Fintan O’Toole: Fianna Fáil has had two long lives – there will not be a third act

Once its hold on power evaporated, so did the party’s reason for existing

Then taoiseach  Albert Reynolds arriving at the beef tribunal in October 1992.  Photograph: Jack McManus

Then taoiseach Albert Reynolds arriving at the beef tribunal in October 1992. Photograph: Jack McManus

For a long time, whenever I thought about Fianna Fáil (which was far too often for my mental wellbeing), a particular phrase came to mind. I knew it off by heart. It encapsulated an undeniable truth that was at the core of Irish politics for eighty years.

The words were uttered in the bar of the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin in 1992. The background noise of Irish public life at the time was an endless tribunal of inquiry into shenanigans in the beef industry and their governmental ramifications.

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