Current Affairs Politics

Sinn Féin And Fianna Fáil 2016

Fianna Fáil, back from the dead ( (Photo: Séamas Ó Sionnaigh, Binn Éadair, Cúige Laighean, Éire, Meitheamh 2012)


Éamon Ó Cuív, Fianna Fáil
Éamon Ó Cuív TD, Fianna Fáil


Today’s Irish Times Ipsos MRBI poll makes for some interesting reading, not least with the dramatic surge in support for the category of Independents and Others (the latter term covering several small parties who are unfairly clumped together by the pollsters and news media, a common practice which actively weighs against such parties in terms of garnering publicity and potential voters). The main parties currently stand at:

Sinn Féin: 22% (-2%)

Fianna Fáil: 21% (+1%)

Fine Gael: 19% (-5%)

Labour: 6% (-3%)

Independents and Other Parties: 32% (+9%)

While the two top places lie within the margin of error the rest are either well down (FG and Lab) or well up (Indos and Others). World by Storm does his usual excellent job of analysing all this over on CLR but in a related note I was struck by this interesting response to the metropolitan elites from the anonymous Insider, a regular columnist for the Galway Advertiser.

“The national media is putting pressure on the two great Civil War parties to call a truce following the next general election so that an historic Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil government can be formed. This would-be Fianna Gael coalition – political commentators argue – is essential if the State is not to fall into the clutches of Gerry ‘Grizzly’ Adams.

The argument being made for such a coalition is that there is essentially no difference between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, both being centre right parties. However, Insider is sorry to disappoint our betters in the Dublin 4 media, but there is a sizeable percentage of Fianna Fáil grassroots supporters who would oppose such a development.

After the decimation of the Irish economy there has been quite considerable soul searching among the soldiers of destiny. Many of those who remained within the party realised the fault for the boom and bust lay at their door. The basic problem was the leadership blindly followed the “greed is good” economic policies of the PDs. That soul searching has led many in the grassroots to conclude the party must return to the radical policies of de Valera’s Government of the 1930s.

Initially it seemed Micheál Martin was on the same wavelength as he began speaking of Fianna Fáil’s radical roots from the 1920s and 1930s. However, as his performances, and those of his frontbench in the Dáil, have shown, the parliamentary party leadership is actually no different than Bertie’s gang.

It appears to Insider and to many within the FF grassroots, that these leaders have only one thing in mind – power for power’s sake.

There is one serious exception – Éamon Ó Cuív.

…his non-stop work ethic is impressive. Plus, he seemed to be fuelled by a political ideal that put the Irish people at its heart, not the chancers, bankers and developers, that hovered around Fianna Fáil ministers in search of rich pickings. His politics were and are worlds away from the sleaze of the FF tent at the Galway Races and the so-called Celtic Tiger.

Indeed, in the context of the present push to have FF jump into a bed with Fine Gael, Dep Ó Cuív would be diametrically opposed. While he has not said it publicly, privately he admits having no difficulty going into government with Sinn Féin. In fact, Insider believes that would be his preferred option. It would also be the preferred choice of many grassroots members Insider has spoken to.

Yes, the IRA was involved in murder and mayhem, but so too were many of our grandparents and great-grandparents during the War of Independence. Most importantly SF has seen the errors of its ways and made its peace with the world – north and south of the border.

There is another important factor: in many ways Fianna Fáil bears a responsibility for the ‘Troubles’. The State, under FF’s stewardship, abandoned the Catholics of the Six Counties, not only in 1969, but decades before that. This is something not lost on members of the ‘Republican Party’. And that gut feeling of responsibility and the need to embrace Republicanism contrasts markedly with Fine Gael, which is pro-British to its core. As for the scurrilous nonsense about paedophiles in SF – everyone recognises it is a pathetic and vain attempt to deflect from the water tax scandal.

For many ordinary Fianna Fáil members, Dep Ó Cuív is the obvious man to take the reins of power within the party…”

The opinions above may be an outlier of party grass-roots opinion within FF but still, as I said, interesting…

5 comments on “Sinn Féin And Fianna Fáil 2016

  1. ar an sliabh

    Very thought-provoking analysis.


  2. Paul Culloty

    Indeed thought-provoking, but predicated on the false assumption that SF is a genuinely left-wing party – their record at Stormont demonstrates that they have few scruples in relation to austerity measures North of the Border, nor indeed in dealing out the limited sinecures from that Executive’s trough. Faced with grasping the nettle of a Southern coalition, red lines would soon be erased, and the viewpoint that all four major parties are as ideologically vacuous and self-serving as each other is the very reason that Independents lead the opinion polls.


    • Fair points, Paul, though I cannot imagine any scenario where Fine Gael and Sinn Féin would be in coalition. Labour, under the present leadership, would have to be excluded too. The only viable coalition partners for SF would be the parties and independents of the Left, and at a stretch Fianna Fáil. But the numbers are unlikely to be there for that (or even the willingness to do a deal). Personally I think the most likely scenario 2016 (2015?) is another FG-Lab coalition with independents included or supporting it. Or the flip of that but with FF replacing FG. An alliance of the big two, FF and FG, in power to keep out SF would be palatable to some at the top of both parties but would enrage many in the grass-roots. An FF minority administration with a rainbow coalition supported in An Dáil by SF seems to be one possibility. Though its lifespan would be severely limited.

      Are we facing Knesset-style politics for the next few years?


  3. john cronin

    “The radical policies of de Valera in the thirties” Que? Not sure if de Valera actually had an economic policy.


    • Self suffficency John, Which is what was happening in mainland Europe at the time.
      That was DeValeras policy. As much as I don’t like DeValera it quite possibly wasn’t easy to run a small economy on the fringes of Europe when a whole swathe of European countries were pursuing the “beggar thy neighbour ” policy of Autkary.or self sufficency.


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