Taoiseach rejects ‘uno duce una voce’ accusation
FF leader launches scathing attack on Taoiseach for refusing to debate Seanad issue on TV with him
Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the press conference concluding the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party conference, in Killenard, Co Laois today. Photograph: Eric Luke / THE IRISH TIMES
Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin TD and Senator Averill Power on the final day of the two-day Fianna Fáil think-in at the Tower Hotel Waterford. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / THE IRISH TIMES
Members of the Fianna Fáil Parlimentary party post for for a “family photo” on the final day of the two-day Fianna Fáil think- in at the Tower Hotel Waterford. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / THE IRISH TIMES.
Mr Martin’s attacked Mr Kenny for his refusal to debate the Seanad referendum on the airwaves describing his style as disingenuous and dictatorial. In his criticism of the Taoiseach, Mr Martin invoked the phrase ‘uno duce una voce’ which became associated with the autocratic leadership style of former Fianna Fáil taoiseach Charles Haughey.
However, Mr Kenny hit back later saying: “It ill-behoves any member of the Fianna Fáil party to accuse me of being a dictator. Far from that. I probably am the most open person who has handled this office, who has had the privilege of sitting in this office. My politics are about the people and about the country”
Speaking to reporters at the end of a two-day Fine Gael think-in in Co Laois, Mr Kenny said: “Micheál Martin should know better. I had the privilege of appointing people to the Seanad. The vast majority were completely and utterly independent. They were never contacted by me subsequent to that to ask them to support the Government on any bill on any vote. It is the most democratic thing to ask the people for their imprimatur and for their approval in a case where governments over the year failed to do this.
“Micheál Martin’s party want 100 senators appointed, 100 senators, in a party that ignored all the elements of politics, he himself sat down at the Cabinet table or was contacted incorporeally about the banking situation. He himself as a minister for health refused to accept any responsibility for situations where up to €1 billion were taken off elderly people in geriatric homes,” Mr Kenny added.
Earlier, setting out a view that many Fine Gael TDs and Senators are opposed to the abolition of the Upper House, Mr Martin said: “But because of this, how would I put it, ‘uno duce una voce’, approach of Enda Kenny and his people and the dictatorial approach, [FINE GAEL]people afraid to vote against it.”
The phrase, which means ‘one duke one voice’, is an Italian slogan from the 1930s used by the fascist movement to describe the authority of its leader Benito Mussolini, otherwise known as Il Duce.
It was first used in the Irish context by then government press secretary PJ Mara in the 1980s in the wake of a failed leadership challenge to Mr Haughey. In a briefing to correspondents, he said ‘uno duce una voce’ and added that there would be “no more nibbling at my leader’s bum”.