FG and FF should form a coalition – O'Herlihy
A COALITION of the two great centrist parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, now offers the greatest political potential at a time of unprecedented economic challenge.
That's the view of veteran broadcaster and long-time Fine Gael supporter Bill O'Herlihy.
He used the Michael Collins oration at Beal na mBlath to urge our two largest parties to put civil war divisions behind them and focus on common ground for a future coalition.
His plea came just three years after the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan became the first senior FF official to be invited to deliver the oration, a landmark annual event for FG.
Earlier this year, former Education Minister Mary O'Rourke (FF) argued that the time had come for the two parties to focus on their common political goals and shared policies.
"I believe a coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail has much to offer at a time of huge challenge for Ireland," Mr O'Herlihy said.
"I suspect the Irish people would like to see this development. I would like to see this development in a new political landscape true to the ideals of Collins."
Mr O'Herlihy, who served as an adviser to former Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald, said there was no better place to reconcile civil war divisions than at the west Cork ambush site where Collins was shot and killed on August 22, 1922.
"At Beal na mBlath we cannot forget these events and the tragedy and drama of those years, but I would argue here with you today that in most respects these are the preoccupations of yesteryear. For so long in Ireland we have been caught up with past battles.
"There can only be so many rematches; there comes a time when old fights can no longer teach us any more lessons.
"That, I hasten to say, is not to suggest that the values of Collins or those who took issue with him in the civil war can be disposed of in the dustbin of history."
Mr O'Herlihy said that both FF and FG have shared enormous common ground.
"Does it make sense to have the major parties tussling for power where, for so long, the width of a sheet of tissue paper scarcely separated their policies?
"How much more progress, how much more reform would be possible if senseless old historical divisions were eliminated?
"I know the political analysts have been labouring for decades trying to analyse the paradox of having the two best-supported political parties at loggerheads for generations over passions played out 80 years ago."
Mr O'Herlihy said that the economic, political and social challenges facing Ireland urgently demand change.
"We must learn from the past but we must also be instructed by the mistakes of our own generation.
"In the short term we have the current loss of our economic sovereignty to remind us that we have a big job ahead of us. It is a time for new politics; a start cannot begin quickly enough."