It was fascinating to hear Micheál Martin apologising at the Fianna Fáil Árd-Fheis, although precisely what he apologised for is open to debate. Martin has a gift for appearing sincere while simultaneously talking utter tosh — a great asset in any politician, but by no means an essential skill. Bertie Ahern had a gift for sounding like an illiterate corner-boy while talking nonsense, and yet the entire country voted for him. Charlie Haughey was a repulsive little lizard with a basilisk stare, and yet some people thought he was wonderful, despite his Irish solutions to Irish problems, a phrase so riddled with his innate dishonesty that it came to epitomise his entire leadership of Fianna Fáil.
Therefore, when a man like Martin appears, with a face like a liberation-theology priest, his party is doubly blessed. For once, they can say that they are led by a man who is neither a drunk nor a chancer, but unfortunately, it isn’t possible to say the same about the grassroots.
His speech starts out fairly well, acknowledging the state of the country and the pressure people are under.
As we meet tonight, there are people throughout our country who are experiencing very hard times. They are struggling with finding a job, paying their mortgage or losing a loved one to emigration.
The problems facing people are too serious for tired, old political games. I believe that people in public life have a responsibility to chart a way forward and to work to find solutions to the challenges facing Ireland.
We won’t disagree with him on that. The problems are too serious for tired old political games, but perhaps Micheál might consider the possibility that the very existence of his party constitutes a tired old political game. I’ve made the point before that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are anachronisms and that, since their policies are identical, they should both be dissolved and combined in one new party. They have the same origins and they represent the same sort of people. They have ridiculous titles that mean nothing and they have no underlying beliefs, although on balance, Fianna Fáil have tended to be the more corrupt of the evil twins, as Claire Ryan illustrated when writing here about Fianna Fáil’s involvement in corruption. The rot didn’t start yesterday.
Unfortunately for Micheál Martin, as his speech goes on, it starts to sound suspiciously like the political waffle of old, and increasingly delusional.
This party is determined to play a constructive and central role in Irish public life. And our focus is very clear – we will do all we can to promote credible solutions to promote growth and job creation. This government of broken promises must be held to account for its bad decisions. But we will tackle them responsibly.
When something is right for Ireland, we will support it, when it is wrong we will oppose it.
Let no one be in any doubt about where Fianna Fáil stands – we believe that politics must be about solving problems not exploiting them.
When something is wrong for Ireland they’ll oppose it? Clearly, the Fianna Fáil he speaks of has been abducted by aliens and replaced with identical doppelgangers. Greetings. We mean you no harm.
According to Micheál,
I first got involved in Fianna Fáil because we were a party of community, of integrity and of decency. We stood for social solidarity and were on the side of people trying to make ends meet.
Micheál Martin was born in 1960, when Taca was at its height. Already, when he was but a babe in arms, Fianna Fáil cronies had been given control of vital infrastructure. Todd Andrews had destroyed the railways so that his quarry-owning pals could make vast profits. The McGrath family had been facilitated in running the biggest gambling scam the world had ever seen. Dev had scammed thousands of Irish-Americans with his Irish Press shares swindle. By the time Martin joined the FF party as a student, Des Treanor was already running an illegal bank on behalf of tax-dodgers like Charlie Haughey, who believed Ireland existed for his own pleasure and enrichment.
With the very next sentence, Martin falls into absurdity.
When Europe was falling to fascism, our founding leader Eamon de Valera introduced a democratic republican constitution for this state.
Correction. When Europe was falling to fascism, this state was excluding Jews from asylum. Ireland was sending demented Catholic ideologues to fight for Franco in Spain, and when fascism was finally defeated, de Valera paid his respects to the German embassy on the demise of Herr Hitler. After the fall of fascism, de Valera’s government welcomed the murderous head of the Croatian Ustasha, Artukovic, and gave him sanctuary in Dublin. Likewise, when Europe was falling to fascism, de Valera was consulting the Archbishop of Dublin about the wording of his proposed constitution for a so-called republic.
This is delusional stuff out of Micheál Martin, although I realise that it was crafted for the footsoldiers. I know he’s an intelligent man and he can’t possibly believe this kind of guff, but if this is the grassroots of the party, what precisely are we dealing with and do we need such an organisation claiming the right to manage our country?
And so we come to the apology:
… we have a clear duty to admit our mistakes. It’s not enough to point to the worst world recession in 80 years and the euro zone crisis. Nor to point to the fact that other parties were demanding policies which would have made things worse – that’s for them to answer for.
We were in government and we should have acted differently.
We made mistakes.
We got things wrong.
And we are sorry for that.
Just the plain, unvarnished truth.
Last year the people did what they were right to do – they held us to account. People were angry and they showed it, delivering a historic defeat for us. We fully acknowledge the scale of the defeat.
I don’t accept this. Everyone is entitled to make mistakes, but Fianna Fáil went far beyond that and this is where Micheál Martin has failed. It’s not that his government got things wrong. The problem is that they were in the pockets of bankers, developers and builders. They were on the payroll. They were bought and paid for, and it was no mistake. No failure of policy.
Fianna Fáil were the property of big business and they did as they were instructed to do.
Let’s have no more talk of getting things wrong. If this is Martin’s understanding of what really took place then he has no business leading any party, big or small.
In March 2010 I argued that Ireland needs vision and focus, and I haven’t changed my opinion on this. In fairness to Micheál Martin, although he was a member of the Fianna Fáil cabinets that destroyed Ireland, he didn’t personally gain in any way from the corruption that attended the party of which he was a leading member, but he was one of those who completely failed to display vision and focus when setting out domestic public policy.
I once argued that much of the country’s problem derives from the passive and supine behaviour of the Irish themselves, and again, I haven’t departed from that view. I made the point that the Irish had deliberately been infantilised by both church and State as a means of exerting control, and that it’s time to promote critical, independent thinking if we’re going to find a way forward. Fianna Fáil is a party of true believers, and therefore the very antithesis of such thinking. It has nothing to contribute to a new Ireland.