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Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Political Parties - Ireland - Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party (Irish: Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), more commonly known as Fianna Fáil (Irish pronunciation: [ˌfʲiənə ˈfɔːlʲ]) is a political party in the Republic of Ireland. It is the largest party in both houses of the Oireachtas, Ireland's bicameral parliament, and the leading party in a coalition government with the Green Party, which also has the support of five Independent TDs.

Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál ("Fál" being a legendary name for Ireland).
Historically Fianna Fáil has been seen as to the left of Fine Gael and to the right of Labour. However Fianna Fáil has never been categorized as being left wing or right wing and has led governments including parties of the left, Labour Party (Ireland) and Green Party and parties of the right Progressive Democrats. Fianna Fáil is typically seen as a Big tent Party with support spread evenly across all social classes and has been in power for 53 years of its 84 year history, having ruled almost continuously since 1987 with the exception of an 18 month period between 1994-1997, It is the second most successful political party in the democratic world after the Swedish Social Democratic Party with all it's leaders having served as Prime Minister a feat not matched by any other Party. It currently boasts a membership of some 75,000 members, the largest membership of an Irish political party by far.

Fianna Fáil joined the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party on 16 April 2009, and has sat in its associated Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group in the European Parliament since the 2009 European elections

Although the posts of leader and party president of Fianna Fáil are separate, with the former elected by the Parliamentary Party and the latter elected by the Ardfheis (thus allowing for the posts to be held by different people, in theory), in practice they have always been held by the one person. However, as the Ardfheis may have already been held in any given year by the time a new leader is elected, the selection of the new party president might not take place until the next year.
The following are the terms of office for the leader:
  • Éamon de Valera (1926–1959)
  • Seán Lemass (1959–1966)
  • Jack Lynch (1966–1979)
  • Charles Haughey (1979–1992)
  • Albert Reynolds (1992–1994)
  • Bertie Ahern (1994–2008)
  • Brian Cowen (2008–present)
Party Aims and Objectives

1. To secure in peace and agreement the unity of Ireland and its people.
2. To develop a distinctive national life in accordance with the diverse traditions and ideals of the Irish people as part of a broader European culture, and to restore and promote the Irish language as a living language of the people.
3. To guarantee religious and civil liberty, and equal rights, equal treatment and equal opportunities for all the people of Ireland.
4. To develop the resources and wealth of Ireland to their full potential, while making them subservient to the needs and welfare of all the people of Ireland, so as to provide the maximum sustainable employment, based on fostering a spirit of enterprise and self-reliance and on social partnership.
5. To protect the natural environment and heritage of Ireland and to ensure a balance between town and country and between the regions, and to maintain as many families as practicable on the land.
6. To promote the family, and a wider sense of social responsibility, and to uphold the rule of law in the interest of the welfare and safety of the public.
7. To maintain the status of Ireland as a sovereign State, as a full member of the European Union and the United Nations, contributing to peace, disarmament and development on the basis of Ireland's independent foreign policy tradition.
8. To reform the laws and institutions of State, to make them efficient, humane, caring and responsive to the needs of the citizen.

On 17 September 2007 Fianna Fáil announced that the party would, for the first time, organise in Northern Ireland.

Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, is to chair a committee on the matter: "In the period ahead Dermot Ahern will lead efforts to develop that strategy for carrying through this policy, examining timescales and structures. We will act gradually and strategically. We are under no illusions. It will not be easy. It will challenge us all. But I am confident we will succeed,"The party embarked on its first ever recruitment drive north of the border on the 25th and 26th of September in northern universities, and established two 'Political Societies', the William Drennan Cumann in Queens University, Belfast, and the Watty Graham Cumann in UU Magee, Derry.

Bertie Ahern announced on 7 December 2007 that Fianna Fáil had been registered in Northern Ireland by the UK Electoral Commission. There has been speculation about an eventual merger with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), formerly the main Irish nationalist party in the Northern ireland, but now smaller than Sinn Féin. This has been met with a mixed reaction with former Deputy Leader of the SDLP, Seamus Mallon, stating he would be opposed to any such merger. On 23 February 2008, it was announced that a former UUP councillor, Colonel Harvey Bicker, had joined FF.

The 2009 Ardfheis announced the establishment of Fianna Fáil Fora across Northern Ireland, initially on a County-by-County basis. The first formally established Forum is the Armagh Forum, subsequently fora have been established in Counties Down and Fermanagh, further organisation continues. This Ardfheis also elected Mark Hughes, a member from Armagh, to the Party's Ard Chomhairle (National Executive).

In November 2009, at the National Youth Conference in Bundoran, Ógra Fianna Fáil decided to add the position of Northern Representative to the committee to reflect the organisations 32 county status.

On the 22nd July 2010 Taoiseach Brian Cowen opened the first Fianna Fail office in the town of Crossmaglen. The event was visited by several high profile TD's.

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