Current Affairs Politics

Fianna Fáil, A Party Without A Cause

Fianna Fáil, back from the dead ( (Photo: Séamas Ó Sionnaigh, Binn Éadair, Cúige Laighean, Éire, Meitheamh 2012)
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil, not back from the dead. Binn Éadair, Cúige Laighean, Éire, Meitheamh 2012 (Íomhá: ASF)

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.

More here.

5 comments on “Fianna Fáil, A Party Without A Cause

  1. john cronin

    Fianna Fail were and are, without doubt, the most corrupt party in western Europe – with the possible exception of Italy. Mo matter how talentless you were, if Pa was an FF TD you did all right. How Sean Haughey can even show his face in public, let alone stand for office, I just do not know. If Pearse and Connolly could come back a century later and see him out canvassing, they might think, well maybe we should have stayed at home that weekend.


    • “Fianna Fail were and are, without doubt, the most corrupt party in western Europe..”
      Do the Words Mark Thatcher. BaE. Matrix Churchill. Public-interest immunity Cash for questions..Cash for Honours ( Blair and the Welsh Wizard ) the serious Fraud Office (SFO ) and BaE/Saudi Arabia.
      Doggy Dossier..15 minute warning..WMD…Cyprus… Diplock Courts..
      Jonathan Aitken.. Sword of Truth…LMAO …David Mellor…Cecil parkinson…Neil Hamilton..

      I for one am glad Pearse didn’t stay at home that weekend.
      i wouldn’t want Ireland sucked into the above swamp.


    • John, I certainly believe that FF was rife with nepotism, cronyism and favouritism throughout the last 50 odd years. I also believe there was a great deal of criminal corruption and malfeasance in its ranks for a number of decades, principally at the top of the organisation. However it certainly wasn’t the “most corrupt party in western Europe”, or anywhere close. Irish politics were too parochial and small-scale to compete on the levels seen in Spain, Italy, Greece, etc. And that includes the UK, duck-ponds and all. The one exclusion, possibly, is CJH. He had the pretensions to operate at the same level as the Europols, corruption included.

      FF defenders are advocating that in order to succeed the party must capture the “middle ground”. By which they mean the centre-right. However that is FG’s territory. So one is left to conclude – why not simply merge both and create Fine Fáil or Fianna Gael?


  2. eileen healy

    Thankfully there’s a large category of politics which is “local” and which addresses local needs within a national and international framework but there’s another category of “local” which encompasses the nepotism, cronyism , favouritism etc. and is not confined to any party or confined to politics for that matter ,.A feature of this consists of one individual doing favours for a friend, colleague or relative with the implicit understanding that the act was accomplished by the exceptional talents and resources of that person who left the recipient with a sense of indebtedness that one could never repay
    There still exists in our psyche a certain need to “get one over”on authority,law and government which carries over to work practices , politics and our attitude s towards many aspects of our lives including a sort of well exhausted, post colonial whinge about e.g. our own language
    We have a strong and rich cultural of our own,well documented information which has never been easier to access but we have been aping our nearest neighbours and past oppressors in a Stockholm Syndrome fashion. Many aspects of public life, education, healthcare, broadcasting and the type of literature we are exposed to are almost mirror images of those in Britain
    It’s “good to talk” and whinge but let’s use some of it in a fashion that addresses the issue where we can. Vote, Vote Vote and then when the elected are not showing signs of delivering on their policies the Electorate(don’t think one should claim to be part of this unless you use your vote) should address the politicians while they are in the privileged position to deal with it. Personally I think that the politicians who foul up badly should be contracted to help clean up the mess they created by the newly formed government.A bit Draconian!Maybe.
    Avril Doyle has her points and she has taken a stand. There is a lot wrong with the party but I disagree that their approach to the referendum symbolises everything that is wrong with the party The issue with Fianna Fâil as I see it a present is that it isn’t representing very many and could easily devolve before it’s reincarnated and that as the title of the article states it’s a party without a cause and Mícheâl Martin will be a Rebel without a Cause .His membership of FF aside I happen to think that he is a good politician and as a former health worker I would like to remind everyone that he oversaw vthe implementation of the ban on smoking in public places etc, If he never accomplished anything else I’m grateful for that. It was no mean achievement especially when one remember that Vintners Association who were biggest objectors consisted of many Publican/politicians from all parties. They didn’t lose out and many used their influence and privilege in creating “outdoor seating” by appropriating public walk ways and foot paths which in turn afforded the likes of Diagio another platform for advertising . Remember as a nation we took a lead with that smoking ban, we have just taken a lead last Friday .

    Look what can happen when people turn out to vote !I’m not a Mícheá Martin groupie but he is one of a very few politicians who seems to have a decent command of the Irish language and is willing to use it Some other few have a decent grasp but would only use it “when required” The idea of a national identity encompassing and partly built on our language and culture appeals to me greatly and I think that some of the attitudes towards it stem from a sort of gap in our personal and national identities This theme is well articulated in Irish and in English by Prof Peadar Kirby

    Again I have not arrived at my original destination but taken an unscheduled tangential trip


  3. eileen healy

    Apologies for the error of citing AvrilDoyle instead of Avril Power


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