FF deserves credit for confidence and supply deal, says Creed

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are ‘rightful inheritors’ of the revolutionary generation

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said Fianna Fáil had responded after the last general election when others chose to stand idly by. Photograph: Sportsfile

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said Fianna Fáil had responded after the last general election when others chose to stand idly by. Photograph: Sportsfile

 

Fianna Fáil deserves credit for entering the confidence and supply agreement at a time when “others chose to stand idly by”, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said on Sunday.

Mr Creed said Fianna Fáil’s decision meant the coalition could deliver political stability without the distraction of being a minority government and said it marked a normalisation of parliamentary democracy in response to challenging times Ireland faced in recent years.

“The last general election delivered a challenging Dáil arithmetic. To their credit, Fianna Fáil responded when others chose to stand idly by,” said Mr Creed in what many will interpret as a swipe at Sinn Féin after the party decided not to engage in talks towards forming a government.

“The Confidence and Supply agreement has delivered in spades for the country by enabling, at the most challenging of times, the Government to focus, undistracted by parliamentary arithmetic, on the many obstacles we face at home and abroad,” he said.

Speaking at the annual Béal na Bláth commemoration to mark the 96th anniversary of the killing of General Michael Collins in the Civil War in August 1922, Mr Creed re-iterated neither the country, the Government, nor Fine Gael wanted a general election now.

And he recalled how Collins, as one of the leaders of the pro-Treaty side in Dáil Éireann, urged those who opposed to the Treaty to remember that Ireland’s cause was far better served by unity as he appealed to anti-Treaty figures to join them and form a government.

Collins had argued “the greatest amount of credit for us in the eyes of the world, and with the greatest advantage to the Nation itself” would come from a strong united government” when he urged his opponents to take part in “interim government, without prejudice to their principles”.

‘Rightful inheritors’

Mr Creed also acknowledged Fianna Fáil’s key role in the formative years of the State when he told the crowd of several hundred: “we in Fine Gael and our colleagues in Fianna Fáil are the rightful inheritors of the legacy of those founding fathers and revolutionaries.”

Fine Gael had shown a similar willingness to put country before party as Fianna Fáil was doing now, when in the late 1980s then Fine Gael leader, Alan Dukes developed the Tallaght Strategy where Fine Gael did not oppose economic reforms proposed by the minority Fianna Fáil government.

“Confidence & Supply ..... marks the normalisation of parliamentary democratic ways and means in Ireland though patently not liked or indeed understood by many commentators who have predicted its demise on many occasions,” he said.

Mr Creed said the Béal na Bláth commemoration had over the years heard Fianna Fáil being denigrated but credit must also be given to the Béal na Bláth Commemoration Committee for inviting the late Fianna Fáil TD and minister for finance Brian Lenihan to speak there in 2010.

In a wide ranging address where he also spoke about the challenges of climate change and Brexit, Mr Creed welcomed the growing separation of church and state as being good for both institutions while he also praised former president Mary McAleese for challenging church orthodoxy.

He said, as a practicing Catholic who was “deeply uncomfortable” with the official church position on various scandals including the Magdelene Laundries as well its attitude towards women and the LGBT community, he commended Ms McAleese for her courage in raising these issues.