Fianna Fáil’s worst-ever showing in an opinion poll could well accelerate his political demise
AS Claudius said in Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet,’ ‘when sorrows come they come not single spies, but in battalions’ – in other words, when crap happens, it doesn’t happen alone; many other unfortunate things occur at the same time.
Which, when applied to the case of our much-assailed Taoiseach, Mickey Martin, can mean only one thing. His time is up and that, politically, his goose is cooked.
Sad but politically inevitable, considering his unpopularity within Fianna Fáil. With exquisite accuracy, a Sunday newspaper described him as ‘fading in office’!
And contributing to his impending political demise as leader: the party’s worst ever showing in a Red C poll, at just 10%!
To rub salt in the wound, Sinn Féin has consolidated its support, which is holding firm at 27%. Curiously Sinn Féin is the party with which the F&Fers have most compatibility, but the F&Fers don’t promote good relations, largely because of Mickey’s entrenched opposition to any connection between the two Republican groups.
Indeed, a remarkable political scenario seems to be unfolding: The major players dominating the political stage are Fine Gael and Sinn Féin – both holding their own (FG at 35% and Sinn Féin 27%). But for the Soldiers of Destiny, Mickey’s bunch, it’s support level is at a derisory 10%.
All of which was grist to the mill for ‘Young Dev’ – otherwise known as Éamon Ó Cuív. As Mickey’s most vocal critic, he has long been warning that the party will continue to have problems if Fianna Fáil continues with the ‘myth’ that its problems have nothing to do with the Corkman’s style of leadership.
Difficult times, indeed, for Our Mickey, who’s showing the effect of the immense pressure that he’s under, as he bravely tries to take his party out of the doldrums. Indeed, on observing the physical strain it was having on the FF politico, Ian Paisley Junior was prompted to tweet: ‘I mean it in the best possible taste, and I do mean it humorously: Micheál Martin is looking dour enough to be a Protestant’!
And that’s saying something!
Gloomy in manner
Relentlessly severe and gloomy in manner (and who wouldn’t be depressed when the party that founded the State is now at sixes and sevens with itself?), poor ole Mickey has yet to read the writing on the wall and avoid censuring so-called loyalists to the De Valera (republican) tradition. It’s very likely that he’s failing to acknowledge that such an attitude might be contributing to the party’s mediocre performance in the polls.
When compared to Sinn Féin, Mickey’s critics complain that Fianna Fáil comes across as ‘stale.’
Conclusion? Politically, if it happens that he’s a gonner for failing to correct what seems to be an irreversible decline in popularity, Mickey will go down fighting as leader of a small ‘r’ (republican) Fianna Fáil; and fair dues to him for that.
In response to calls for his replacement, he defiantly said: ‘I’m not into short-termism (wha’ dat?) or opinion polls; no Government can run on opinion polls from month to month, and it shouldn’t.’ Perhaps Mickey got the advice of Donald Trump on that one!
Et tu Bruté?
Meanwhile the wolves are circling. A Dublin chap, Jim O’Callaghan, still wet behind the ears (having been elected a TD as recently as 2016), announced that he would give the job of leader ‘full consideration’ when ‘the vacancy’ became available.
The comment was hardly reassuring to poor Mickey who, as current leader, is trying to impose some order and to keep the ship of state on an even keel?
O’Callaghan’s ‘altruistic’ offer ‘to step-in’ indicates that Fianna Fáil remains a party in which the principle of noblesse oblige still survives. In other words the concept that ‘privilege entails responsibility’ is alive and well and that it is perfectly acceptable for an almost unknown politico to announce that he was the man to take the country into sunnier political climes.
Interestingly O’Callaghan’s clarion call was in no way interpreted as arrogance or a sign of being too big for one’s boots. So, well done, Jimmy boy, whoever you are!
It all goes to show that Mickey is aware of what’s going on but, as De Paper reported, that Our Taoiseach was too busy running the country in a time of crisis to be bothered by critics, such as Marc MacSharry, who had advised the Taoiseach to stop holding press conferences with Varadkar. MacSharry claimed that the Fine Gael leader was running rings around Mickey, the Fianna Fáil man.
Perhaps Mickey’s dismissal of the ‘running rings around’ comment had something to do with the advice cynics give to joggers on how to improve their skills: ‘Run like you stole something.’
A tall tale
In these dark times, spare a thought for Fota Wildlife Park which was hit by the Covid-19 lockdown and was closed from March to the middle of May.
Staff were worried at the long term implications of having no visitors and yet having to fork out €15,000 a month on food for its 135 animal species. It included a monthly supply of two-and-a-half tonnes of meat for lions and tigers, one tonne of chicken for the cheetahs and three tonnes of small fish for penguins and pelicans.
On re-opening, Fota introduced a 500-visitor limit, a pre-booking system for visitors and one-way walking that reinforced social distancing. Happily the changes did not deter the local wags who spotted a local politico participating in a photo-op among the exotic beasts.
The best comment was this one: ‘The minister was wondering why the giraffes were following him?’ They wanted to see how long his neck was, came the sharp reply.
Bad hair day
And then, the other day, we read this weird news item:
Shona’s Unisex Hair Salon in Gloucestershire was looking for a part-time qualified hairdresser and put an advert in the local newspaper seeking a ‘happy hair stylist.’
Within 24 hours the local council warned Shona that its ‘Find-a-Job Service’ was obliged to pull the advert because the expression ‘happy hairstylist’ could be considered ‘discriminatory’ against unhappy hairstylists!
Shona, a 60-year-old lady who ran the business for many years, said she was knocked for six when warned of her ‘discriminatory’ job advert.