Updated: 08/10/16 : 06:59:53
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O'Rourke memory is flawed on MacSharry

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

IN HER new book Mary O'Rourke tells a story about Raymond MacSharry.

In fact she tells several stories about him, in all of them he is a White Knight who saved her.

Saved from the snarls of her boss, Cee Jay Haughey and saved from furious backbenchers in her days in the 1987 Cabinet.

But unless Raymond MacSharry had the gift of Boyle Roche's famed bird  -- and could be in two places at one time -- one of the stories is not possible.

Her book relates how Haughey canvassed his ministers and went around the Cabinet table one by one to hear their views on calling an election in 1989.

O'Rourke tells it she and 'Mac The Knife' cautioned at that meeting in May 1989 against a cut-and-run to the country.

She is 100% wrong in her recall. MacSharry had left Fianna Fáil, the Dail, the Cabinet and headed for Europe as Ireland's Commissioner on January 5th 1989.

Odds On

One of the (hidden) precipitates for the 1989 general election was the growing realisation at the top in Fianna Fáil that Fine Gael would win the Sligo bye election.

In fact Fine Gael has NEVER lost a bye election in the Sligo, Leitrim area.

Their impressive record was established in 1925, 1929 and 1961.

Gerry Reynolds was odds-on to win the 1989 bye-election...and give Fine Gael an extra seat against the minority Fianna Fáil government.

Never Held

That 1989 bye election was never held, although all the main parties had picked their runners.

The vacancy caused by Raymond MacSharry going to Europe was never filled in a bye election -- a good quiz question at any time.

Haughey went with his own whim -- after a trip to Japan -- and instead called the 1989 general election which led to Fianna Fáil having to enter coalition for the first time ever.

Army Wives

Fianna Fáil lost a handful of seats, not helped by well run campaigns by Army wives on pay issues and fishing rod licences proposed by FF.

Meanwhile, Bertie Ahern and the late Albert Reynolds were under the (mistaken) impression they had been mandated by the party to negotiate with the Progressive Democrats.

Instead, the PD leader Desmond O'Malley and Haughey concurred a concord which became the basis for a Cabinet.

In both the 1987 and 1989 general elections I was on the full time HQ staff of Albert Reynolds campaign.

It is fair to say that that there was little love lost at election time EVER between those two big FF names, Reynolds and O'Rourke.

As a follow-up book I would love to read O'Rourke's (imaginary) letter to Reynolds re the Battle(s) for Tang Village! Could well be a best seller.