A Fianna Fail member has broken out of the traps in calling for a coalition between her party and those currently leading the government, Fine Gael.
Opinion polls for the past year has shown Fianna Fail make a slow rise in the polls, (after their near wipeout at the 2011 General Election), Fine Gael slowly falling in support, Labour having a major falling and Sinn Fein stalling.
The recent Red C/Paddy Power poll which came out this week put FF at 22%, FG 29%, Lab 11%, SF 15% and Ind 23%. At first glance it would put FF/FG at joint 51% support, FF/SF 37%, FG/Lab at 40% and FF/Lab 33%, giving Mary O’Rourke’s suggestion the edge.
O’Rourke’s father, PJ Lenihan was a Longford/Westmeath TD for Fianna Fail from 1965 until his death in 1970. However during the War of Independence he fought on the Pro-Treaty side, and only joined Fianna Fail following influence from Minister Sean Lemass.
“In 1943 my father ran for the local Athlone Urban District Council. He ran as a Rate Payer’s Association candidate which was then understood to be another term for Fine Gael,” said Mary O’Rourke. “He made it to head the poll on that occasion and on his later Local Authority forays he ran as a Fianna Fáil candidate. Seán Lemass and Éamon de Valera must have swayed him in that regard. He in time became Mr Fianna Fáil, Athlone and later on entered the Dáil for five short years before his death.”
In 1991, Mary’s brother, Brian Lenihan Snr. suggested a coalition between FF and Labour, and it was something which did come to pass in November 1992.
As of now, nobody knows who will form the next government, but the figures are currently agreeing with Mary O’Rourke. But as Mary’s brother Brian used to say…..”a week is a long time in politics,”.
On 22nd August 2010 in Béal na mBláth in County Cork, Brian Lenihan Jnr, the then Minister for Finance, (who is now deceased) spoke at the Annual Commemoration of the life and legacy of Michael Collins.
“Brian Lenihan was greatly honoured to have received this quite unexpected offer from the Collins Family and the Commemoration Committee and he expressed so publicly on that occasion. I have spoken to Dermot Collins since then, who initiated the invitation to Brian and he was quite emphatic that he and the Committee were unanimous in wanting Brian Lenihan to have this privilege,” said Mary O’Rourke.
On the day, Brian Lenihan Jnr. said – ‘The differences between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael today are no longer defined by the Civil War nor have they been for many years. It would be absurd if they were. This period of our history is gradually moving out of living memory. We ask and expect those in Northern Ireland to live and work together despite the carnage and grief of a much more recent and much more protracted conflict.”
“It is time that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would bridge the political divide between them and give serious thought to coming together in a political coalition come the next General Election,” said the former Minister O’Rourke. “I know quite well that there are plenty who will dismiss my reflections here today as ‘Summer School Speak’ or even the wild rantings of somebody who has left the political system. It is very easy to dismiss my thoughts in that cavalier fashion.
Mary O’Rourke gave her comments at the William Carleton international summer school in Clogher, Co. Tyrone.