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Savage i: FG lacks FF's belief that it should be in power

A lot of people are talking about the demise of Fianna Fail. About the end of civil-war politics. About how FF may not be able to rebuild.

All of which is daft. It's true FF has problems, the biggest of them are financial; State funding will be down because of the smaller size of the party and corporate donations will go if Fine Gael deliver on its promises.

But such a challenge does not necessitate an epitaph. People queued up in 2002 to bury the blueshirts. Two elections later it has had the biggest success in its history. And it did not have the one major advantage that FF has; Fianna Fail thinks it should be in government.

Fine Gael, until this election, was used to being in opposition. It was ambitious, but not panicked and rabid with hunger for power. Fianna Fail, however, believe in its bones that it is the party of government.

Every day it goes into the Dail and sits in opposition, it won't see people sitting in the government's seats, it'll see people sitting in what it believes to be its seats.

This attitude has always made Fianna Fail oppositions hate the government. Viscerally, passionately hate it. And hate is a motivator without parallel.

  • Vincent Browne (inset right) on TV3 has invented a new game for viewers overwhelmed with count statistics; the game had its first airing on Saturday night and consisted of a panel exasperating Garret FitzGerald.

The game began with the economist Constantin Gurdgiev setting out his views about what should be done about the banks. This has nothing to do with election coverage, but Constantin is brought on to Vincent's show at least once a week to give his views on the banks.

The views don't change. But no-one seems to understand them. Joe Higgins, on Saturday's panel, was one of those who clearly doesn't understand what Constantin says, because he attacked the economist for being in total agreement with him.

It was at this point that the exasperation of Garret began. When another panelist began to talk about global geo-political shifts, the former Taoiseach squeaked and shrank in his seat.

Then Vincent launched at him, asking if the whole situation with the banks was 'fair'. Garret was so fed up that he ignored him, at which point Vincent told him "not to be so dismissive" (pot? Kettle?) and asked him again.

Dr FitzGerald squished down so much that his jacket lapels touched his ears and he slid slightly out of his chair. When he finished batting Browne away, the other panelist, Peter Matthews, gave Garret a little lecture on the banks in the midst of which Fitzgerald sighed, leant his head on his own shoulder and whispered "oh dear". Vincent then closed the show, one assumes because of the clear danger that the former Taoiseach would soon liquefy under the pressure of his intellectual frustration.