TDs hail heroes from Kennedy and Gandhi to Kenny and Gilmore

MANDELA, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi make the list. So too do Bill Clinton, John F Kennedy and Franklin D Roosevelt. Aung San Suu Kyi and Mary Robinson are cited, as is Hillary Clinton.

Their connection? They’ve all been named by the Dáil’s current crop of TDs as their political heroes.

The TDs reveal their sources of inspiration in a newly published book, Election 2011 & the 31st Dáil, by the RTÉ team behind The Week in Politics show.

Unsurprisingly, given TDs are generally a conservative, cautious bunch, it’s a fairly safe, conventional list.

A large number of Fine Gael TDs opt for Michael Collins, for instance, while Fianna Fáil TDs do likewise with Sean Lemass.

There is even a Fine Gael TD who names Enda Kenny as his political hero, while a Labour TD does likewise with Eamon Gilmore.

Joan Collins of the People before Profit Alliance opts for the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. Social Affairs Minister and Labour TD Joan Burton opts for the late Tanzanian president, Julius Nyerere.

Perhaps worryingly for Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, a number of his backbenchers name as their hero Noel Browne, whose stubborn independent streak helped bring down Ireland’s first coalition government of 1948 to 1951.

The choice of political heroes is just one small element of the book, which reviews the general election campaign and profiles the new Dáil.

It includes in-depth statistical analysis by pollster Sean Donnelly and essays from presenters Sean O’Rourke and Bryan Dobson and political correspondents David McCullagh and David Davin Power.

The latter reveals some of the explosive exchanges between Fianna Fáil and the Greens in the final days of their doomed coalition.

A number of ministers had offered their resignations to Taoiseach Brian Cowen so that he could reshuffle his Cabinet, a move which the Green Party opposed. Green leader John Gormley urged Fianna Fáil to ring the Áras to see if the resignations could be withdrawn before the President accepted them.

As a result of the demand, “an increasingly agitated Brian Lenihan tracked Gormley over to his party rooms, demanding to speak to him”, Davin Power writes.

“‘Ring the Áras,’ the Green Party leader said again to the Finance Minister who exploded: ‘You can bully Fianna Fáil but you won’t bully the President of Ireland.’”

* The book, priced at €17.99, is available in bookshops.

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