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Eamon O’Cuiv says: I am against this proposed coalition

Enjoyable historical echoes here. It is always risky, after all, if you’re a fella called Mick from Cork, to sign a historic agreement without the approval of the head of the DeValera family. Let’s hope Mr. Martin knows what he is doing:

FIANNA Fáil stalwart Éamon Ó Cúiv has urged Irish language enthusiasts and supporters of the Gaeltacht to reject the proposed three-party coalition.

The former Gaeltacht Minister, and grandson of party founder Eamon de Valera, has said the new government programme lacks any detail on the Irish language, Irish-speaking areas, and the off-shore islands.

The former party deputy leader has been critical of coalition moves recently, a critic of the party direction for some years, and has warned of a rejection of coalition by party grassroots. He has become the most senior party member to reject the three-party coalition plan endorsed by the party leaders earlier today.

The rationale for O’Cuiv taking this position – that he’s so concerned about the Irish language, above all other things – is, well, interesting. It’s true, he’s always been an admirably ferocious advocate for the Gaeltacht regions (many of which lie in his constituency) and the language at large, but are the proposed Government’s policies on Irish really that bad? Here’s what they say:

Nothing massively radical in there, true enough, but nothing so different than the policies of the three Bertie Ahern led Governments that O’Cuiv was happy enough to serve as a cabinet minister in.

It carries echoes, too, of his Grandfather’s opposition to the treaty establishing the state, in that it stakes out a position of high principle, dear to the heart of the most ardent patriot, to justify opposition to a distastefully pragmatic deal. Nobody can accuse O’Cuiv, now, of making a simple political calculation, without receiving a stern talking to about the enduring importance of the Irish language as the living soul of the republic, or something. It is masterful, and in the best traditions of his noble family.

Will it have an impact, though? He’s not alone in Fianna Fáil, by any stretch of the imagination:

A group of over 50 (Fianna Fail) councillors have launched a campaign to “defeat” the newly agreed programme for government.

In a statement, the group calling themselves ‘Fairer Future’ insisted the agreement will not deliver change.

The councillors from Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Leitrim, Louth, Meath, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford said the document “confirmed their fears” that he new government will be a “continuation of status quo politics”.

That group claims to have 1,000 members, out of the 15,000 or so members of Fianna Fail, behind them. O’Cuiv, for his part, dominates a constituency, Galway West, which has more FF members than there are in the whole of Dublin.

It’s not hard, in short, to see how an organised campaign of resistance amongst the membership could get the “no” vote in FF to 35 or 40% very quickly.

Can the deal be defeated in the FF ballot though? It’s not impossible, and it may be a close run thing, but it’s hard to see. Remember, the largest single clusters of FF members these days come from Kerry, which has 1,700 members, and Cork, which has almost as many.

Cork people, as we know, will forgive a lot of things if they can only have a Cork Taoiseach, an honour they’ve been denied since the departure of Jack Lynch.

The only hope that there is in Fianna Fail, for those who oppose the coalition, is that people from Kerry realise how insufferable their Cork brethren will be if one of their own gets his mittens on the levers of power.



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