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Sunday 11 December 2016

Gerry O'Carroll: Another fine mess for the Soldiers of Destiny after Averil's very powerful exit

Averil Power
Averil Power
Panti at Dublin Castle
Bill O'Herlihy
Paul O'Connell
Joe Brolly

Napoleon Bonaparte famously preferred his generals to be lucky rather than good. The Soldiers of Destiny could be forgiven for recalling that remark this week in the context of their own general, Micheal Martin.

The party is clearing smarting in the wake of the shock departure from their ranks of Senator Averil Power.

Power was one of the party's brightest stars. Female, young, energetic and progressive, she represented a new generation for an organisation in dire need of fresh ideas and faces.

Her abrupt exit from the party, just 36 hours after Fianna Fail won the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election, and the reasons she gave for her decision, could have serious repercussions for leader Micheal Martin and Fianna Fail generally.

At her press conference Power launched a broadside attack against her former colleagues, accusing them of being out of touch and alleging that some members mocked her when she called for them to canvass for a 'Yes' vote in the recent same-sex marriage referendum.

She went on to deliver a withering critique of Martin's leadership of the party, stating that he is a leader without any followers.

This attack prompted a response from the Fianna Fail leader, who refuted Power's allegations and effectively accused her of sour grapes because she was not permitted to run as a sole candidate in the Dublin Bay North constituency in the next election.

Unfortunately for Martin, Ms Power's defection is just the latest in a number of recent resignations, following the exit of David McGuinness in Dublin West and Patrick McKee in Kilkenny.

Before the Power bombshell many Fianna Failers were reading the by-election win as a sign that the party was regrouping. So Power's exit could not have been timed worse.

Martin was no doubt hoping that the by-election win would end the seemingly constant sniping about his leadership of the party.

However, the bitter war of words that has erupted since Powers' departure has once again focused the spotlight on his leadership, how ever many party loyalists come out to defend him.

This week's events will now provide more fodder to Martin's detractors in the parliamentary party, with less than a year to go before the election.

Any political party who are flat-lining in the polls, while trying to re-brand, can ill afford to lose a Dail candidate the way Fianna Fail did this week.

Personally I've no doubt that Micheal Martin will lead Fianna Fail into the next election. More worrying than any doubts about his leadership should be Power's comments that the party is "simply not fit for government".

We know Fianna Fail still has a mountain to climb to convince the electorate that it's changed. In light of the Power bombshell it appears that it's having a bit of a job convincing itself.

 

Yes vote shows innate Irish sense of  justice and fairness is alive and well

DID you give yourself a clap on the back this week? You should have, particularly if you voted 'Yes' last Friday.

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Panti Bliss at Dublin Castle

The country voted by a large majority to introduce same-sex marriage. As a result Ireland has been feted around the world in recent days, our decision applauded.

So we can feel justly proud that Ireland now stands at the forefront of the worldwide movement for equal rights for LGBT people.

The scenes of euphoria and elation that we witnessed at Dublin Castle last Saturday, where the likes of Panti Bliss mixed with politicians and many, many delighted voters, mirrored the celebratory mood of most people around the country.

There was a feel-good factor that I haven't felt in a long time.

The resounding 'Yes' vote showed me one thing - the innate sense of fairness and justice that Irish people possess.

As such, it was not a surprise. When push came to shove we were never going to close the door to our fellow citizens.

Of course, a 'Yes' vote would have been unthinkable in the intolerant, priest-driven Ireland that we endured for much of the 20th century.

That's why last Friday's vote has forever changed the political and social landscape here.

It has heralded a sea-change and has confirmed that Ireland, for all its recent economic problems, is a modern, progressive and enlightened nation. We have indeed cast off the shackles of the past.

I am hopeful that, at the end of the day, the result of this referendum will usher in a new era of openness and diversity.

What better way to celebrate the centenary of 1916 next year?

 

O'Herlihy was a rare thing, a real TV sports icon

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Bill O'Herlihy

The words 'icon' and 'legend' are sometimes bandied around the sporting world without much justification.

But these terms justly and aptly describe the broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy, who passed away last Monday.

His sudden and untimely death has shocked and saddened the whole country. Bill was a gifted sports broadcaster, who had a long career on our TV screens, going back half a century.

He hosted ten World Cups and ten Olympic games, becoming a household name in the process.

For most of us he'll always be the affable referee in the midst of the heated panel discussions during many of Ireland's international soccer games. Dunphy, Giles and Brady could all have a great day at the office but unless Bill was there it just wasn't the same.

He was a national treasure. Rest in peace.

Hero

Rugby legend Paul O'Connell donned the red shirt of Munster for the last time at Thomond Park last Saturday.

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Paul O'Connell

O'Connell is a wonderful sportsman, a hero and a role model to many young people. The emotional scenes as he left the pitch at Thomond showed the high esteem in which he's held. Thanks for the memories, Paul.

Zero

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I was surprised and disappointed at the comments made by Joe Brolly on the Sunday Game last weekend. During a discussion with TV sports presenter Michael Lyster Brolly said that Cavan football is "as ugly as Marty Morrissey". This comment was out of order and Brolly's apologised. But he should never have uttered the words in the first place.

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