OPTIMISTIC Former Fine Gael politician Patrick Durcan.
Fine Gael stalwart confident of a bright future under Kenny
A former Fine Gael Senator, and Trustee of the national party, Patrick Durcan has a long documented association with the now largest political party in Ireland. As Election Agent and Sub-Director of Elections for Michael Ring, the Westport Solicitor and former member of Westport Town Council and Mayo County Council remains prominently at the fore of political life in Mayo.
Needless to say he was feeling ‘spiritually uplifted’ at last Saturday’s count in Castlebar, and gave The Mayo News an insight into an outcome for Fine Gael he felt the party had been building towards, and why Enda Kenny will succeed in his eminent role as Taoiseach of Ireland.
“Historically, I would always regard the west of Ireland as being non-Fianna Fail territory,” he said. “Fianna Fail were lucky in the fifties, sixties and seventies that they had strong men in Connaught – like Ray McSharry in Sligo and Padraig Flynn in Castlebar but Fine Gael didn’t have strong people. However, we have worked at developing strong candidates over the years and part of the strategy was the election of Enda Kenny in 1975 - who was a much stronger person than anybody realised – and the election of Michael Ring in 1994.
“In relation to this election, the strategy was a very clear division of the vote between the four candidates and a very definite party discipline, and discipline was the word and, in fairness, the party adhered to the discipline. Our strategy was risky, it always is when you divide an area but you have to put party before people and candidates, and we divided the county and made every candidate work hard in their own areas to maximise their votes.”
Mr Durcan disagrees that Fine Gael swooped on wounded prey to return an historic four candidates in the Mayo Constituency this time round.
“We have been building on this momentum for some time,” he contended, “and if you go back to the local elections two years ago we returned a majority in the county council and on all three of the town councils in Mayo, and have been since then the dominant political party at a local and county level in Mayo.”
So what then of Enda Kenny as the new leader of the country?
“It is a great day for Ireland, as Ireland is now led by a Taoiseach who is incorruptible, honest and who has a vision for the country,” according to Patrick Durcan. “It is a great day for Ireland also because the Taoiseach-elect is a team player and a team builder, and the building of that team will extend beyond the cabinet and right into the country. He will bring the entire country behind him as a team, it will be Team Ireland, not Team Fine Gael or Fianna Fail. Enda Kenny is a true nationalist who can do that, who can unite the Irish people in the very same way as Daniel O’Connell did in the Repeal Movement of the 1840’s, and in the same way that Parnell did and Sinn Fein did in the early 1900’s.
“There is a big change in the air for the country and you are going to see massive structural change in how we do business, how we run our country, how we deal with our politics, how we deal with our administration, and that is purely because we have a Government led by a man with vision, and because people like Michael Ring are very clear-minded in terms of what they want. There is so much hardship, ruination and desolation being brought on people because the outgoing Government didn’t keep their eye on the ball and you can’t blame the regulator or the bankers, the buck stops with the Government, and their eye wasn’t on the ball. We now have an incoming Government whose eye will be on the ball.”
Enda Kenny has attracted his fair share of critics in recent years but he remains unperturbed and ready to serve according to Patrick Durcan.
“Enda Kenny is not worried about the Dublin media¸ or the other media or what they are saying about him. They’ve got it wrong in many instances and plenty of recent Taoisighi were not Dubliners. Enda Kenny has a focus that extends beyond the west to the entire country, and that’s what’s needed. He is 35 years in the Dail, I don’t think anybody has come to the office of Taoiseach with as much parliamentary experience as that which Enda Kenny is bringing with him. He has immense parliamentary experience and has seen heaves against various leaders and himself, he knows how the system works and he is a committed team builder, which is what Ireland needs.”