Fianna Fail as a 32 County Party

I’ve just found out that I’m featured on the front page of Daily Ireland today, as part of a follow up to their story yesterday about trouble within the SDLP. It is in connection to comments I have made in the past, and the ongoing campaign I have supported to see Fianna Fail organise as a party of a 32 county basis.

On this website, I try to focus on issues relating purely to Letterkenny as much as I can. In other places, for example on the Ogra Fianna Fail website, I have discussed in detail the benefits that Fianna Fail could receive, and the benefits it could bring to the political process both in the North and the South.

I am an ardent believer that it would benefit both Fianna Fail as a party, and the process in the North, for FF to become actively involved. There is a large constituency which has become disenfranchised with the SDLP, and doesn’t support the politics of Sinn Fein, that is being left without representation. I also believe FF has a lot to learn from getting back to being the “underdogs” in the political process. I am under no illusions- I know it would be a long, difficult fight for FF to gain popularity in the North, but I believe that would be extremely worthwhile for the party as an organisation.

These views are strongly supported within Fianna Fail, most notably within Ogra Fianna Fail. I’d also like to mention the contribution of the Eamon DeVelera cumann of Fianna Fail in Derry, organised by Louis Bradley, which has visited numerous Fianna Fail events and with whom I have met a number of times. I’d also like to acknowledge David McCann, who has shown great commitment to seeing FF organised in and around Belfast. I have spoken at an Ogra FF information evening in Queens University in Belfast (an event which was covered in the press here in Donegal) and I know from having attended the University of Ulster in Derry that there would be much support there for FF.

The bulk of the FF membership supports these ideals, as do many in power within the party. The reason for not organising in the North has been that the party did not want to destabilise the peace process by upsetting the delicate balance between the SDLP and SF. That balance is shifting, and the gap between the two parties is widening. I believe the time has come for definitive action from Fianna Fail on this issue.

I’ll post a link to the story here when it becomes available on the Daily Ireland website. If you have anything to say on it, you can leave a comment on this post.

Update:The article is now online at Daily Ireland’s website : Mayor calls on FF to organise in North

Update: Daily Ireland has a follow-up piece on the article above: FF Northern Committee not ‘moving issue forward’

24 thoughts on “Fianna Fail as a 32 County Party

  1. Damian
    Your front page position notwithstanding, I’m surprised to see an FF man buying into a Daily Ireland agenda.

    I agree with many of your sentiments, but I’m afraid you, like Eddie Espie and Martin Morgan are only being used by Daily Ireland to try and undermine Durkan at a time that he’s growing in strength.

    Anyways, nice site.

  2. It’s not really about agendas; the Daily Ireland reporter rang me for my opinion, and I gave him my honest opinion.

    I don’t really see this as an SDLP issue; I believe that FF should be moving North as an independent party. I know nothing about Espie and Morgan, and have not said that we should be going in with them.

    The SDLP difficulties are theres to resolve; the debate on FF organising in the North is a matter for FF members, like myself and the others I know support my position.

  3. Damien, I would love to see all the parties in the country organise across the 32 counties. I live in the glens of Antrim and would love to have the opportunity to vote for my president and vote for a TD. The chances of the person I would vote for in County Antrim being elected to the Dail would be slim as it is a majority unionist electorate, but that’s democracy. I would at least like a vote. As for FF, I would certainly welcome them to all Ireland politics. They are seen by many nationalists in Antrim as a right of centre party and would therefore pose more of a threat to the SDLP than Sinn Fein, however, the all Ireland organisation of Sinn Fein appeals to all classes of nationalism in the north and SF have certainly picked up more middle class votes in recent years. These voters may prefer FF if it was an all Ireland party.

  4. Damien, you said, “It’s not really about agendas; the Daily Ireland reporter rang me for my opinion, and I gave him my honest opinion.”

    I don’t doubt that you were entirely honest in how you dealt with this, but if you think ‘it’s not really about agendas’, you need to spend a bit more time reading Daily Ireland or have a word with the FF press office.

    I’m sorry to tell you that Daily Ireland is only about agendas – anti-SDLP and anti-Fianna Fail.

    I agree that there is merit in the position that FF should organise in the North and like you I know many within the party who share that view. But the DI call to you yesterday and your front page position this morning had nothing to do with that debate.

    When you tread into NI politics, tread carefully.

  5. Urguhart,

    I accept what you’re saying about DI having an agenda. I don’t doubt for one second that it does- it’s blatantly obvious from any edition what they’re goals are. Even the fact that my piece was on the front page says something about it.

    I’d like to make it clear, however, that I also have my own agenda. I’m a passionate believer that FF should have organised in the North long ago, and that it falls to those of us in the border counties particularly to keep the agenda alive. I think the piece in DI has helped keep the debate going. I don’t believe it will sway the party hierarchy too much, but at least it has people talking about the issue.

    Yes, Daily Ireland has a very definite agenda. I could never deny that (nor could the paper for that matter). But I think the recent piece has helped the FF/North agenda too.

  6. “I think the recent piece has helped the FF/North agenda too”. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one Damien.

    The medium is very often just as important as the meesage and I suggest all you have done with this one is piss off those who are trying to build support among the very people FF would need if it was trying to become something credible in the North.

    As I said, when you tread into NI politics, tread carefully. But there you are.

  7. Fair play damien

    Reading this article has conviced me to rejoin FF and i hope to see you in belfast soon.

    Also thanks for giving me a mention on your site.

  8. Urquhart, I appreciate your comments, and you’re right, we’re going to have to disagree. Many of the people I have discussed this with (including those in the North) are glad to see this being covered in the press again.

    David, Thanks for your comments and it’s good to see you coming back on board. I hope we can make something happen with it this time!

  9. Damien and David

    I am originally from Dublin but live in Belfast. I was a member of Ogra Fianna Fail at UCD. Still interested in politics I find little appeal in either SF or SDLP for reasons I won’t go into here. I recently wrote to Bertie Ahern with respect to FF organising on a 32 county basis. He gave the current party line but advised that I join the party as an individual member. This I have done (as has my fiancee) but obviously I would like to be able to vote Fianna Fail and be a member of a cumann.

    Are there any unofficial FF gatherings in Belfast that I could attend? How do I find out about them?

    Feargal

  10. Fergal, i live in north belfast and id be happy to meet up with you and see what we can do together.

    I was recently talking with friends i have in FF and id be happy to get something sorted out.

    You can Email me at d_mccann1@hotmail.com

  11. David

    I have sent you an e-mail. Anyone else in Belfast that is interested in Fianna Fail then pse feel free to e-mail me at: fj.dalton@virgin.net

    John

    Read your letter in Daily Ireland. Agree with your points.

    Feargal

  12. If FF does decide to stand then it should only be in the PR elections so as to avoid handing seats to the Unionists. Nationalist constituencies are entitled to be represented by those reflective of their views on the constitutional question.

  13. Is FF organised in Derry? If so does anyone know how I can arrange to attend meetings? Eamonn

  14. Feargal,

    Just sent Eamonn and email with your address in it. I removed your email as placing it on a public page like this will usually lead to you getting a ridiciulous amount of spam. I currently receive about 1200 spam per day, which get caught between three different filters. It means I probably miss out on receiving some legitimate email, but it wouldn’t be possible to handle all that spam manually.

    Thanks for commenting,
    Damien

    (PS- If you want me to leave your address on display, just leave another comment with it below and I’ll let it stand)

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