Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil: ideologically chalk and cheese for Donnelly

Cantillon: Wicklow TD spells out ideological differences between two main parties

Stephen Donnelly: he gave an  explanation on what distinguishes the two big parties using his dealings with former minister for finance Michael Noonan as a template

Stephen Donnelly: he gave an explanation on what distinguishes the two big parties using his dealings with former minister for finance Michael Noonan as a template

 

After a typically eloquent oration on the need for more strategic, long-term thinking to deal with Brexit and other economic challenges at the annual Dublin Economic Workshop conference in Wexford, Fianna Fáil’s new golden boy Stephen Donnelly was hit with a veritable mud pie of a question.

ESRI director Alan Barrett asked him if he was so affronted by the lack of joined-up thinking in Irish political life why didn’t he dispense with the fiction that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were ideologically different and push for some form of coming together to allow this “new politics” to flourish.

Donnelly then proceeded to give a rather odd explanation on what distinguished the two parties, using his dealings with former minister for finance Michael Noonan as a template.

“We had this circular fight where I said, you must do the following things to protect mortgage holders, and he said, no, because I’m gonna protect the bank...and then I’d say, why are you protecting the bank, and he’d say, because the bank serves the people, to which I’d say , but the people will be dead, Minister.”

Such is the depth of Irish political discourse, nonetheless Donnelly believes it perfectly illustrates the main difference between the two parties.

“At its core the instincts of Fine Gael are to protect the institutions; at its core Fianna Fáil ’s instinct is to protect the people, ” Donnelly said, citing a Fine Gael insider.

“That’s exactly what Noonan and I were doing, neither of us are stupid, we both wanted the best for the country; my instinct was to start from the families , his instinct was to start from the bank and actually they are quite profoundly different ways of thinking about the world,” Donnelly said.

It wasn’t apparent Donnelly held this cuddly view of Fianna Fáil when he first entered politics as an Independent when he used to excoriate the party for being in bed with developers and doing backhand deals in the now defunct Galway Races tent.

Maybe he just couldn’t see the Soldiers of Destiny properly back then through all the champagne fizz and cigar smoke.