“Utter fucking chaos” (Fianna Fáil)

Those were the words used by one witness in describing last night’s six hour meeting of the Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members, as reported by Ivan Yates on Newstalk (comments are passim through the podcast, but check out Parts 3 and 4 in particular).

The Oireachtas group were discussing policy regarding the Presidential election, which Fianna Fáil had already decided not to contest. It appeared that the party had already squeezed sufficient and significant negative mileage out of not contesting the Presidential election by trying to recruit Gay Byrne whilst ignoring internal candidates like Brian Crowley and Eamonn Ó Cuiv.

Ó Cuiv, the deputy party leader, has been very reluctant to concede that the party wouldn’t stand a candidate, and, according to Mary O’Rourke, he at one stage declared he no longer wished to be deputy leader at last night’s meeting. A Fianna Fáil senator, Labhrás Ó Murchú (Director-General of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann) has now decided that he wants to run, with Mary O’Rourke suggesting that, as he is a right-wing conservative, his main intention is to block David Norris (or even a candidate backed by Sinn Féin) getting any nominations from members of Fianna Fáil.

Where all this leaves party leader Micheal Martin is unclear, since he has been desparately trying to put any Fianna Fáil aspirations to the Áras to bed for some time now. What is even odder is the minimal return the presidency offers as it is a non-political role and offers little tangible benefit to a winning party. 

But, to paraphrase Kissinger, presidential politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.

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