Bertie Ahern loved the construction ‘buzz’. I remember one day, as I was coming out of the lift on the fifth floor of Leinster House with him, he drew me to a window and said, ‘Look at the number of building cranes there are out there,’ – there were perhaps 20 or so on the horizon – ‘Isn’t it wonderful?’ Yes of course it was – it meant full employment and, as the construction taxes kept coming in, much of the consequent spending was good social spending. But the difficulty was that at a crucial point, no one shouted ‘stop’ on construction, and spending got out of control, and policies became increasingly wayward.
Author, Noel Whelan who comes from the Fianna Fail gene pool said that the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll is good for the party’s morale, but they have to be careful, and keep it in context.
“Sinn Fein got a rise and bounce during the Lisbon referendum, and Fianna Fail will be relieved now, and will draw comfort from the fact that they have stopped falling, and that they are starting to go upwards,” said Noel Whelan. “They have got more assertive in Dail debates, and Billy Kelleher was very strong on the Reilly issue. They have stopped the fall, and jumped a bit, but it still would be fanciful to see them back in the short time, anywhere like where they were. Even in two elections, it would be ambitious.”
He also said to irishsmokefill that it would be “presumptuous of Fianna Fail to think they will automatically and inevitably grow, because the government are unpopular, and that aint going to happen.”
“Labour are at their natural 12% and got a bounce because of Fianna Fail at the last national election, but they will struggle because of new competition from Sinn Fein. The party (Labour) management has been chaotic of late, at least around Nessa Childers and Phil Prendergast,” said Whelan. “Fianna Fail needs to be ruthless in advance of the local elections, and completely gut their tickets and lineups, and start with active energetic faces, male and female, more female than male.”
Noel Whelan is author of ‘Fianna Fail – A Biography of the Party’.
John Drennan, who writes for the Sunday Independent, spoke to irishsmokefill last week, about the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll. He said that the more the voters see of Sinn Fein, the less they like them. The party dropped four points to 20%, in the poll.
“Fianna Fail are half way there now, they started off at the General Election on 16.8%, they have got to 21%, and they are half way to where they have to be, to be a 54 seat party,” said Drennan. “Labour is on 12%, which is good for them, because their support is concentrated in Dublin. That’s a good result for Labour.”
John Drennan is author of ‘Standing By the Republic – 50 Dail Debates That Shaped the Nation’
The Fianna Fail leader said the October Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll which put the party at 21%, up four points since the last such poll in May, is “a welcome trend,” but the party’s focus is on “restoring trust with the Irish people.”
“We are not that focussed on short term opinion polls,” said Micheal Martin TD.
He spoke to irishsmokefill, at Mary O’Rourke’s book launch in the National Library on October 18th. He said that they have a long journey ahead of them, and the party’s main focus is on the Local Elections 2014.
“That would be a major milestone for us, we are working to attract new people into the party, younger people, more women, in addition to those we already have,” said the Fianna Fail leader.
He said he regrets the abolition of town councils, as planned in the new government plan.
“Democracy is important and we should not be so willingly removing levels of democracy, because town councils are about people getting together and helping their community,” said Micheal Martin. “We should not lose sight of that.”