The decision by Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív to observe a vow of silence and accept leader Micheál Martin’s veto on campaigning for a no vote on EU fiscal treaty averts, for now at least, what would have been a major challenge for Mr Martin.
It would have been impossible for Mr Martin to tolerate public defiance by such a senior figure. It would have polarised the remnants of a once-great organisation, possibly splitting it along the urban/rural divide. Mr Martin and his advisers know rebuilding urban support — Fianna Fáil do not have even one deputy in Dublin — is the only way to recover some of the ground lost at the last election. Whether the traditional, rural, kind of thinking behind the daft legislation making the translation of all official reports into Irish mandatory before they are consigned unread to some forgotten warehouse, epitomised by Mr Ó Cuív, can survive that process remains to be seen.
Unfortunately there was an air of high buffoonery to yesterday’s pointless grandstanding. The self-importance and imagined grandeur, recurring themes in a political career built on distributing EU grants and his grand-father’s reputation, exemplify the traits that have undermined Fianna Fáil and Irish politics in general.
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