Irish Examiner view: A decade as a political leader

Micheál Martin is to be congratulated
Irish Examiner view: A decade as a political leader

Ten years ago today Micheál Martin became leader of Fianna Fáil. Though Mr Martin does not glow with charisma like an Obama or a Merkel his commitment cannot be questioned.

Ten years ago today Micheál Martin became leader of Fianna Fáil. He and his family may indulge in a quiet, moment of satisfaction but any celebrations will be modest. 

Just as the circumstances that led to his leadership were grim, so too are todays. A different kind of chaos but chaos nonetheless. 

Like a young Irish rugby star sent on the pitch at, say, Stade de France on the 76th minute, to win his first cap as Ireland trail 34 to 9, the achievement may be real but the opportunities are limited.

That impression is strengthened by the fact that Mr Martin is unlikely to drown in the waves of loyalty, affection, or respect shown by his parliamentary party colleagues. 

They have, almost to a man, worked endlessly to undermine him more effectively than nearly any opponent. That they have failed to remove him, even in these grim circumstances, says a lot about Mr Martin's resilience and their effectiveness.

Though Mr Martin does not glow with charisma like an Obama or a Merkel his commitment cannot be questioned. He, like all of us, makes mistakes, a propensity underlined by the relentlessly changing circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic - circumstances that even an Obama or a Merkel would find challenging.

A decade as a political leader is an achievement, especially in red-in-tooth-and-claw Fianna Fáíl. 

Mr Martin is to be congratulated and maybe the best way we could do that is by asking ourselves what we really expect of a political leader and if those expectations are realistic.

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