianna Fail Easter 1916 commemoration in the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin on Sunday]
The return of the old names.
Make it stop.
Eamon Delaney writes:
…Perhaps the people around them sing a different song: but they seem painfully unaware of the impact that those great Fianna Fail names have on voters elsewhere. Barry Cowen TD might say ‘I am not my brother’s keeper’ but the fact is that every time he appears on TV talking about the water charges, he is a living, breathing reminder of the worst Taoiseach in our history!
Likewise, Anita Lenihan, who is being considered for the Dublin seat vacated by her late brother, Brian. She may be a brilliant talent: but it is surely too early to be considering the introduction of another Lenihan, and a further association with the old regime. It may sound harsh, but politics is all about image and perception. The same goes for Sean Haughey. Apart from your tarnished name, what do have to offer that’s actually new and different? Why not give someone else a chance?
…The difficulty, of course is that the likes of Hanafin and O’Donoghue could always say ‘well, look at Willie O’Dea and Eamon O’Cuiv. Why shouldn’t I come back, when they are in the parliamentary party?’ They feel to see that, in national terms, Dev Og and Slick Willie could well be the very thing that’s holding the party back.
Equally, however, the wannabe returnees could say ‘look at the party leader himself, Michael Martin.He was there, at Bertie’s side, when the gleaming city of the boom was crumbling to dust. He campaigned vigorously for him in 2007, even when it was clear that Ahern and the truth were on different planets. He was a senior Cabinet member as Brian Cowen pushed us inexorably on the path of self-destruction: yet he wants credit for having bailed out at the last minute.
How can Martin tell his former Cabinet colleagues that the old FF figures are discredited – but then stay in the top job himself? And this is the really awkward one. For the reality is that it perhaps it is Martin himself who is holding the party back. Honourable and hardworking as he is, he is still, after three cathartic years, associated with ‘that time.’ And the party has now woken up to the fact that maybe its Martin who is keeping them from growing beyond 22%.
(Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)