My family has been dwelling in Dublin city and its environs since the mid-1800s, part of the mass rural exodus to Ireland’s towns and cities in the wake of An Gorta Mór. In the earliest period, as far as one can tell, the Foxes/ Sionnacha existed amongst the capital’s urban working-classes. At the start of the 20th century they dwelt in a house around Monck Place, with my great-great-etc. grandfather, James Fox, working as a “smith’s labourer” in 1901, and a “coal factor” by 1911. With each new generation they bettered their socio-economic position, advancing in education and income, while migrating outwards to the leafy and decidedly middle-class suburbs of north and south county Dublin (not to mention an early Wicklow off-shoot). Their story is typical of most families who now regard themselves as “Dubs”; internally displaced persons becoming permanent residents after a century and more of births and marriages.
As such my folk have tended towards a vaguely left-of-centre style of republican politics. Since the 1920s that essentially made them a “Fianna Fáil family”. In my house Charlie Haughey was regarded with wary respect, though the Andrews clan of Dún Laoghaire were the real idols; except for my mother who was/is a “Lynch woman”. Of course that was the 1980s and ‘90s when FF had a substantive presence in the capital which it managed to balance with its otherwise far greater rural wing. These were the people who gave their third and fourth preference votes to Labour during general elections but who were otherwise counted amongst the legion of the rearguard. Of course all that has changed since the hubris of the Celtic Tiger and its downfall. Fianna Fáil’s vote in Dublin is now Sinn Féin’s – not even Labour’s – and that is reflected in the slow demise of local FF cumainn around the city and county. Increasingly the title of “Republican Party” is a moniker that belongs to SF, not the once dominant breakaway movement.
Related to this sea-change in electoral politics is the latest nail in Fianna Fáil’s Dublin coffin, as reported by the Journal:
“SENATOR AVERIL POWER has announced she is leaving Fianna Fáil.
She made the announcement this afternoon at Leinster House.
Power was elected to the Seanad in 2011, where she was the party’s spokesperson on education and skills.
She will serve out the remainder of her term as an independent Senator and said he has “no intention” of joining another political party.
Power was one of the favourites to be chosen as Fianna Fáil’s general election candidate in Dublin Bay North, where she would have faced competition from former minister Seán Haughey, and councillors Deirdre Heney and Tom Brabazon.
The senator has clashed with party leader Micheál Martin in the past over the lack of female representation in Fianna Fáil.
The senator was particularly active in campaigning for a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum.
She said the Fianna Fáil’s approach to the referendum was cowardly and cynical, and symbolises “everything that is wrong with the party”.”
As a former FF voter myself, once upon time, everything that is wrong with the party has been there since the 1970s and well before that. We were just too inculcated through family custom and tradition to see it. As for Averil Power herself, I doubt this is the last we shall see of her political career. As the saying goes, beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach.