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Any five, four, five euro, Tesco, every little helps. They're Pat Kenny show on news, talk with Marter private network during current restrictions. Don't ignore your health concerns. Our expert team is ready to help. Sean, before they could do it, a bit of Christmas spirit down at Leinster House, there's not much of a going around this week, is there? There's not what is a bit of a pickle business? There are things are open again and there's a bit of lights and everything around.


But once you kind of get inside, the confines of Leinster has more to do once again.


Yeah, I know the Christmas lights being turned on at the Barcalounger entrance just always been one of these things where they parked party politics and it's not happening given the week that they're going through there. We'll talk more about Bryan Stanley and his Twitter account on the Friday forum later.


But you have been looking at FENA fall for us because for the party that is arguably lead government right now, they got more seats of if only a handful and the tea shook is the of our leader.


It ain't comin through in the opinion polls. There are 12 percent in the Red Sea for the business post, 10 points down on the general election result, which was still down and what they were expecting. And they they still remember what happened in 2011 when they melted completely. Sean, how worried are people in Fianna Fáil about those poll numbers and the general public attitude towards the party?


There's a strange kind of apathy that I am picking up at the moment like it isn't panic stations right now.


But there is a very much an anxiousness in the party as they're looking to these polls and kind of thinking, well, gosh, what are we going to do over the next few years to try and make ourselves relevant? And that RedZone poll you mentioned was obviously significant for a number of things. It was the highest ever rating, Sinn Fein to Gaza, 30 percent. And it puts Senegal at thirty three percent, well, clear of a fall down on 12.


And that's across every age group. And we'll talk about it. And some of the guests that I have with talk about how Sinn Fein clearly has a lead in the younger generations of the 18 to 34 is 41 percent of people say they'd vote Sinn Fein, just 10 percent for Fianna Fail. But if you look at the over fifty fives where you would see traditionally been the full force and syndicated as well, outstripping in 47 per cent of those over 65, so they told to Finegan and just 15 percent for Fianna Fáil, which Sinn Fein also getting 50 percent support.


So it's not like it's entirely skewed and demographics, even though that is a big problem for them. And what I'm picking up from people is, look, there's been a series of massive events to Rukavina fall. Obviously, in the last while that was the general election results. There wasn't as good as they thought. The thought of 55 seats. No, they don't. At seven, they have then had to break down that fourth wall and go into a coalition with Syndergaard for the first time, which was hard as an identity thing for the party, then go into government at a time of national crisis, arguably the biggest crisis we faced in the nation's history, if not one of them.


And so in the middle of all that, of course, there is a risk of an identity crisis. And that's exactly what Fianna Fail is going through. They've always had this mass appeal of being able to kind of block votes and a little bit of anyway or be a little bit left when there needs to be a little bit right, when there needs to be going in with the PDS and going in with the Greens. And that has sort of left them in the lurch now as a party without a very defined identity, when Phoenixville obviously clearly has one to the right of them and Sinn Fein has one to the left of them.


So Associate Professor of political science at DCU, O'Malia could have picked up on this point when I talked to him this week. He's also the co-editor of One Party Dominance FENA Fold in Irish Politics, which seems a strange title when you're looking at Fianna Fail now. And he says that their position in Irish politics is much harder to define than it's ever been.


A fundamental problem is that it is stuck in between Sinn Fein and it is struggling to be relevant there. And Martin has a job and he's got two years left to make the whole thing, like the party of government, the competent party of government, which is virtually impossible or very difficult, at least when you're in government with one of your main competitors and they're governing as well.


You sound quite pessimistic about the future of Fianna Fail as any sort of a force following this government, because you've got a big political force with a long history and it should survive. But we can see with parties like the Labour Party, there's nothing to stop the party going to kind of very small levels. And we can see in other countries parties similar to people like passata in Greece, more or less annihilated. And so it's not beyond the realm of possibility that it could be annihilated.


All has other problems in that it's demographics aren't quick over. And so young people are flocking to Sinn Fein and not really support of people, any strong numbers. So in just time isn't going to heal this time. It's only going to make things worse. And so, yeah, probably I'm pessimistic going forward because I'm not quite sure I would consider this position.


But I in the challenge, Sean, I remember speaking to me on Martin in 2011, on that night when they they got wiped out and he was pointing to some younger members of Fáil. I think this is the future. This is the priority that we need to rebuild. And and he made it his goal to rebuild the party.


So in one sense, he became Tesuque and he got his party back into power. But at the same time, the historic problems of not attracting younger people remain. And being in government has not been a good time now to have to try and rebuild for a second time, which is effectively what he has to do.


Yeah, at least that time they were able to go away. It was very clear there was one because after the financial crash of what happened and it was a whipping that people always kind of suspected over time might turn around a little and they were able to bring in new blood, many of whom we're now seeing as TDRS and even ministers, the likes of DA O'Brien, the likes of the Michael McGraths of the world who have come up and kind of started to rebuild the image of the party.


But you're right, rebuilding government is incredibly hard to do. We saw it was going to jail when they tried to kind of change the mantle in the middle of the last government and obviously fell at that hurdle at the election as well, even though they are back in government.


But what I've picked up talking to a few people is that, you know, crisis breeds opportunity in many cases, particularly politically.


You only have to look at Simon Harris only of Iraq or earlier in the year to see that that whipping in the election. They became the darlings of the country for a while through the pandemic and quite often through that business of government also takes precedence and will distract from the party itself. And one of the people I kind of spoke to about this, who has been through this and been through the heyday of 055 as Mandy Johnson, who was a former government press secretary and political adviser during Bertie Ahern time.


And she said that actually the structural problems she sees in the party or maybe much longer to rebuild than just this cycle of government falling is a is a good way to describe it.


A lot of people are talking about Fianna Fail getting squeezed out and that that suggests that there's a determination by the other parties to make them irrelevant when actually a lot of what's happening to Fianna Fail is self-inflicted. It should be an internal crisis situation for them. But I think they have two jobs of work to do, and I think there is always the possibility to come back better. So their job is to tackle government and to use their ministries in government to make themselves relevant, make themselves the people who put forward the solutions and deliver them.


And then the parallel process is about the organisation looking at what went wrong in the general election campaign, looking at how they're being outnumbered and outplayed on the ground by Sinn Fein. And I don't think those processes can. And either of those processes can be ignored because if they are, Fianna Fail are just going to go further and backwards. And instead of being kings in any new government, they may be kingmakers, but they have to be very careful that they don't end up just being pawns.


What then do you make of the challenge facing me, hallmarked from a pure party point of view, whatever? Got a government point of view and like you, obviously is one of these rare politicians that actually does care about the country. And sometimes I put it ahead of party and that that's always been at the core of him as a person. But a lot of the TDs seeking re-election last time that or next time around, that might not necessarily be enough for them.


So do you think he can in the later years of this government if he don't swap over and becomes tarnished and stays that leader, turn this around for Fianna Fail? Or realistically, are we in the space where new blood is going to be needed if the party is going to stay relevant from a party perspective?


He certainly needs to heal the divisions that are there in terms of rebuilding the party from where it's at now, which is basically back in 2011 standing, and which is quite extraordinary in itself, given how far he brought them in a positive way. I think there's a 10 year project for Fianna Fail. It's not about the next two years. It's not about the next five years. I think they need to rebuild their structures, their organisations, their HQ, everything that is around that apparatus and make that fit for purpose.


It's a much longer term strategy than the one Mahle Martin has with 2021 is very, very important for the Taoiseach because 2021, whether he likes it or not, is the last full year that he will be Teisha.


And that's no doubt weighing on his mind realistically. Many in Fennville are behaving like they're in opposition, the leaks coming out of parliamentary party meeting the bitching and sniping from some within his own party, almost designed to undermine the leader at a crucial phase. Michel Martin is his focus now on doing the right thing almost at the expense of his party, which is which is most characteristic of an individual rather than than the leader of the party?


Yeah, I think it is to a big extent. I do think that the whole hallmark gets looked as a party volunteer and actually that's what he intended to do at the start of the government, way back when, if you remember when he didn't give directly to the ministry and made him chief whip, I think that was what it was in his mind. He had kind of used clearly as deputy leader to be his eyes and ears on the ground, if you like.


That didn't work out, obviously, because of the controversies involving Barry and led to Cleary being promoted. And then the controversy around Coles gate led to being sacked, that there's also been other things, like you mentioned, the meeting that's really quite toxic convenor for at the moment. And speaking to some of the members and TDs, they're really very annoyed.


I spoke to one junior minister who said they don't bother bringing anything to the parliamentary party meeting anymore because they know they'll see it on the front page of their local newspaper. And so they don't bother saying it to their colleagues. They'll go to me hallmarked directly. There's others who have spoken to me or Martin about it who feel that there is the ministers and then there's the TDs and they're a separate block and government that don't really talk to each other very much.


And the teacher has told them what he wanted to do was be able to bring a few TDs, a few backbenchers into government buildings every week, have a couple of pizzas and a few beers and be able to keep those relationships going. covid has put an axe on that.


And so we all would never have been shown to be a boy, fruit or muesli.


One of the things that strikes me is he's missing the Rottweiler. He needs the enforcer, because if you look back on the party's system, we're talking about Fianna Fail here.


So whether you like these individuals or not, how he had Bertie, Bertie had Cowan, who does Mehul have? And what's worse is if you put someone into that role, does that necessarily mean that they are the heir apparent who will take over when Mehul eventually does ceased to be leader for whatever reason?


Well, that's exactly what I was going to say. And I think there is a little bit of paranoia there whereby Old didn't appoint a deputy leader for a very long time, didn't have any successor.


And that has been an issue for all for those certainly who would be aspiring to replace him. And you're right, he doesn't have that kind of Rottweiler figure to to whip people into shape, really. And some of his key lieutenants, he's lost on the way, as well as the various controversies. Those like a very talented, reminded need to be in that sort of role and now is no longer on sight. So it's interesting to see that the runners and the riders kind of shaping up for this eventual election campaign.


When you talk to people in the parliamentary party, I think he's got his two years.


And when we get to the end of 2022, it's probably a natural inflection point to change over and under. Some of the people who are in ministries could play themselves into that role as the likes of S.R.O.. Brian or Michael McGrath might have more of a chance that by dint of having a good job, it was something I put to to Malcolm Byrne and Senator Fifield, if there's an instant case study, was tipped to win it all season. Wexford Lansdale's has an old political Afenifere family in the constituency and the Browns.


And I just asked, you know, where do you see it? Where do you see the identity and where Fianna Fail could actually be relevant again? And get young voters back above the middle can do that.


I do, except we have a communications problem. But what I would always say to people is, you know, you cannot beat evidence based policymaking. And I realise we're we're competing with, you know, trendy tweets and hashtags and nice Instagram videos. And felafel is not the best about what funeral is good at, is about solid debate around policy, about developing effective policy and more importantly, about delivery. And our test is about, you know, Afenifere of the party, the build homes of all the party of education, the party that invests in mental health services, in disability.


We're going to be judged on that record. It's going to be difficult, you know, in a digital world when you're competing against a hashtag or a fancy meme, that's always difficult. But in terms of what matters to people at the end of the day, around in education, at home, about money in their pockets, about the safety of our planet, about the community in which we live at, those are the things in which we focus.


And if there's a political party, we continue to focus on those and deliver on those. And of course, we need to communicate, you know, a much, much better than I have no doubt that Fianna Fáil will continue as Ireland's strongest political party and a party the political center.


It's always somebody else's fault not to do with social media. It's the fact that what the party that considers itself the natural party of government in this country doesn't behave like it's in government and it's it's down to messaging, but not that kind of messaging. It doesn't matter whether they've got social media team or not, John.


Yeah, as you as you well know, obviously, you know, and the communications of things, they. Need to figure out what they stand for, who they are actually targeting and how they can pull that away, Sinegal and Sinn Fein. And I put that final question to Mandy Johnson, again, the former government press secretary in the week that a new man starts the job for FENA fallers government press. Second, Paul Clarkson, former editor of The Irish Sun.


Here's the advice that she gave to him as he takes up dismantle.


The really important thing now is to pick two or three issues and they're staring at us in the face. It's covid-19. It's the rollout of the vaccine. It's the Brexit, but not lose sight of the the issues that were important to people before this happened. So this time last year, we were talking about housing.


We were talking about health. The election campaign was dominated by those things. I would go back to those and make sure that as well as covid as well as Brexit, that your drumbeat, your constant communication message has has something that is about the fundamental problems that will still be there when we're finished. And communications has been spoken about a lot in recent weeks. You know, on that, as if communications is some sort of panacea, communications is a bit like the baubles on the Christmas tree and the lights and the tinsel and are only grace if the tree is fundamentally sound so they can do something, but they can't do everything about Christmas trees till about Christmas tree.


Yeah, I'd sum it up slightly quicker than that by just telling Fianna Fail to grow up because that's that's what they need right now. Chanderpaul Magic Johnson finished that report from Chanderpaul there on where Fianna Fail are in the polls and the public consciousness that's to come. Stay with us.


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