Rebellion through the Ballot-Box
Deaglán de Bréadún
I’ve spent the weekend in Louth, chronicling the success of G. Adams in the constituency and the Sinn Fein electoral performance in general. I don’t feel qualified just now to pronounce in any detail about the overall result of the general election except to say that whoever remarked on radio that this was rebellion through the ballot-box put it very well.
As a young fella, I recall that, by 1973, Fianna Fail had been in power for 16 straight years and this created a good deal of alienation. That was the period when the mohair-suit brigade developed and the fundraising wing, Taca, was set up.
FF was running the show, putting their own people onto State boards etc, etc. It was time for a change and that came with the general election that put FG and Labour in power.
Four short years later, Jack Lynch got the biggest-ever majority in FF’s history. Shows how things can change. Mind you, he wasn’t starting from as low a base as FF will be in future.
The demise of FF is astonishing in its extent. Is it just the economic crisis or are there other issues? The party’s moral capital has been seriously depleted by the various tribunal revelations and it needs to put clear blue water between itself and the “cronies” of yesteryear. It also needs to think again about its plan for unelected and “substitute” ministers – people might see that as undemocratic.
The arrival of Sinn Fein as a serious political entity with 13-15 Dail seats – final total not certain as yet – makes life more complicated for Micheál Martin. Will the two parties grow closer in opposition or will SF lean more towards the Joe Higgins/Richard Boyd Barrett wing of the Opposition? One to watch. There really isn’t a lot of room for two Opposition republican parties, one will swallow the other up at some stage surely?