Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael share many values now - O'Rourke


FORMER FIANNA Fáil deputy leader and government minister Mary O’Rourke has said there is now more to unite her party and Fine Gael than to divide them.

She pointed to the common approach of the two parties to Northern Ireland, Europe and the current financial crisis.

In an address to the 1916-1921 Club in Dublin Castle last night, the Lonford-Westmeath TD said that most voters no longer defined themselves in terms of Civil War politics. Having pointed to the shared values of the two parties on a number of issues, she said the last issue she wanted to mention was the “dreaded b” word.

“Yes, the budget. Once again Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have much in common.

“They both have very similar positions about how we can best tackle the financial crisis, we find ourselves in. Fine Gael agrees with the Fianna Fáil Government about the size and the scale of the cuts that are needed,” she said. “This week European commissioner Olli Rehn emphasised the importance of political consensus over the budget. Our every move is being scrutinised by the international money markets, the ECB and the IMF. I believe there is much to be gained from consensus,” she continued.

Ms O’Rourke said that almost 100 years after the Civil War, this country once again faced great challenges. “Once again our sovereignty is at stake, if we do not address our own economic and fiscal problems, our partners in the European Commission and IMF will come in and do it for us.”

She said the 1916-1921 Club was born out of the noble aspiration to heal the divisions of the Civil War which had cast a long shadow over Irish society for many years.

“I think now we need to embrace the characteristics, the ideals and the spirit of those that fought for Irish freedom such as Michael Collins, Eoin MacNeill, De Valera and Lemass.

“Their spirit and their optimism are needed now more than ever.

“The people of this country have had their faith in the banks, in the Catholic Church and even in politicians shaken over the last number of years. It is time for politicians from all political persuasions to employ the spirit of our deceased patriots and work to restore this faith.”

She said her own political heritage was a mixture of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. “My father Paddy Lenihan greatly admired Michael Collins and took the pro-Treaty side in 1922. It was only many years after the Civil War that my father joined Fianna Fáil, attracted in particular by Sean Lemass who shared many of the same qualities he had admired in Michael Collins.”

Ms O’Rourke said she had been delighted this year to attend the Michael Collins commemoration at Béal na Bláth for the first time.

“It was beautiful day and Brian Lenihan’s speech was so warmly received. It really brought it home to me how far as a nation we have come.”