Irish Republican News · August 9, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
End of ‘civil war politics’ predicted


Former Fianna Fail deputy leader Mary O’Rourke says it is time for her party and Fine Gael to seriously consider going into Coalition with each other.

Ireland’s two main conservative parties have alternated in power since the foundation of state, occasionally with the support of various small coalition partners.

The two parties, which began their lives as civil war opponents, derive their support from the ‘parish-pump’ tradition of clientelist populism, and have similar social policies and an identical pro-austerity economic agenda.

Fianna Fail was normally the larger party until its spectacular collapse in the aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis and the loss of economic sovereignty to the IMF and the European Union.

Fine Gael’s support increased dramatically at the last general election but has since ebbed slowly. Its traditional coalition partners, the Irish Labour Party, has lost almost all its support to Sinn Fein and more radical left-wing groups and independents.

If poll trends continue, none of the traditional coalition government options would be available after the next election, and some kind of new departure will be required.

In a significant speech in Clogher, County Tyrone, this week, Ms O’Rourke said “that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael would bridge the political divide between them and give serious thought to coming together in a political coalition come the next general election”.

Ms O’Rourke was a Cabinet minister in numerous government departments. Her family, the Lenihans, have long been a significant force in Fianna Fail.

Her father Patrick Lenihan, brother, and nephews were all Fianna Fail TDs, with her brother Brian Tanaiste and his son Brian junior the former Minister for Feinance. Another son, Conor, was a junior minister.

But in fact, Patrick Lenihan ran as a Fine Gael candidate before running as a Fianna Fail candidate.

Brian Lenihan Jr. addressed gave the annual Michael Collins commemoration in Beal na mBlath in 2010, traditionally considered a Fine Gael event.

“Here we are now in 2013 and here I am too, somebody who was in successive General Elections elected on behalf of the Fianna Fail Party and proudly representing my constituency of Longford/Westmeath,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“And yet and yet surely it is not too fanciful for me to put forward today as the theme of this summer school that it is time that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael would bridge the political divide between them and give serious thought to coming together in a political coalition come the next general election.”

Ms O’Rourke also said she had sent an advance copy of her speech to Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.

Responding to the comments, Sinn Fein Cork North Central TD, Jonathan O’Brien said that such a coalition would be logical, but if elected, such a government would be a “disaster” for working people.

“It is good to see such a very experienced politician as Mary O’Rourke calling it like it is: there is no difference at all between the social and economic policies of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael,” he said.

“While she may think that unity of the two parties would be good, it would be a disaster for working people to see such a party in government.

“They are both parties which favour protecting the banks and big business and imposing vicious austerity policies on working people.

“However, if they joined up it might put a stop to the carry-on in the Dil where they pretend to disagree with each other to get a headline or sound byte when they are really on the same side when it comes to making people who cannot afford it bear the burden of the economic crisis.”

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© 2013 Irish Republican News