Irish Republican News · August 27, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Right wing convergence seen at Beal na mBlath

An address to the Michael Collins commemoration in County Cork by Fianna Fail’s Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan has led to considerable discussion about the end of ‘civil war politics’ and a potential realignment in Irish politics.

In August 1922, Collins, following the War of Independence and leader of the nascent 26-County government’ army, was gunned down by forces opposed to the Treaty with England, led by Eamon de Valera.

Last weekend’s adress by a senior figure in the party formed by De Valera at a location revered by Fine Gael supporters -- who claim Collins as an inspiration -- was seen as a historically significant departure.

Beforehand, Fine Gael senator Liam Twomey had warned that Lenihan -- whose predecessors he said had “murdered” Collins - wasn’t welcome. Young Fine Gaelers, too, said they would boycott the occasion in protest at the Minister’s appearance.

But it was greeted in Cork by spontaneous and sustained ripples of applause, and reporters afterwards declared that a symbolic burying of old hatchets had taken place.

Helen Collins, Collins’s grandniece, said: “Michael belongs to all the people of Ireland and beyond.”

The event was held amid rumors that discussions have taken place on a possible coalition between Fine Gael and a (much smaller) Fianna Fail party following the next general election. The alliance or merger is also said to be strongly backed by a wealthy elite of developers to keep out the left wing parties, which could challenge their privileged position.

Sinn Fein’s Aengus O Snodaigh said such an arrangement would be a natural marriage of two right wing party’s, with very little policy differences.

The Dublin South Central TD said if an alliance were to happen politics in Ireland would finally fall down on a more usual left-versus-right axis and the people would be given a “clear choice” at election time.

“For too long now power in Ireland has been passed back and forward from one right wing party to another on the pretence that one is different to the other,” said Deputy O Snodaigh.

“The fact that both of these parties are the two major parties in the South has led to a situation where the electorate see smaller parties as simply a prop for one or other of Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.

“A coalition of these two parties would be a natural marriage of two right wing parties with very little policy difference and would finally herald a new dawning in Irish politics where we would have a real left versus right axis and people would be given a clear choice at election time.

“It would also show the folly of the Labour Party moving to the right in order to snuggle up to Fine Gael. Eamon Gilmore would be better using his time to build left wing politics than to prop up a right wing government.”

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