If Fianna Fail is to re-establish their position as a powerhouse in Irish politics they need to beat Fine Gael to the future. I am worried that the current leadership in Fianna Fail are simply satisfied with the status quo, with a tendency to be more concerned about survival than political growth. Michael Martin’s fear of leaving the protection provided to him by the confidence and supply arrangement may well act to secure political stability, but this approach will not be rewarded by the average voter who has more immediate and pressing concerns than Brexit.
This week’s renegotiation of the infamous supply and confidence agreement offered Fianna Fail an opportunity to stamp their mark on the current administration. However, a demonstrably inept effort to negotiate a deal effectively offered Fine Gael a blank cheque, for the duration of this government, in return for nothing more than a promise to deliver on previously broken promises. Micheal Martin has proved once again that he does not understand the “Art of the Deal.” A pre-negotiation declaration that Fianna Fail would support the government through Brexit, “in the national interest,” cultured an environment where Fine Gael knew they needed to offer little more than a few shallow platitudes to keep the Leo show on the road.
This agreement had little to do with Brexit. It was designed to buy extra time for a leader who is not prepared to fight an election and was accepted by a governing party which doesn’t need an election in the absence of any real opposition.
Fianna Fail is being reduced to a shadow of its former self because the party is taking its direction from a leader who has lost sight of its identity. Core values have been abandoned in an effort to “modernise” the party and this has led to a disconnect between the grassroots and its hierarchy. Micheal Martin’s style of leadership is absent of courage he has allowed the mainstream media dictate his stance on all social issues, rejecting the views of the vast majority of the party’s membership and supporters. In this relentless push to promote a liberal agenda, Michael Martin has singularly disenfranchised the party’s traditional supporters for no political gain.
Leaders without vision fail and Fianna Fail’s problem is that its current leadership is lacking in vision. Michael Martin is failing in his job to align the organisation around a clear and achievable vision. By refusing to take up his role as leader of the opposition he has stymied political debate and has caused his membership to become disillusioned.
Unless a new leader rises to the challenge, with a renewed vision for the future of this island, I fear that Fianna Fail is destined to become a spent force in the Irish political landscape.