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Thread: Fianna Fail Leadership Election 1979: What if Colley Had Won?

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    Default Fianna Fail Leadership Election 1979: What if Colley Had Won?

    Everybody knows the result of the Fianna Fail Leadership Election in 1979 (Haughey won) when he defeated George Colley by a handful of votes. But what if those deputies who changed their minds at the eleventh hour and backed Haughey had supported Colley and he had prevailed, would we have a different Ireland today - different as in better?

    George Colley is now largely forgotten but he was somebody from the old school who saw political office as being public service (real service to the state) and in that regard was the antithesis of Haughey, who as we know to our cost had a different vision. Be aware that Colley died in 1983 but it is likely that even a short leadership would have had profound influence on the party and of course would have - in all liklehood - spelt the end of Haughey ambition to lead Fianna Fail.

    So would Fianna Fail + Ireland have been better with Colley?

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    Politics.ie Member TradCat's Avatar
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    It could hardly have been worse. But in the tough times that were in it I would guess that a pro-Haughey coup would have done for George in the early 80's.

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    I think it would be a better Ireland. Dont know if Haughey would have ousted him if Colley had lost 81 or 82 election. Colley was the decent traditional wing of FF and early on spoke of low standards in high places when it was not fashionable to do so. He must have died of a broken heart so early in life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sheamuseen View Post
    Everybody knows the result of the Fianna Fail Leadership Election in 1979 (Haughey won) when he defeated George Colley by a handful of votes. But what if those deputies who changed their minds at the eleventh hour and backed Haughey had supported Colley and he had prevailed, would we have a different Ireland today - different as in better?

    George Colley is now largely forgotten but he was somebody from the old school who saw political office as being public service (real service to the state) and in that regard was the antithesis of Haughey, who as we know to our cost had a different vision. Be aware that Colley died in 1983 but it is likely that even a short leadership would have had profound influence on the party and of course would have - in all liklehood - spelt the end of Haughey ambition to lead Fianna Fail.

    So would Fianna Fail + Ireland have been better with Colley?
    Well, it could hardly have been worse. The Cabinet had, in the main, supported Colley and the backwoodsmen backed Haughey. As a result, Haughey had to promote some of the worst people ever elected to Dail Eireann but, then again, he dominated them. A fraudulent budget was followed by his 1982 GUBU regime which, at the time, set a new low for political behaviour. Corruption became an instrument of governance and illegal and questionable acts became the norm. A certain B. Ahern was a fresh TD, elected in 1977, at the time and he learnt well at the feet of the master. It inculcated a debasement of politics from which we still suffer very badly. I am not saying that FF would have remained a party that could continue to command a certain respect in the country had Colley won but Haughey's win drove the party into the sewer where, to this day, it is still mired.
    Fianna Fail - The Loss of Sovereignty Party.

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    Interesting question. We would have been spared a lot of the jackass politicians gaining prominence i.e. Burke, Flynn, O'Dea etc. Ahern would still have risen due to his "deviousness". There was I think a certain lineage to what the party stood for in the early days of the Republic in the Colley wing. The clear difference between Haughey and Colley was that the former knew that wealth was what he wanted and that office was a menas to this as well as a means to massaging his ego, Haughey didn't care for party history, Colley did. Haughey should have been lanced after the arms crisis. Lynch was weak thereafter and his ultimate error was the77 election. It was the seed for the property bubble. Haughey was the pirate in the ship of state. If Colley had won he would have had to deal with Haughey and that would have created a schism between the old school and the upstart. At least the old school values would have stood a chance of surviving. Under Haughey they were wiped out. Ultimately Spring was right, Haughey was a cancer in Public life, now it seems the party is too as has been proven in the banking crisis/property bubble.

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    It's not quite that simple though. Haughey wasn't some sole personification of evil, he was in effect just the figurehead for the TACA gang. And TACA had by 1979 deeply infiltrated the senior levels of the civil service as well as FF. Their malign influence on the direction of the State can be seen in legislation going as far back as the early 60s - like the 1963 Planning Act for a prime example - when Haughey was just a pup, albeit a rapidly-rising one.

    Essentially a decision was made back then that high land and property values were the road to prosperity, and almost every economic decision made by most Governments since the 60s has first been filtered through mantra of "High Prices Good".

    So the roots of the malaise go far further and deeper than just Haughey...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pauli View Post
    Well, it could hardly have been worse. The Cabinet had, in the main, supported Colley and the backwoodsmen backed Haughey. As a result, Haughey had to promote some of the worst people ever elected to Dail Eireann but, then again, he dominated them. A fraudulent budget was followed by his 1982 GUBU regime which, at the time, set a new low for political behaviour. Corruption became an instrument of governance and illegal and questionable acts became the norm. A certain B. Ahern was a fresh TD, elected in 1977, at the time and he learnt well at the feet of the master. It inculcated a debasement of politics from which we still suffer very badly. I am not saying that FF would have remained a party that could continue to command a certain respect in the country had Colley won but Haughey's win drove the party into the sewer where, to this day, it is still mired.
    Interesting and needy thread. I've always reckoned that FF due to the uniquely Irish trait if admiring ' the cute whoor ' were corrupt, though it has to be said Haughey brought it to an entirely different level. Like someone said, corruption became the norm in doing things in business and politics from Haughey on.

    I haven't any doubt that " the backwoodsmen backed Haughey. As a result, Haughey had to promote some of the worst people ever elected to Dail Eireann ". As far as I remember some of the worst lackeys and criminals in the country supported him, Doherty, Flynn, McSharry, Lenihan etc and of course Ahern was a junior member of the gang but learning his trade from the head scumbag.

    Pauli or anyone else, do you have any good links or references to the FF leadership election that got Haughey in ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SideysGhost View Post
    It's not quite that simple though. Haughey wasn't some sole personification of evil, he was in effect just the figurehead for the TACA gang. And TACA had by 1979 deeply infiltrated the senior levels of the civil service as well as FF. Their malign influence on the direction of the State can be seen in legislation going as far back as the early 60s - like the 1963 Planning Act for a prime example - when Haughey was just a pup, albeit a rapidly-rising one.

    Essentially a decision was made back then that high land and property values were the road to prosperity, and almost every economic decision made by most Governments since the 60s has first been filtered through mantra of "High Prices Good".

    So the roots of the malaise go far further and deeper than just Haughey...
    The TACA gang, that was a 'fund raising' organization in FF headed by Haughey ?

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    Politics.ie Member Pauli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlabMurphy View Post
    Interesting and needy thread. I've always reckoned that FF due to the uniquely Irish trait if admiring ' the cute whoor ' were corrupt, though it has to be said Haughey brought it to an entirely different level. Like someone said, corruption became the norm in doing things in business and politics from Haughey on.

    I haven't any doubt that " the backwoodsmen backed Haughey. As a result, Haughey had to promote some of the worst people ever elected to Dail Eireann ". As far as I remember some of the worst lackeys and criminals in the country supported him, Doherty, Flynn, McSharry, Lenihan etc and of course Ahern was a junior member of the gang but learning his trade from the head scumbag.

    Pauli or anyone else, do you have any good links or references to the FF leadership election that got Haughey in ?
    I have never come across a definitive account of the unseating of Lynch and the subsequent election of Haughey in December 1979. However, if you want the definitive account of the dire GUBU regime Haughey headed up in 1982, "The Boss" by Joe Joyce and Peter Murtagh is unsurpassable. The story of "the trees" in the Dublin West bye-election is priceless.
    Fianna Fail - The Loss of Sovereignty Party.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlabMurphy View Post
    Interesting and needy thread. I've always reckoned that FF due to the uniquely Irish trait if admiring ' the cute whoor ' were corrupt, though it has to be said Haughey brought it to an entirely different level. Like someone said, corruption became the norm in doing things in business and politics from Haughey on.

    I haven't any doubt that " the backwoodsmen backed Haughey. As a result, Haughey had to promote some of the worst people ever elected to Dail Eireann ". As far as I remember some of the worst lackeys and criminals in the country supported him, Doherty, Flynn, McSharry, Lenihan etc and of course Ahern was a junior member of the gang but learning his trade from the head scumbag.

    Pauli or anyone else, do you have any good links or references to the FF leadership election that got Haughey in ?

    I dont think Lenihan backed Haughey, only one on front bench that did so was O Kennedy wsho turned at last moment. It was the likes of McSharry, Doherty, Flynn, McEllistrim, Killalea, Bertie and their ilk that stormed the palace. People forget that there was only 6 votes in it, so if 3 had changed ? Calls were made in the middle of night threatening people to vote CJH, and his camp got people with money and influence to pressurise their llocal TD to do the right thing.

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