DCSIMG

Mick Mullholland

The wiser heads in that diminished party, Fianna Fail, are getting a fit of the jitters.

Reports of some former Ministers, who lost their seats in 2011, wanting to make a comeback is causing no small level of concern among the Soldiers of Destiny.

There have been reports for some time from deepest Kerry that John O’Donoghue, who resigned as Ceann Comhairle over an expenses scandal, is actively working towards a nomination.

Indeed, it is believed he received a standing ovation at a Fianna Fail gathering in the Kingdom some time back.

At the weekend, former Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, who lost her seat in Donegal, said she has not closed the door completely on running in 2016 but that there is a need for new blood.

Fianna Fail in Mount Street will carefully analyse Ms Coughlan’s remark and the fact that she has chosen to give an interview to Radio na Gaeltalchta at this time.

It was assumed that Ms Coughlan had called it a day, but leaving the door open to a comeback sounds suspiciously like testing the waters.

After all, parties will be looking to general elections conventions in the aftermath of next summer’s local elections, particularly so in Fianna Fail’s case.

The party will have to move promptly to begin the selection of candidates in those constituencies where they have no sitting TD.

That would give the candidate time to get a good profile locally, whether he or she was an elected councillor or otherwise.

It will particularly apply in the new five-seaters of Donegal and Kerry where the party has no sitting TD.

What if no putative candidate emerges for the party in those two constituencies for Fianna Fail from the local elections?

Could it clear the way for Ms Coughlan in Donegal and Mr O’Donoghue in Kerry, if they manage to secure sufficient rank and file support?

The possibility must be sending shivers down the spine of party leader Micheal Martin.

A former Minister or, in Mr O’Donoghue’s case, a former Ceann Comhairle, would revive memories of the bad old days for Fianna Fail and the economic destruction of this country.

Fine Gael and Labour and, indeed, the other parties, would rub their hands with glee.

Fianna Fail needs new and young candidates, with no baggage, to fight the next general election.

But the word is that the search is not proving that easy. Some of the sitting councillors, even those without Dail ambitions, are reportedly not enthusiastic about moving aside for new blood in a reduced local election base.

Time will tell. But new men and women on the block will be critical to Fianna Fail’s recovery. There is, unfortunately, no indication in the interview that Ms Coughlan is in the mood for apologising to the Irish people for the sorry mess, as Mr Martin has done. Contrition does not appear to come easily to some of those who participated in the economic destruction of the country.

Incredibly, Ms Coughlan is more interested in shooting the messenger than dealing with the message.

She remarks on how difficult it was for her family when the media covered the huge waste of money in the job training agency, Fas, and the handsome 1.1 million euro retirement package for chief executive Roddy Molloy.

“Crowds of journalists would follow me, running down the road after me…they took most of what I said out of context,’’ she said.

She made no reference to the waste of public money and how the unfortunate taxpayer was picking up the bill.

She even went so far as to say it was possible the media had an agenda.

A media agenda, when it was compellingly obvious that public money had been wasted!

Even Mr Cowen, who showed a lamentable inability in the Dail to call a spade and spade on the issue, did not remotely go that far.

Two years time, when she is 50, Ms Coughlan will collect a Dail and ministerial pension worth 140,000 euro.

That will be on top of the 353,000 she received as a farewell package when she lost her seat. Contrast that financial cushion with the lot of many Irish people, not least the unfortunate young who are daily making what are in many cases tear-stained forced exits from a country that has utterly failed them.

It beggars belief.

 

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