I read with great interest the Irish Times editorial of the March 22nd and agree strongly with many of the points raised. Fianna Fail has in two successive elections received a message from those voters who had supported us – the party must change. I was struck by the anger felt by former party supporters during the 2009 local elections and the disappointment from those same people in the recent general election, who felt that things had not changed.
Fianna Fáil will rebuild and I believe return in strong numbers, but it will only do so if we listen to the message from those people who once supported us. Our connections with community groups and local residents served us well for many years but the nature of our long years in government created a distance between these people and the leadership of our party. It is for this reason that I fully support Michéal Martin’s strategy in the Seanad elections. Not because of the candidates age but because they have heard directly the views of voters in two election campaigns. They know well what is needed to change our political system and they will approach national politics more informed by their recent experience as election candidates.
The experience of those senators who have served in Seanad Eireann for many years but who have not have stood in recent elections will be needed in the rebuilding of the party but I would suggest that they are not as well placed to voice the strong message which Fianna Fáil candidates were given in the recent general election.
It is for that reason that I will be giving my highest preference to recent candidates, followed by other Fianna Fail candidates and finally to good candidates from elsewhere. Politics has changed, the challenge for Fianna Fail will be to prove that we can also.