The leader of Fianna Fáil, Michéal Martin said that no discussions have taken place within the party, regarding the possible expulsion of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds following the publication of last week’s Mahon Report, which found that Mr Reynolds’ behaviour during his time in office had been “an abuse of political power and government authority.”
Deputy Martin was speaking in Longford last Thursday night, where he was present to honour four local Fianna Fáil stalwarts; Peter Kelly, Paddie Connellan, Jimmy Coyle and Pauline Foudy. He told local media that the actions of Mr Reynolds “could not be compared to those of Bertie Ahern and Padraig Flynn”, both of whom resigned from Fianna Fáil in the aftermath of the findings in respect of themselves in the Mahon Report. Mr Martin also pointed out that it was “regrettable” that Mr Reynolds had not been in a position to provide evidence to the Tribunal and highlighted that Mr Reynolds “legacy” in relation to the Peace Process in Northern Ireland would stand the test of time.
“Albert’s legacy in the peace process will never be forgotten; in fact I don’t believe that the Downing Street Declaration would ever have come about were it not for him,” the Fianna Fáil leader explained. “His approach to the Peace Process and his personality were admirable and the way in which he handled some of the issues was remarkable. It is regrettable that he, himself was not in a position to give evidence or testimony to the Mahon Tribunal.”
Deputy Martin went on to say that the Mahon Report highlighted “very clearly” that there was a “culture” throughout the 1980s and 1990s where parties sought political donations, “a culture” he added, “that under present day standards would not be tolerated”.
“We will examine the Report; there is no doubt that is significant in terms of its finds on corruption and corrupt payments and Bertie Ahern and Padraig Flynn have now resigned from the party because of those findings; we want to move on from this and rejuvenate the Fianna Fáil Party.”
For the past 12 months, Deputy Martin has travelled the length and breadth of Ireland, listening to and speaking with, the grassroot members of Fianna Fáil, in an effort to save the political face of what was once a party that was among some of the most influential political machines in Europe. “We have to react robustly to the findings in the Report and look at the damage that all this has done to the party; this has been one of the most damaging weeks in the party’s history and we must communicate in a positive way,” he added. “People feel betrayed by those that they put their trust in and that must be addressed. We want to open up the Party to welcome new members and more women and enhance the Party. I want to see a party with new ideas; a party that plays a significant role in local communities and above all I want honour and integrity in public life.”
When asked if he felt hurt by the actions of his predecessors, the Fianna Fáil leader replied, “Yes, I am hurt and I feel very let down as well. The party is tarnished by the conduct of some members and ministers and I feel that all the great work that has been done by the party is now put to one side because of all this, so yes, I am hurt”.