Ó Cuív move to make FF Eurosceptic?

In every classic mob movie, whenever a Don is being buried, far back in the recesses of the cemetery you will see the raincoated FBI guys, with cameras trained on the congregation, just to see who has been flushed out for the occasion, to see who's in with who. By observing the faces in the crowd, assumptions and links can be made, and motivations mapped.

This weekend, the faces in the crowd worth watching will be those who come out of the shadows in the RDS in Dublin where Fianna Fail will be holding their first significant gathering since that time when You Know Who drank lots, sang lots, joked lots, slept little, and sounded awful. And the rest is history.

It promised to be a new beginning, a regeneration of the spirit of the party which has impacted on all our lives in a variety of ways for the past two decades.

From tomorrow night, the main focus of the gathering was to be the unveiling of the new footsoldiers of destiny who were to be brought out for their first parade.

It would have been the end of a good week for the party. They had gained some moral high ground against Sinn Fein who were shown to be masters of the dark arts — dark because of the amount of printer toner they hold in stock.

But today all such plans are in tatters. When Éamon Ó Cuív resigned last night because of his affront to leader Martin, what was set in place was a sort of civil war within the party. It will also result in FF's fourth deputy leader in less than a year.

There is no way now that this weekend's event can achieve the goals it set itself, to show that the party had a newfound focus, that it had laid the ghosts of the past, that it would be shown to be united and determined.

Now the conversation will be about Dev Óg and Martin and where they both go from here. It will be about Fianna Fail and what it stands for and where it goes from here.  Maybe it will be reshaped as a Eurosceptic party under Ó Cuív and take away some of the SF wind.

The Ard Fheis was be an outing for many of the new faces. One new member who is keen to run in the Council elections in two years time told me that she has been surreptitiously attending FF meetings for the past six months, unknown as yet to her own family. This weekend, she will be outed with her colours firmly nailed to the mast.

Like many others she is quietly saying that she is keen on being part of the new Fianna Fail and helping them prepare for that assault on power which is inevitable given the almost certain backlash there will be against the parties in power, especially after a few years of austerity.

We saw during the election campaign just how strong this support could be, right up to the implosion of the Sean Gallagher campaign. When it looked like Gallagher was going to win, there was a strong but latent support for him, because of his FF links. Members boasted how they were set to steal the election, but Marty McFly's debate actions ensured they were sent firmly back to the future.

However, before they take on the world, FF will, it seems, have to engage in a battle in their own backyard. The resignation of Ó Cuív could be the start of a leadership challenge that could further divide the tattered party.

Maybe, what FF needs is not a rebirth but a good old fashioned row to shake away the pretence that it is anything new. It's gonna be hot in Ballsbridge.


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