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Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil (pronounced fee-na fall and which means in gaelic 'Soldiers of Destiny') is the largest Irish political party. It was founded on March 23, 1926 and adopted its name on April 2 of the same year. It was founded by Eamon de Valera, former Príomh Áire (prime minister & president of Dáil Éireann (April 1919-August 1921) and President of the Republic (August 1921-January 1922). De Valera had resigned from the presidency in January 1922 over the Anglo-Irish Treaty which created the Irish Free State. He had led anti-Treaty Sinn Féin during the Irish Civil War (1922-23) before resigning from the party in 1926, in protest at the party's hardline policy of accepting refusing to accept the legitimacy Free State or it's Dáil Éireann. Though his new party, Fianna Fáil, was also opposed to the Treaty settlement, it adopted a more pragmatic approach of aiming to republicanise the Irish Free State rather than imagining all that had happened between 1922 and 1926 was invalid and that one could simply turn the clock back to the days of the Irish Republic.

Fianna Fáil initially refused to enter the Irish Free State's Dáil Éireann, (pronounced 'daill air-inn') in protest at the Oath of Allegiance which all members of the Dáil were obliged to take. (The Oath, which was contained in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, was drafted by Michael Collins, using phraseology taken the Irish Republican Brotherhood's Oath and suggestions from the President of the Republic, Eamon de Valera. In its final form, it promised 'allegiance' to 'The Irish Free State' and 'that I will be faithful' to King George V in his role as King of Ireland. ) The party initially took a court case on the issue of the oath. However the assassination of the Cumann na nGaedhael (pronounced 'come-on na gale)' Minister for Justice, Kevin O'Higgins[?], led the then government to introduce a new Bill, requiring all candidates to swear that they would take the oath if elected. (If they declined to give that guarantee, they would be ineligible to be candidates in any election.) Fianna Fáil abandoned its previous refusal to take the Oath, dismissing it as an "empty formula" and entered the Dáil.

The first party leader was Eamon de Valera. Other founding members included Sean Lemass (who became second leader), Sean T. Ó Ceallaigh surname pronounced 'o'kealla' (the english version is Sean T. O'Kelly), PJ. Ruttledge[?] and others. Its initial appeal was to anti-treaty supporters, small farmers, shop-keepers, etc. It first entered power in the Free State in 1932. In 1937 deV (as Eamon de Valera was known) introduced modern Ireland's third and most long lasting constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann (pronounced 'bun-rocked na hair-inn'). De Valera remained on as leader until 1959. He died in 1975.

Throughout the twentieth century, the party moved from the radical party slightly left of centre to become the establishment dominating politics for most of the time. It held office from 1932-1948; 1951-1954; 1957-1973; 1977-1981; 1982; 1987-1994; 1997-present;

Its list of leaders are:

Eamon de Valera (1926 - 1959)
Sean F. Lemass (1959 - 1966)
Jack Lynch (1966 - 1979)
Charles Haughey (1979 - 1991)
Albert Reynolds (1991 - 1994)
Bertie Ahern (1994 - present)

Of Ireland's eight presidents, six either were in Fianna Fáil or worked with Fianna Fáil governments. Only Douglas Hyde (1938-1945) and Mary Robinson (1990-1997) had no connection with Fianna Fáil. Hyde, though appointed to Seanad Éireann by de Valera in 1938 was originally a nominee proposed by Fine Gael (but immediately enthuastically endorsed by Fianna Fáil) while Robinson was a Labour[?] nominee who defeated a Fianna Fáil candidate,Brian Lenihan[?] who embroiled himself in a scandal midway through the campaign.

The party, along with its coalition partners, recently won a resounding victory in the 2002 general election. It has however been hit by scandal, namely the alleged mis-appropriation of funds, for which former leader Charles Haughey is expected to face trial soon. (Founding father Frank Aiken refused to run in the 1973 general election because the party had Haughey as a candidate while first leader Eamon de Valera told a senior minister in 1970 that "Haughey will ruin the party." )

Another former minister, Ray Burke, whom the current leader appointed to government for a short time in 1997, was recently explicitly described by retired High Court judge, Fergus Flood[?] in a tribunal of inquiry as "corrupt" and may well face prosecution seizure of assets and possible imprisonment. Former Fianna Fáil Government Press Secretary Frank Dunlop[?] is currently before the Flood Tribunal. In December 2002 he claimed a senior long-serving Fianna Fáil senator took bribes to arrange for planning permissions to be granted to particular property developers. Other councillors (past and present) from a number of parties, but predominantly from Fianna Fáil, are expected to be named. However the tribunal has yet to judge the credibility or otherwise of Dunlop and his evidence.

Additional Reading

  • Bruce Arnold, Jack Lynch: Hero in Crisis (ISBN 1903582067)
  • Tim Pat Coogan, Eamon de Valera (ISBN 009175030X)
  • Joe Joyce and Peter Murtagh, The Boss: Charles J. Haughey in Government (ISBN 0905169697)
  • FSL Lyons, Ireland Since the Famine
  • Dorothy McCardle, The Irish Republic
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, Nice Fellow: A Biography of Jack Lynch (ISBN 1856353680)
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, Short Fellow: A Biography of Charles J. Haughey (ISBN 1860231004)
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, '"Fallen Idol: Haughey's Controversial Career (ISBN 1856352021)
  • Raymond Smith, Haughey and O'Malley: The Quest for Power (ISBN 1870138007)
  • Tim Ryan, Albert Reynolds - The Longford Leader: The Unauthorised Biography (ISBN 0861215494)
  • Dick Walsh, The Party (ISBN 0717114465)

For constant reporting of the Flood Tribunal, check The Irish Times, Irish Independent and Irish Examiner on the web.

 

External Links

Web site: http://www.fiannafail.ie/



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