Clare TD joins commission to refine party’s direction
DEPUTY Cathal Crowe has been given a new role by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin to come up with a national strategy to give Fianna Fáil a major shot in the arm.
The Meelick Deputy has been appointed on to a new commission, which will examine the aims and objectives of Fianna Fáil.
He is clear on what position Fianna Fáil should hold in the political spectrum.
“While Fianna Fáil will be measured on how it delivers in government, we have to stand for something greater. I see Fianna Fáil being a little bit left of centre, republican in outlook, supporting the marginalised by tackling rural isolation and poverty.
“Fianna Fáil has a broad church of support but needs a bit of refinement and redefining.”
A majority of Clare Fianna Fáil councillors expect a new party leader will be elected once Micheál Martin’s term as Taoiseach ends when Leo Varadkar takes over at the helm of the government, according to a Clare Champion survey completed last July.
Councillor Pat McMahon said at the time the party needs to develop much clearer policies and decide who they wanted to represent.
“There needs to be a radical change in the message and who they are selling the message to. Fianna Fáil are attempting to appeal to a cohort of voters who will not vote for them. Other parties focus on a demographic that might consider voting for them,” said Councillor Shane Talty.
Councillor Tony O’Brien said “politically, Fianna Fáil is in no man’s land.
“The national party executive has cut off the grass roots. We are on a path to self-destruction. We need to get back to the grass roots and start serving people as a priority.”
Councillor P J Kelly claimed the party’s traditional base in rural Ireland has been neglected. Previously, we had rural water grants and several other rural development schemes, now the funding is directed to urban areas.”
It is expected the new commission, which will examine ways to reinvigorate the party in view of the party’s poor showing in the Dublin South By-Election and some opinion polls, will include seven or eight people.
The new commission will consider the survey, which was published at the party’s recent think-in in Cavan, and engage in more consultation with councillors and Dáil deputies.
Over the last three decades, the former Clare first citizen recalled Fianna Fáil has gone from a party that came close to winning an overall majority to suffering a drubbing in the 2011 General Election, entering a controversial Confidence and Supply Agreement with Fine Gael, and is now part of a coalition in a three-party administration.
While Deputy Crowe believes the government are doing well overall navigating a difficult Covid-19 pandemic, there is no denying Fianna Fáil members and the electorate are questioning what the party actually stands for.
He admitted there is always a danger that a party in the political centre can lead to questions about what it really stands for.
“It is a good thing that Fianna Fáil is looking inward at the moment. The Labour Party in the United Kingdom engage in a process looking at the ideology of the party every few years.
“What we have seen in Ireland in recent years is Fine Gael have moved to the right, Sinn Féin have moved towards the centre.”
Commenting on his decision to enter politics, Deputy Crowe said the main reason he joined Fianna Fáil is its status as the Republican Party.
He believes Republicanism is just a case of wrapping the green flag around nationalism but supporting equality, rural Ireland, the marginalised, and supporting social housing for those with the greatest need.
He said the party now needs to look at how it can reassert its republican brand to meet the needs of the current electorate.
“While I don’t want an election for a long time, I have always held the view the party and politicians should be election ready.
“Fianna Fáil needs to redefine its party brand, we need our own policies. The electorate need to know we are different from Fine Gael and the Greens, yet we are prepared to work with these parties in government the national interest over the coming years.”
by Dan Danaher