Definitions

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Fianna Fáil

[foil, fahyl]
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party (Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), shortened to Fianna Fáil is currently the largest political party in the Republic of Ireland with 72,000 members. It is currently the leading party in a coalition government with the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats, which also has the support of three Independent TDs. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated by the party into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a literal translation is Soldiers of Fál [a pre-Christian personification of Ireland].

From its establishment in the early twentieth century, the party moved from being a radical, centre-left party, to becoming the dominant established, broadly centrist party, its influence dominating government and Irish political life from the 1930s onwards. It has been the largest party in Dáil Éireann since 1932, and has formed the government seven times since Ireland gained independence in 1921: 1932–48, 1951–54, 1957–73, 1977–81, 82, 1987–94, and since 1997. Electorally, Fianna Fáil is second only to the Swedish Social Democratic Party in its proportion of tenure in government.

In the European Parliament, Fianna Fáil is a leading member of Union for Europe of the Nations, a small right-of-centre nationalist grouping. European political commentators have often noted substantive ideological differences between the party and its groupmates, whose strongly conservative stances have at times prompted domestic criticism of Fianna Fáil. Party headquarters, over the objections of some MEPs, has made several attempts to sever the party's links to the European right, most recently an aborted 2004 agreement to join the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, with whom it already sits at the Council of Europe.

Leader and President

Although the posts of leader and party president of Fianna Fáil are separate, with the former elected by the Parliamentary Party and the latter elected by the Ardfheis (thus allowing for the posts to be held by different people, in theory), in practice they have always been held by the one person. However, as the Ardfheis may have already been held in any given year by the time a new leader is elected, the selection of the new party president might not take place until the subsequent year.

The following are the terms of office for the leader:

The chart below shows a timeline of Fianna Fáil leaders and the Presidents of the Executive Council and Taoisigh. The left bar shows all the leaders of Fianna Fáil, and the right bar shows the corresponding make-up of the Irish government at that time. The colours correspond to which party led the federal government (abbreviated as "Govern."). The last names of the respective heads of government are shown, and the Roman numeral stands for the cabinets.

ImageSize = width:400 height:500 PlotArea = width:350 height:450 left:50 bottom:50 Legend = columns:3 left:50 top:25 columnwidth:50

DateFormat = yyyy Period = from:1922 till:2008 TimeAxis = orientation:vertical ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:4 start:1924

  1. there is no automatic collision detection,
  2. so shift texts up or down manually to avoid overlap

Colors=

 id:CnaG value:rgb(0.135,0.206,0.250)    legend:CnaG
 id:FF   value:rgb(0.102,0.187,0.102)    legend:FF
 id:FG   value:rgb(0.102,0.153,0.255)    legend:FG

Define $dx = 25 # shift text to right side of bar Define $dy = -4 # adjust height

PlotData=

 bar:Leaders color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:S

 from:1926  till:1959 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF    text:Éamon de Valera
 from:1959  till:1966 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF    text:Seán Lemass
 from:1966  till:1979 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF    text:Jack Lynch
 from:1979  till:1992 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF    text:Charles Haughey
 from:1992  till:1994 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF    text:Albert Reynolds
 from:1994  till:2008 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF    text:Bertie Ahern
 from:2008  till:end  shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF    text:Brian Cowen

 bar:Govern. color:red width:25 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:7

 from:1922  till:1922 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:CnaG   text:W. Cosgrave I
 from:1922  till:1923 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:CnaG   text:W. Cosgrave II
 from:1923  till:1927 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:CnaG   text:W. Cosgrave III
 from:1927  till:1927 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:CnaG   text:W. Cosgrave IV
 from:1927  till:1930 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:CnaG   text:W. Cosgrave V
 from:1930  till:1932 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:CnaG   text:W. Cosgrave VI
 from:1932  till:1933 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:De Valera I
 from:1933  till:1937 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:De Valera II
 from:1937  till:1938 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:De Valera III
 from:1938  till:1943 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:De Valera IV
 from:1943  till:1944 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:De Valera V
 from:1944  till:1948 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:De Valera VI
 from:1948  till:1951 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FG     text:Costello I
 from:1951  till:1954 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:De Valera VII
 from:1954  till:1957 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FG     text:Costello II
 from:1957  till:1959 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:De Valera VIII
 from:1959  till:1961 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Lemass I
 from:1961  till:1965 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Lemass II
 from:1965  till:1966 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Lemass III
 from:1966  till:1969 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Lynch I
 from:1969  till:1973 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Lynch II
 from:1973  till:1977 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FG     text:L. Cosgrave
 from:1977  till:1979 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Lynch III
 from:1979  till:1981 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Haughey I
 from:1981  till:1982 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FG     text:FitzGerald I
 from:1982  till:1982 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Haughey II
 from:1982  till:1987 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FG     text:FitzGerald II
 from:1987  till:1989 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Haughey III
 from:1989  till:1992 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Haughey IV
 from:1992  till:1993 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Reynolds I
 from:1993  till:1994 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Reynolds II
 from:1994  till:1997 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FG     text:Bruton
 from:1997  till:2002 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Ahern I
 from:2002  till:2007 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Ahern II
 from:2007  till:2008 shift:($dx,$dy)    color:FF     text:Ahern III
 from:2008  till:end shift:($dx,$dy)     color:FF     text:Cowen

For information on leadership elections, see:

History

Fianna Fáil was founded on 23 March 1926, and adopted its name on 2 April of the same year. It was founded by Éamon de Valera, former Príomh Aire (prime minister & president of Dáil Éireann (April 1919–August 1921) and President of the Republic (August 1921–January 1922). De Valera resigned from the presidency in January 1922 over the Anglo-Irish Treaty which created the Irish Free State. He led anti-Treaty Sinn Féin during the Irish Civil War (1922–23) before resigning from the party in 1926, in protest at the party's hard-line policy of abstentionism, the refusal to accept the legitimacy of the Free State or Dáil Éireann. Though his new party, Fianna Fáil, was also opposed to the Treaty settlement, it adopted a different approach of aiming to republicanise the Irish Free State rather than claiming all that had happened between 1922 and 1926 was invalid and that one could simply turn the clock back to the days of the direct British rule and start the Independence process again.

Fianna Fáil initially refused to enter the Irish Free State's Dáil Éireann in protest at the Oath of Allegiance which all members of the Dáil were obliged to take. (The Oath, which was contained in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, was drafted by Michael Collins, using phraseology taken from the Irish Republican Brotherhood's Oath and suggestions from de Valera, then President of the Republic. In its final form, it promised "allegiance" to "The Irish Free State" and "that I will be faithful" to King George V in his role as King of Ireland, "in virtue of the common citizenship".) The party initially took a court case on the issue of the oath. However the assassination of the Cumann na nGaedhael Minister for Justice, Kevin O'Higgins, led the then government to introduce a new Bill, requiring all candidates to swear that they would take the oath if elected. (If they declined to give that guarantee, they would be ineligible to be candidates in any election.) Fianna Fáil abandoned its previous refusal to take the Oath, dismissed it as an "empty formula", and entered the Dáil.

The first party leader was Éamon de Valera. Other founding members included Seán Lemass (who became its second leader), Seán T. O'Kelly, P. J. Ruttledge and others, including the 1916 veteran Constance Markiewicz, who chaired the inaugural meeting at the La Scala Theatre. Its initial appeal was to anti-treaty supporters and working class people, and it originally had a high proportion of women on its executive.

De Valera (1926–59)

On 9 March 1932 Éamon de Valera was elected President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State. It was a position he was to hold for twenty one years, sixteen of which were uninterrupted. During his first term de Valera weakened the links between the Free State and Britain. The ban on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was lifted, the Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown was abolished and the office of Governor-General was greatly demoted. De Valera also started an economic war with Britain by withholding land annuity payments and by placing high tariffs on British imports such as coal. The British responded by placing tariffs on Irish goods such as agricultural produce. This "tit for tat" policy, which was disastrous for the Irish economy, would last until 1938 when the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement was signed.

In May 1936 de Valera abolished the Irish Senate. At that time he also announced his intention to draw up a new constitution. On 1 July 1937 the Irish people adopted the new Bunreacht na hÉireann. This new constitution was republican in all but name. The constitution claimed that the state consisted of the entire island of Ireland and the office of Governor-General was replaced by the President of Ireland. De Valera was able to succeed with this tactic as the 1930s had seen a change in Britain's relationship with her colonies. The Statute of Westminster had declared a national law to be as valid as one from Westminster, and so the Houses of Commons/Lords no longer had a role in turning National bills into Law. It was a delicate political move but one which de Valera managed to execute without major disruption.

In 1939 at the outbreak of World War II de Valera announced that Ireland would remain neutral. Fine Gael TD James Dillon was alone in advocating an alliance with the United Kingdom. This policy infuriated the British; however, Ireland's neutrality strongly favoured the Allies. Following the 1948 general election Fianna Fáil lost power. They returned in 1951 but no new ideas emerged from the Cabinet. Seán Lemass was eager to launch a new economic policy but the conservative elements in the government prevailed. Fianna Fáil lost power again in 1954.

In 1957 de Valera returned for the final time as Taoiseach. At this stage he was 75 years old and almost blind. However, he allowed Lemass to proceed with his economic expansion plan. This culminated in the 'Programme for Economic Expansion' of 1958. In 1959 Dev (as he was popularly called) was elected the third President of Ireland. His successor was his Tánaiste, Seán Lemass.

Lemass (1959–66)

Seán Lemass became the new leader of the Party and Taoiseach on 23 June 1959 (the same day de Valera became President). Lemass as Taoiseach concentrated his energy on mainly economic matters. He had the task of implementing the 'First Programme for Economic Development' which began in 1958. The policy of Protectionism was abandoned and free trade was introduced. Grants and tax concessions were given to companies who set up in Ireland. As a result of the 'Programme' the Irish economy grew at a rate of 4% per annum. A second, even more ambitious, 'Programme for Economic Expansion' was started in 1963.

Lemass' success in managing the economy led to his victory in the 1961 general election. Lemass now felt that he had a greater mandate and began making more changes. He introduced a new wave of fresh and more modern thinkers to the Cabinet, including Brian Lenihan, Charles Haughey, George Colley and Patrick Hillery. Even though this was a minority government it is considered by many the best and most productive government in the history of the state.

The sixties were a time of great change in Ireland. In 1961 RTÉ television began broadcasting, opening up a new world to the Irish people. The following year the Second Vatican Council led to - according to its supporters - greater openness in the Roman Catholic Church, which was still a major force in Ireland. In 1963 the U.S President John F. Kennedy visited Ireland. In 1966 free secondary education was announced by the Minister for Education, Donogh O'Malley.

During this term Lemass began a new policy of reconciliation with Northern Ireland. On 9 January 1965, Lemass travelled to Stormont in great secrecy for talks with Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Terence O'Neill. In February O'Neill returned the compliment and visited Lemass in Dublin. Later meetings between ministers from both sides of the border became more frequent. Unfortunately, the lavish celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1966 offended many unionists.

In November 1966 Lemass announced his resignation as leader and Taoiseach. After fifty years serving Ireland and its people, the founding fathers, Seán Lemass, Seán MacEntee and James Ryan, who had dominated Irish politics for so long, left the stage of history. After their departure a new breed of politics and politician was developing. This can be seen in the leadership race to succeed Lemass as Taoiseach.

Lynch (1966–79)

Jack Lynch was elected the third leader of Fianna Fáil and Taoiseach on 10 November 1966. Frank Aiken, the long-serving Minister for Foreign Affairs and the only surviving member from de Valera's first Cabinet, was appointed Tánaiste. During Lynch's first term as Taoiseach he faced several crises which were unprecedented. In 1969 the Troubles broke out in Northern Ireland. Lynch was determined that the violence would not spread to the Republic and cause a civil war. At the height of the violence he made a famous speech on RTÉ saying that the [Irish] government could no longer stand by and watch innocent people be injured or perhaps worse. Many thought that the Republic was about to invade the North, and contingency plans were drawn up by the Irish Army to take Derry and Newry. These were never implemented, as it was believed that to invade the North would have triggered the slaughter of countless Catholics at the hands of their heavily-armed unionist neighbours. Lynch was mostly successful in confining the violence to Northern Ireland. He also established centres to process Catholic refugees.

The following year (1970) Lynch discovered that two government ministers, Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney, had apparently become involved in a plot to import arms for use by the Provisional IRA. Both men were sacked from the Cabinet in what became known as the Arms Crisis. Later Haughey and Blaney were arrested and put on trial, however, both were acquitted. The crisis led to deep division within Fianna Fáil for some time.

On 1 January 1973, Ireland officially became a member of the European Economic Community (EEC). This was one of the major achievements of Lynch's terms as Taoiseach and one which was started by Lemass over ten years earlier. Following the 1973 general election Fianna Fáil found themselves in opposition. It was the first change of government for sixteen years. The Fine GaelLabour Party coalition lasted for four years.

In the 1977 general election Fianna Fáil won its biggest ever election victory with a majority of twenty seats. The reasons for its huge victory were the populist economic policies it put forward, the dissatisfaction with the Coalition, the huge popularity of Lynch as leader, and the attempted gerrymander of many constituencies by Minister Tully. However after two years the government grew more and more unpopular. Poor results in the European elections and two by-elections added to the pressure on Lynch and he resigned on 5 December 1979. Two days later a two-horse leadership race between George Colley and Charles Haughey developed.

Haughey (1979–92)

Nine years after the 'Arms Crisis' nearly ended his career Charles Haughey was elected the fourth leader of Fianna Fáil and Taoiseach. Haughey's first term as Taoiseach was dominated by economic problems. Ireland's economy was in a poor state following the oil crisis and foreign debt was spiralling out of control. In the 1981 general election Fianna Fáil received its worst result in twenty years. Haughey and Fianna Fáil found themselves in opposition.

1982/1983 was an extraordinary period for Irish politics. Two general elections were held and there were three attempts to overthrow Haughey as leader of Fianna Fáil. In the February 1982 general election Haughey again failed to win a majority. Several TDs led by Desmond O'Malley challenged Haughey for the leadership but backed down on the day of the vote. Haughey was elected Taoiseach with the help of Independent TDs. In October another attempt to oust Haughey was initiated by Charlie McCreevy. This time the issue was put to a vote but Haughey won easily when an open vote was held. Following the November 1982 general election Fianna Fáil lost power and another leadership battle loomed in Fianna Fáil. In February 1983 another challenge to overthrow Haughey was made. This time a secret ballot was held but the result was practically the same, 40 votes to 33 in favour of Haughey. Fianna Fáil then spent four years in opposition.

Following the 1987 general election Fianna Fáil returned to power but had failed to gain an overall majority. Haughey was narrowly elected Taoiseach. During this term as Taoiseach Haughey concentrated mostly on economic issues, trying to turn around the country's fiscal situation. By that time, Ireland was the sick man of Western Europe and barely escaped having the International Monetary Fund (IMF) take over the economy. In 1989 Haughey tried to pull off what would have been his greatest achievement. He called an early general election in the hope of gaining an overall majority. However, instead of gaining seats Fianna Fáil lost seats and was forced to form a coalition with the Progressive Democrats, a political offshoot, to stay in power. Fianna Fáil had always ruled out coalition government beforehand, and many in the party were unhappy with Haughey's volte-face. This marked the beginning of the end for Haughey.

Following the 1990 presidential election Haughey was forced to sack his Tánaiste and long-time friend, Brian Lenihan. In 1991 Haughey faced a leadership challenge from Albert Reynolds. This challenge was unsuccessful, but it showed that Haughey was losing his grip on the party. In 1992 Seán Doherty placed Haughey at the centre of a scandal regarding the tapping of two journalists' telephones ten years earlier. Haughey had always maintained that he knew nothing about this, but Doherty publicly stated otherwise. This time Haughey's luck had run out and he resigned. Albert Reynolds, who had challenged Haughey in 1991, emerged as the new leader of Fianna Fáil and Taoiseach.

Reynolds (1992–94)

On 11 February 1992, Albert Reynolds was elected Taoiseach. After receiving his seal of office from President Mary Robinson he announced his new Cabinet. Reynolds sacked eight members of Haughey's last administration including Gerard Collins and Ray Burke. Reynolds' cabinet contained many new faces and left much of the 'old guard' out in the cold. Reynolds had hoped to continue in coalition with the Progressive Democrats, however, following the Beef Tribunal the PDs withdrew from government and an election was called.

When the results of the 1992 general election came in it was clear that both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had done badly. Labour achieved their best ever result with 33 seats. After negotiations Fianna Fáil entered into a coalition with the Labour Party. Dick Spring of the Labour Party took on the important roles of Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

One of the most important components of Reynolds's period as Taoiseach was the Northern Ireland peace process. The agreement paved the way for an IRA ceasefire in 1994. This was one of the most important achievements of Reynolds's short term.

In 1994 Reynolds and Spring had a disagreement over an appointment of a judge to the Irish Supreme Court. Both men wanted to appoint someone different and both had their own reasons for doing so, with Reynolds's approach to the whole affair causing concern among those who believed in appointing the best qualified candidate. Eventually this disagreement led to the end of Reynolds's period as Taoiseach and he resigned in November 1994. The new leader to emerge was the then Minister for Finance Bertie Ahern.

Ahern (1994–2008)

On 19 November 1994, Bertie Ahern was elected the sixth and youngest ever leader of Fianna Fáil. Ahern was poised to become Taoiseach and continue in coalition with the Labour Party. However, the day before the government was to return, Dick Spring called off the deal and the coalition ended. Instead the Labour Party helped form a new government led by Fine Gael. Ahern now found himself as leader of the opposition, a position which he had not anticipated. Following the 1997 general election, Fianna Fáil formed a government with the Progressive Democrats in which Bertie Ahern was Taoiseach.

The election of Tony Blair in Britain gave renewed hope of an agreement for peace in Northern Ireland, an issue that has traditionally always been an aspiration of Irish Governments. The work of Ahern and his government, as well as that of the relevant power bases in the UK and the US, culminated in the Good Friday Agreement. This agreement was signed by politicians from the Republic, supported by the opposition and politicians in Britain and Northern Ireland and ratified by the electorate on both sides of the Irish border.

During Ahern's first term Fianna Fáil faced increased criticism over payments to politicians. Ray Burke was forced to resign as Minister for Foreign Affairs due to payments made to him, and the late Liam Lawlor was also being investigated over payments he received. Both were eventually jailed. Also, the Moriarty Tribunal revealed details of former leader Charles Haughey's financial affairs.

The results of the 2002 general election left Fianna Fáil short of achieving an overall majority. Fianna Fáil continued in coalition with the Progressive Democrats. It was the first time since 1969 that an Irish government had been re-elected.

In the local elections in 2004, the Fianna Fáil vote dropped significantly, mainly due to bad feeling following budgetary cut-backs required during a short slow down in the economy that followed the events of 9/11.

In response to this, some shifts in policy and a cabinet reshuffle took place in September 2004, including Charlie McCreevy's resignation as Finance minister to join the European Commission.

In November 2004, despite a common perception that the FF/PD Government of over 7 years at that stage represented a considerable shift to the right of Irish Politics, Ahern famously called himself 'one of the few socialists left'.

Fianna Fáil won 78 seats in the 2007 general election, while their coalition partners, the Progressive Democrats, lost six seats. After the election Fianna Fáil entered into a coalition with the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats, while also being supported by a number of independent TDs. Ahern was re-elected as Taoiseach on 14 June 2007 for a third term. Ahern gave testimony to the Mahon Tribunal in September 2007 about monies received by him, as large cash sums, in the 1990s. Ahern survived a subsequent vote of no confidence in his leadership in the Dáil, the first "no confidence" Dáil motion debated since 1994.

In December 2007, Fianna Fáil was officially registered as a political party in Northern Ireland.

On 2 April 2008, Ahern announced his resignation from the leadership of Fianna Fáil, effective on 6 May 2008.

Cowen (2008–present)

Following the 2008 leadership election Brian Cowen succeeded Ahern as leader of Fianna Fáil on 6 May 2008 and was appointed Taoiseach on 7 May 2008.

Presidential nominations

Of Ireland's eight presidents, six either were in Fianna Fáil governments or nominated by Fianna Fáil. Only Douglas Hyde (1938–1945) and Mary Robinson (1990–1997) had no connection with Fianna Fáil. Hyde, though appointed to Seanad Éireann by de Valera in 1938, was originally a nominee proposed by Fine Gael (but immediately enthusiastically endorsed by Fianna Fáil) while Robinson was a Labour Party nominee who defeated a Fianna Fáil candidate, Brian Lenihan. The president on election is apolitical.

Corruption

The party, along with its coalition partners, was re-elected in the 2002 general election. It has however been hit by numerous scandals. (Founding father Frank Aiken refused to run in the 1973 general election because the party had Haughey as a candidate while first leader Éamon de Valera told a senior minister in 1970 that "Haughey will ruin the party.") While Fine Gael have not proved themselves immune to graft, Fianna Fáil has been the object of a greater number of allegations and media attention.

Another former minister, Ray Burke, whom Ahern appointed to cabinet for a short time in 1997, was recently explicitly described by retired High Court judge, Fergus Flood in a tribunal of inquiry as "corrupt", and was jailed in January 2005 for tax offences. The privileged treatment accorded to Burke in prison was subsequently widely criticised, especially by Fine Gael.

Former Fianna Fáil Government Press Secretary Frank Dunlop is currently giving evidence to a tribunal of inquiry in relation to his allegations that long-serving Fianna Fáil senators took bribes to arrange for planning permissions to be granted to particular property developers. Other councillors (past and present) from a number of parties, but predominantly from Fianna Fáil, are expected to be named. However the tribunal has yet to judge the credibility or otherwise of Dunlop and his evidence.

Former Fianna Fáil TD, Liam Lawlor was also accused of corrupt practices in relation to planning and development. He was jailed repeatedly for refusal to cooperate with the tribunal. He did not resign his Lucan seat and continued to attend the Dáil, returning to Mountjoy Prison after the sessions, where he enjoyed most of the same privileges as Mr. Burke. Another TD, Beverley Cooper-Flynn of Mayo, was forced to resign from the party when it was revealed that she had advised people on how to illegally evade tax while working as a financial adviser for National Irish Bank. She was readmitted when she threatened to run as an Independent candidate, expelled again after she lost a libel action against RTÉ, and readmitted unanimously to the party shortly after Ahern's resignation.

On 8 December 2005, Ivor Callely TD resigned his junior ministerial post after RTÉ News reported that a building contractor involved in public contracts had painted his house for free in the early 1990s. It was also revealed that Callely had offered to personally buy a new car for one of his civil service advisers, in an attempt to persuade the adviser not to leave their job. Apparently, Callely's department had an unusually high turnover of staff for some time under his stewardship.

Bertie Ahern, in September 2006 admitted having received payments from "friends" in the early 1990s which he termed as a combination of loans and gifts totaling £48,000 while serving as Minister for Finance. Damaged by the controversy initially, which included admissions of appointing friends to state boards and not having a bank account while serving as Minister for Finance, support for the party in opinion polls rose after Ahern described the circumstances of the payments to the public in an interview with RTÉ television. Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds stated in a radio interview on RTÉ that he would have told Ahern that taking such payments was totally unacceptable. As the then Taoiseach he should have been informed by Ahern and would have been very clear that accepting the payments was wrong. He said that many other options were open to Ahern such as getting a bank loan. After the payments controversy, polling data suggested that Bertie Ahern's increase in popularity due to the payments controversy was primarily a sympathetic reaction.

In September 2007, Ahern testified over a four day period at the Mahon Tribunal about these payments and his explanations under oath varied from day to day, being described by one of the sitting judges as "polar opposite

Entry into Northern Ireland politics

On 17 September 2007 Fianna Fáil announced that the party would, for the first time, organise in Northern Ireland. Ahern said that, "it is time now for this Party to play its full role, to take its proper place, in this new politics - in this New Ireland. Only now, with the Northern Executive and Assembly in place. Only now, that we have convinced all but the dissident fringe of nationalism to embrace peace. Only now, that the two great traditions on this island are reconciled, can we take this historic move. To that end, today I am announcing that Fianna Fáil, the Republican Party, will now move to develop a strategy for organising on a thirty-two county basis. This move reflects the dramatic changes we have seen across the island". Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, is to chair a committee on the matter: "In the period ahead Dermot Ahern will lead efforts to develop that strategy for carrying through this policy, examining timescales and structures. We will act gradually and strategically. We are under no illusions. It will not be easy. It will challenge us all. But I am confident we will succeed,"

The party embarked on its first ever recruitment drive north of the border on the 25th and 26th of September in northern universities, and established two 'Political Societies', the William Drennan Cumann in Queens University, Belfast, and the Watty Graham Cumann in UU Magee, Derry.

Bertie Ahern announced on 7 December 2007 that Fianna Fáil had been registered in Northern Ireland by the UK Electoral Commission . There has been speculation about an eventual merger with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), formerly the main Irish nationalist party in Northern Ireland, but now smaller than Sinn Féin. This has been met with a mixed reaction with former Deputy Leader of the SDLP, Seamus Mallon, stating he would be opposed to any such merger. On 23 February 2008, it was announced that a former UUP councillor, Colonel Harvey Bicker, had joined FF.

Ógra Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil have an active youth wing called Ógra Fianna Fáil. They were formed in the mid 1970s and play an active role in party matters, recruiting members and working on election campaigns. The current elected head of Ógra is Paul Mullally who serves as Leas-Cathaoirleach Ógra. Dara Calleary TD is the nominated head or Cathaoirleach of Ógra Fianna Fáil, having been appointed by the President of Fianna Fáil, Bertie Ahern, in 2005.

Ógra also plays an important role in the party organisation where it currently has six representatives on the Ard Chomhairle.

Further reading

  • Joe Ambrose (2006) Dan Breen and the IRA, Douglas Village, Cork : Mercier Press, 223 p., ISBN 1-85635-506-3
  • Bruce Arnold (2001) Jack Lynch: Hero in Crisis, Dublin : Merlin, 250p. ISBN 1-903582-06-7
  • Tim Pat Coogan (1993) De Valera : long fellow, long shadow, London : Hutchinson, 772 p., ISBN 0-09-175030-X
  • Joe Joyce and Peter Murtagh (1983) The Boss: Charles J. Haughey in government, Swords, Dublin : Poolbeg Press, 400 p., ISBN 0-905169-69-7
  • F.S.L. Lyons (1985) Ireland Since the Famine, 2nd rev. ed., London : FontanaPress, 800 p., ISBN 0-00-686005-2
  • Dorothy McCardle (1968) The Irish Republic. A documented chronicle of the Anglo-Irish conflict and the partitioning of Ireland, with a detailed account of the period 1916-1923, etc., 989 p., ISBN 0-552-07862-X
  • T. Ryle Dwyer (2001) Nice fellow : a biography of Jack Lynch, Cork : Mercier Press, 416 p., ISBN 1-85635-368-0
  • T. Ryle Dwyer (1999) Short fellow : a biography of Charles J. Haughey, Dublin : Marino, 477 p., ISBN 1-86023-100-4
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, (1997) Fallen Idol : Haughey's controversial career, Cork : Mercier Press, 191 p., ISBN 1-85635-202-1
  • Raymond Smith (1986) Haughey and O'Malley : The quest for power, Dublin : Aherlow, 295 p., ISBN 1-87013-800-7
  • Tim Ryan (1994) Albert Reynolds : the Longford leader : the unauthorised biography, Dublin : Blackwater Press, 226 p., ISBN 0-86121-549-4
  • Dick Walsh (1986) The Party : inside the Fianna Fáil, Dublin : Gill & Macmillan, 161 p., ISBN 0-7171-1446-5

References

See also

External links

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