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Micheál Martin quietly shows the way to nine political lives

World of Politics with Harry McGee

The inter-county goalkeeper who is most reminiscent of Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin might not actually be his son, Micheál Aodh Martin, who stands between the posts for Cork.

It could very well be Stephen Cluxton – in this sense; just when you think he is gone for good, he defies expectations, and, ultimately, pushes the question of his retirement back for yet another year.

Michéal Martin has been doing that since the moment he became leader of Fianna Fáil in late 2010.

At the time the party was facing its most serious existential crisis in its 84-year history. The Titanic of Irish politics had met its iceberg. There were questions surrounding the party’s long-term survival.

For a long time into the next Dáil session, Martin was portrayed as the first Fianna Fáil leader who would never become Taoiseach. With a bedraggled crew of only 20 TDs, all of them male, some of them stale, the omens were not good.

Twelve years later, the very same questions crop up about the future of the party, about the quality of its front-line public representatives, and about its uncertain future.

And what of Micheál Martin? When you speak to Fianna Fáil TDs and Senators about him the first topic of conversation is speculating when the moment of his departure will be.

The irony is that colleagues and commentators have been asking the longevity question for twelve years and 140 days at this stage: Martin became party leader on January 20 2011.

He is now the third longest-serving Fianna Fáil leader in its almost century-long history. If this Government lasts its full term, or close to it, he will overtake Bertie Ahern and go into second place after party founder Eamon de Valera.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin…no sign of his demise just yet

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