Highest ethical standards key to party's recovery, warns Senator

 

FIANNA FÁIL:THE NEED for Fianna Fáil to display the highest ethical standards in public life was essential to its recovery as a political party.

This was the message spelled out by Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power in a speech to the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, yesterday.

“While breaches of ethical standards occurred in almost all parties, we must recognise that Fianna Fáil, more than any other party, has been associated with the worst of those breaches,” the Senator, a newcomer to the Oireachtas, said.

“An absolute commitment to upholding – and being seen to uphold – the highest ethical standards must be non-negotiable for all parties on this island, but for Fianna Fáil this is doubly so.

“In the new Fianna Fáil, our moral compass must never again be thrown off by the magnet of loyalty. In the new Fianna Fáil, there must be no place for anybody who thinks it’s acceptable to claim expenses from the taxpayer from their holiday home.”

There could be no place, she said, “for anybody who thinks it’s acceptable to carry around suitcases of cash, give loans to friends from party funds or refuse to answer reasonable questions about their rather unorthodox financial arrangements”. She joined Fianna Fáil “because I saw it in my community as being the party of the ‘aspirational classes’, prioritising work over welfare and promoting education as a vehicle of social opportunity”.

Irish Times columnist and former party activist Noel Whelan said the odds were against the party’s survival. “Will Fianna Fáil survive or can it ever re-emerge again at anything approaching its former size and position in our party system? My answer to that question is, probably not.

“As well as having a traumatised organisation, Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary and financial resources are so depleted, it’s difficult to see how it might muster a recovery effort. It has a leader full of optimism and energy, and a small group of new younger faces, but that is not nearly enough.

“Micheál Martin’s task would be easier if he was building on a greenfield site, but he is not. There is an awful lot of debris in his way.”