Fianna Fáil – no apologies for pragmatism

 

Sir, – Micheál Martin cites “the enactment of Bunreacht na hÉireann” as proof of Fianna Fail’s good service to the State in his rebuttal of Fintan O’Toole’s assessment (Opinion & Analysis, July 13th) of the party’s contribution (“Fianna Fáil defies O’Toole’s simple caricature”, Opinion & Analysis, July 15th).

In an exchange with Róisín Shortall in the Dáil on Wednesday, Mr Martin was claiming that the failure of his Government to address exorbitant rents being charged was due to constraints contained within that same Constitution.

If that is so, it can easily be claimed that the Constitution he brags about has been designed to protect the interests of one cohort of the population at the expense of others.

Put bluntly, landlords are fully protected while renters have no protection whatever. A clear example of how unfair our society is and how the State his party moulded sustains that inequality and unfairness.

It is very hard not to see ideology at work here, despite Mr Martin’s protests. – Yours, etc,

JIM O’SULLIVAN,

Rathedmond,

Sligo.

Sir, – Reading “Fianna Fáil defies O’Toole’s simple caricature” was an eye-opener. Micheál Martin makes no apologies for putting practical solutions ahead of ideological ones. In other words, he is finally admitting that Fianna Fáil is a “catch-all” party, a term coined by political scientist Otto Kirchheimer in the 1960s.

Someone should tell Mr Martin that this is not something his party should be proud of. A party without ideology is a party devoid of principles, and only interested in power.

A catch-all party is a threat to democracy, nurturing the collusion of political parties and the State, and the erosion of the separation of powers.

Well done to the 95 per cent of the voters in Dublin Bay South who understood all this before reading this piece by Mr Martin. – Yours, etc,

Dr VITTORIO

BUFACCHI,

Cork.

Sir, – In addition to the challenges (health, housing, education, and so on ) faced by successive governments, it appears there is an unsettling regularity in the occurrence of systemic threats to this country, whether from cybercrime, virus mutations, financial meltdowns, or the flight of US corporations.

All we have in the toolbox to fend off these threats is our little democracy and our friendships with our neighbours on these islands, in Europe, the US, and beyond. In our democracy, our politicians are elected to represent the voters and to give a voice to those who have no voice. Today, social media has given everyone a voice, and the rise of populism is perhaps the greatest systemic threat of all.

Fianna Fáil has been “late to the table” on social media and as a consequence hasn’t tuned in fully to people, now in their twenties and thirties, who have grown up in the social media age. But what is also true is that younger people are growing increasingly confused and weary of information tsunamis deliberately propagated by highly skilled purveyors of half-truths and “blue-sky” solutions. The role of democratically elected politicians in giving a voice and leadership seems never to be more critical. It was disheartening therefore to read your editorial “The Irish Times view on byelection recriminations within Fianna Fáil” (July 13th). The notion that elected politicians should keep quiet and hunker down “in the national interest” should be anathema to anyone who believes in open democracy. To dismiss some critics as those who missed out on promotion is unfair.

The washing of dirty linen in public may be amusing to some, and unsightly to others, but if it needs to happen it should not be suppressed. No one can disagree that while it creates short-term discomfort for any major political party, and may risk the ire of the wider electorate, it is fundamentally a healthy process for democracy and hopefully strengthens us for whatever lies in wait around the corner. – Yours, etc,

NOEL MAGEE,

Dublin 4.