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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -1°C
PA Martin leaving the Dublin Convention Centre after being elected taoiseach yesterday.
party politics

Micheál Martin plans on hanging Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins portraits side-by-side in his office

Martin said it will act as a symbol of historic government coalition that was formed this week.

NEW TAOISEACH MICHEÁL Martin has vowed to place pictures of Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera side by side in his office in Dublin to signal a new era in Irish politics.

Speaking upon his arrival at his family home in Ballinlough, Co Cork where he received a socially distanced guard of honour from neighbours and friends Martin admitted he was conscious of the symbolism of such a gesture.

“Leo Varadkar said to me during the week ‘you know I have taken the portrait of Michael Collins down.’ I am going to put it back up. I am going to put De Valera next to him in the Taoiseach’s office. Just to symbolise what has happened in terms of the formation of this Government.

“I have a wonderful portrait of De Valera in my own opposition office. I am going to bring it over. Lemass is there already. We will also find a place for a bust of (late Taoiseach) Jack Lynch too.

“It will be interesting in terms of the Civil War (commemorations). It will have to be sensitive and honest but it will have to be done with a maturity that will, I suppose, educate and provide insight to the younger generations in terms of the formation and evolution of the State.

“History to me is about revelation. It is about insights. We can’t look back judgmentally. We can’t import the values of today back a hundred years ago. We have to learn from it and understand it. It (history) belongs to no party.”

The new Taoiseach was greeted by supporters who sang a verse of “The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee.” His children Micheal Aodh, Aoibhe and Cillian lined the kerb outside his home alongside his wife Mary.

He and his wife Mary became emotional as they recalled their own parents and the contributions they made to their lives.

The new Taoiseach’s father Paddy passed away in 2012 at the age of 89. A bus driver and inspector he was a celebrated boxer known as “the champ.”

Paddy Martin was a champion boxer with the Glen Boxing club on the northside of Cork city and apparently never went down without a fight.

Micheál said his thoughts were with his late parents Paddy and Eileen at this special time.

He recalled watching former Taoiseach and fellow Corkman Jack Lynch’s speeches on television on the orders of his father Paddy.

“Our initial introduction in to politics was that we were all marched in to the sitting room in Turners Cross to watch Jack Lynch give his Ard Fheis speeches. I think at that time it was an hour long. We were made sit down for the hour and the father would be extolling the virtues of Jack Lynch. I probably got subconsciously interested in Jack Lynch.

“He (Paddy Martin) played football with Jack Lynch. He lost four county finals with Jack. He was able to tell me great stories. Of course the glory days of Lynch and Christy Ring.“

Mary Martin said that they were thinking fondly of both their parents at the homecoming and others special people who worked night and day for Micheál over the last 30 years.

“[We are thinking] of both of our parents and we see friends here that their loved ones canvassed when Micheál started.

“Yesterday, for a lot of them they told us that they watched it on tv and they cried from beginning to end because they were thinking of their parents.

“On a human level, one side of me was glad that I was able to do it in the privacy of my own home because I was emotional. We are thrilled. We will do what we can to help.”

The Taoiseach said his father would have been “quietly proud” but they were brought up to never use that word as his mother Eileen didn’t like it.

“He would be a happy man. He was a proud Irish man. Right through my career he was always there. There was a resilience in his family that went back a long way. He had a tough upbringing. His parents died very young in life. They came through tough times.

“They (Micheál’s parents) wanted to raise us and give us an education like many of that generation of sixties. That resilience is there. And also to be glass half full in life. We have got one life we have to live it to the fullest we can. That is the philosophy he imparted to me.”

Mary met Micheal in UCC Cumann. She was asked what attracted her to him and she clarified that he was the one who pursued her.

She said they celebrated their 30th anniversary last week. They were like any couple several decades together when Mary jokingly stopped Micheál in his tracks when he suggested telling the media and supporters of how they met.

Mary said their children were the ‘treasures’ of their lives. “We are happy in our skins ourselves.”

Asked if he would like to see his children follow in his footsteps Micheál Martin said it was a challenging life but that their choices were their own once they were happy.

Martin thanked his neighbours of thirty years saying they had lovely friendships in the park.

“It was 1989 with Mary’s late mother and we were touring around for a place to live. I spotted this place and I rang the auctioneer and I said ‘this is the middle of the constituency. This is exactly where I should live.’

“We have the best of neighbours on either side of us. We had great craic in the early years. We have all matured and evolved. It has been a great oasis for me.”

Olivia Kelleher
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