Now the ham fists heave against it Michael Martin left, the Taoiseach gets a standing ovation at the next meeting Fianna Fail TDs and Senators? Is someone in the parliamentary party standing up and apologizing on behalf of those who have tried to undermine them over the past 21 months while leading the country through a global crisis?
Does a second say they will now stand behind him for the rest of his time in government buildings and then step down to let him decide what he wants to do in terms of leadership?
Micheál is unlikely to hold his breath for such a scenario to play out. After months of amateur plotting, the unsuspecting rebels didn’t even have the guts to stick their necks on the line.
Charlie McCreevy, the late Des O’Malley, and Martin himself were among those who had actually previously distrusted leaders.
Sometimes there is a price to pay, but this time all that was shown was cleaning rather than principle. It’s not so much that the recovery doesn’t materialize as that Martin is fighting back the dissidents.
While the egoists conspired, he just kept going.
Martin can rightly say that he will lead Fianna Fáil to the next general election. No one has shown the ability to challenge their authority. Whether he wants to or not remains to be seen, but he will leave them all in the dark. The Taoiseach has eight months left at the head of the country.
Then he becomes Tánaiste. He has his choice of portfolio. He has worked in education, health, business and foreign affairs. There is a theory in the coalition that he envisions a partial return to basics.
Given his passion for the higher education sector, the Higher Education Department is a smart bet as it’s a chance to transform the department he insisted on creating two years ago into a powerful portfolio and leave a legacy there.
Beyond that, who knows?
The job of EU commissioner is due in 2024, as is the presidency of the European Council, which is reserved for someone from the Prime Ministers’ Club.
So far, there hasn’t been anyone in Fianna Fáil who shows a real reason to take the lead. Darragh O’Brien is entitled to have more time providing housing than providing statistics coming out of his department. Michael McGrath has the prize of becoming Treasury secretary in sight in December, but he won’t set the world on fire.
As for the defeated Charlie O’Connor of Tallaght, the former Fianna Fáil TD spent a decade billing itself as the holder of “the smallest seat in the Dáil”. In Fianna Fáil, this title can currently be attributed to Jim O’Callaghan.
He turned down the offer of a junior ministerial role and has discovered the fickleness of the disgruntled.
After throwing forms for 18 months, he is now stranded on the back benches while others gain government experience.
At the next general election, O’Callaghan is the weak link in a constituency that now has Green and Labor leaders, a stable Sinn Féin TD and enough votes for a Fine Gael seat, assuming he’s right. Dublin Bay South is already guaranteed a casualty.
Would-be leaders should pay more attention to the background of the mutineers. One of the long-time dissidents has been complaining about the party’s leadership for a good decade and a half now. If Seán Lemass himself rose from the grave and returned to office, he still wouldn’t be happy.
What Martin has demonstrated is the need for a leader to understand the dynamics of a wide range of fields. His time was marked by a series of crises that he in no way caused himself, from the effects of the pandemic to the aftermath of the war in Ukraine.
And the ongoing housing and health crises can be attributed in part to previous Fianna Fáil governments, but voters have decidedly short memories. All this time he had to make tough decisions – about lockdowns, budgets, refugees.
Listen Maria Lou McDonald when wearing masks on RTÉs fabulous flip flops This week served as a reminder that decision-making in power is not an optional luxury and the ability to stand firm cannot be taken for granted.
Martin, in particular, should be credited in Fianna Fáil for bringing his party back from the brink after collapsing in the wake of the economic crash. At the time it would have been perfectly reasonable to suggest that there might never be another Fianna Fáil Taoiseach, certainly not within the next decade.
Meanwhile, Martin’s most ardent critics were actually within his own party. Go back exactly a decade and the aftermath of the Mahon tribunal brought plenty of trouble.
The tribunal’s findings shamed the party and seemed to confirm the reasons why their administration of the country had ended in economic bailout disaster.
Just a year after his rebuilding exercise, Martin found that Fianna Fáil’s public perception could actually go down even further.
Right in the middle were the findings on Bertie Ahern, which did not accuse him of corruption, but that he had not truthfully stated the sources of money that he had deposited in his bank account as Minister of Finance in the 1990s.
Martin accused Ahern – his Taoiseach in the three consecutive governments he has served in the Cabinet – of breach of trust and proposed his ouster.
Ahern jumped rather than being pushed, but there was still much bitterness in the party.
Martin’s ruthless pragmatism showed that no one was safe from the axe. He went on to find a way for a mainly conservative party through the referendums on same-sex marriage and abortion. This ability to find a solution serves him well now as he leads a reluctant coalition.
Micheál Martin’s fate is now firmly in his own hands, having tricked, outwitted and outwitted his internal critics.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/fianna-fail-rebels-without-a-clue-have-been-outfoxed-by-master-of-his-own-destiny-micheal-martin-41517448.html The unsuspecting rebels of Fianna Fáil have been outwitted by the master of his own destiny, Micheál Martin