On the day Irish newspapers led with a historic first placing for Labour, James Lawless blogged a not-bad analysis of Fianna Fáil’s current woes from the perspective of an ordinary cumann member.

James believes his party is no longer corrupt, but distinguishes corruption from graft. He criticises ‘Carpetbaggers’ loading up on expenses, or jostling for state appointments. Rightly or wrongly, the perception of corruption persists, probably not helped by the bailout to banks (and developers), the second problem James identifies.

The perception of corruption is now so firmly entrenched in the public mind, it may take years to fix. Even then, it will probably take a spell in opposition. Put bluntly, opposition parties don’t have the opportunity to practice patronage.

Meanwhile, problems with internal democracy and external communications are not specific to Fianna Fáil. The same could be said of Fine Gael, as anyone watching Enda Kenny failing to inspire can confirm.

That leaves us with Northern Ireland. I’m not sure I’d agree that’s a way forward. For the most part, politics in the south has been free of the sectarian screeds that dominate every issue in Northern Ireland. Fianna Fáil might be wise not to wade into that argument.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.