10 things Fianna Fail should do to recover.

1. Admit that the party has an ethics perception problem, and outsource ethics investigations and decisions to an impeccable source, like a former FG judge. Overnight, FF becomes the party with the highest ethical standards.

2. Appoint some non-parliamentary spokespeople. SF proved with Mary Lou, Sean Crowe and others that this works. The old FF rule that it is so-and-so’s turn is a recipe for stagnation.

3. Be weary of the rural obsessions of the parliamentary party. FF has an important rural base, but most Irish voters live in urban areas now.

4. Consider online primaries to select candidates, open to the public for a modest fee (which will deter anti-FF time wasters). Party members will sign up anyway, but it will allow recognition of the modern reality of party support, that there are people who wish to support a party but not go to cumann meetings. Also, it will act as a means of raising funds and building a database of party voters in a constituency.

5. Martin has to do something about O’Cuiv’s semi-detached attitude to party policies. Like firing him if he doesn’t advocate a clear Yes in the EU treaty referendum. (written before O’Cuiv decided to finally resign from an office on a point of principle. Of course, it’s pure coincidence that it’s an unpaid position)

6. The party should adopt a rule where the parliamentary party can designate issues as issues of conscience, and allow free votes on issues like abortion and marriage equality. That way it allows conservatives their fair say whilst giving liberals a home in the party.

7. The party must start giving alternatives to cutbacks, not just opposing them. The standard opposition only confirms the two-faced image FF has in the eyes of many voters. After all, FF was cutting this stuff a year ago.

8. Keep apologising for the past. Demeaning I know, but it hasn’t done the Germans any harm.

9. Create an at-arm’s-length policy institute, the Lemass-Fitzgerald Institute, to draft policy options focussed on modern repulicanism. Make sure that 51% of the board ARE NOT party members, and that it has a right to criticise the party. The name is important, recognising that modern Fianna Fail offers a home to all progressive republicans and patriots (as Garrett was)  regardless of civil war past.

10. Get radical on political reform at the Constitutional Convention, and dare to think outside the box, including elected mayors, local referendums, a new voting system, and maybe even a directly elected Taoiseach. 

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