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On the centenary of the Titanic disaster, how appropriate that Fianna Fáil should have a sinking feeling after its culture of corruption and cronyism was unmasked by the Mahon Report
The Whole Hog, 10 Apr 2012
But beyond that, two major questions arise. The first is to do with Fianna Fáil’s future. Micheál Martin has said that he accepts the findings, adding that the people identified in the tribunal report had “betrayed the trust put in them by the public”.
That’s putting it mildly.
But they also betrayed their own history and the radical roots of the Fianna Fáil party. They betrayed the republic they were established to defend. They betrayed the Irish people. So, there is now a major question as to whether the party can survive, bearing in mind that the other historically anti-Treaty party, Sinn Féin, is now demilitarised and participating successfully in the democratic process. If it’s to have a future, Fianna Fáil needs to discover its unique selling point in 2012. That it’s not Sinn Féin and that it’s not Fine Gael is not enough any more.
The second is about the quality and calibre of civil society, politics and administration in Ireland. Of course, there’s the immediate need to excise the cancer from our public life. But if we wasn’t to go beyond that, we are all going to have to move past the admiration for those in the winner’s enclosure, and the acceptance of back-scratching and manipulation of the official systems, and cynicism and mistrust of the democratic processes that went with it…
It all leads in one direction, and that is towards a renewal of our collective commitment to the society and the State – and its commitment to us as equal citizens of a Republic. Mutual responsibility and accountability are part of that contract. The momentum is now towards what President Michael D. Higgins has called the campaign for the real republic. Its context is increasingly clear.
At the risk of over-egging the metaphor, the coming struggle will be titanic but worth it. We may have shipped some holes, but we ain’t for sinking yet.