Galway Fianna Fáil made ‘sober and realistic’ by damning Mahon Tribunal report
Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern was a regular visitor to Galway.
By Kernan Andrews
It has taken the full impact of the Mahon Report to bring home to many Galway Fianna Fáil members that it is likely to remain a minority party for a long time to come.
The Tribunal’s report, published last week, declared the evidence given by the disgraced former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was “untrue”, that former minister Padraig Flynn had taken a “corrupt payment”, and it also criticised former FF ministers for undermining the work of the Tribunal.
Speaking to the Galway Advertiser this week, a Fianna Fáil source said the report is making the party take a long hard look at itself, where it has come from, and where it is going.
The source said that prior to the publication of the report, there were many within FF who felt the electorate had “punished Fianna Fáil for taking the hard decisions” over the economy’s collapse and that within a couple of general elections FF would be back in power - rather than acknowledge the reality that the party’s collapse was a result of its severe mishandling of the economy and that many of those who abandoned it in 2011 would never return.
“There is a realism now following the report among all sections of the party that we will not turn around our fortunes quickly and not be back to within 50/70 seats within the next election or two,” said the source. “It took the Mahon Report, rather than the 2011 election, to bring it home to many members. It is sobering and we understand we are going to be the third party in the State for some time.”
The source said the Mahon Report also underlines the difficulties the party faces in rebuilding its image and status among voters.
“We have a hell of a lot of work to do to overcome the verdict of the Mahon and the fallout from the economic collapse,” the source said. “People have lost trust in us and it will be a huge task to regain that.
“I don’t think the Mahon Report will cost us anymore votes, but it will harden the attitude of those who no longer vote for Fianna Fáil and that will make the rebuilding process doubly hard. The most difficult area will be in attracting young voters as they will not turn instantly to Fianna Fáil anymore.”
Nonetheless, Galway Fianna Fáil members are not contemplating any talk of disbandment of the party.
“I don’t think there will be disbandment,” the source said. “There is too much of an ethos, history, and organisation there and there are still a lot of members who care about the party and think it has something to offer.”