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Ó Cuív: Historic differences shouldn't stop Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael coalition debate

But the Fianna Fáíl TD and grandson of the party’s founder cautioned against going into coalition with Fine Gael after the next election as one former colleague of his suggested this week.

Éamon Ó Cuív
Éamon Ó Cuív
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

FIANNA FÁIL TD Éamon Ó Cuív has said that historic differences between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael should not stop debate on the possibility of the two parties forming a coalition government after the next general election.

The grandson of Fianna Fáil founder Éamon De Valera was responding to a proposal raised by the party’s former deputy leader Mary O’Rourke at a summer school in Northern Ireland this week.

Both parties have been divided historically by their stances on the Anglo-Irish Treaty with Fianna Fáil formed by de Valera in the wake of his and others’ opposition to the treaty which created the Irish Free State. The treaty was supported by those who would later form Fine Gael.

Ó Cuív told TheJournal.ie this week: “Historic differences are of very little relevance. If you are talking about what happened in 20s and the 30s, that has very little relevance in 2013.”

He said it that O’Rourke had raised a “great debate” and said he was looking forward to participating in it but said it should not be “rooted in the past”.

On the headline policies such as employment, social welfare and a good health service there is not much difference between any of the political parties in Ireland, he claimed, but added “when you dig deeper there are subtle differences”.

Not good for democracy

Despite being prepared to entertain the possibility, the Galway West TD said he would have a problem with a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael alliance on the basis of differences in their current policies.

He also said that coalitions have traditionally posed problems for Fianna Fáil.

“Our ethos got very significantly and disproportionately diluted,” Ó Cuív said. “When we were in with the PDs [Progressive Democrats], the individualistic approach to society and an approach that was about creating wealth and not distribution of wealth predominated.

“When we went in with the Greens, we were brought into all sorts of places, away from mainstream Fianna Fáil concerns and disproportionate amounts of time were spent on issues that weren’t [our] core worries. The Labour coalition wasn’t sustainable.”

Ó Cuív also said that a coalition of the two largest parties in the country is not ideal as it too often disregards the Dáil as he claimed the current Fine Gael-Labour coalition – of the two largest parties in the country- does.

“I’m not convinced that having two parties in coalition together with large majorities is good for the country or for democracy,” he said.

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Read: Sinn Féin thinks a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael coalition is a good idea

More: Support for Fine Gael holding up in latest Red C poll, slight drop for Labour

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Hugh O'Connell

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