You are probably a very senior citizen if you can remember the gibe that Fianna Fail, no longer capable of attracting the young sought to frighten old ladies.

It was made when Fianna Fail was led by a man who had won six All-Ireland Winners in a row (five in Hurling and one  in Football, wearing his County’s jersey.

The man who made the gibe was a hero of mine at the time, but became one of history’s most disgraceful turncoats. He claimed that Fianna Fail had 

degenerated after forty years, as had Redmond’s after a similar period, and that the 1970s would be Socialist. The Sick Transit of  Conor Cruise .O’Brien to the approval of young Michael Gove is a sad, sad story.

Micheal Martin thinks he can frighten old ladies into believing they would be bullied at Sinn Fein meetings is pathetic. I’ve attended a few of them in London.once in Hornsey Town Hall where Gerry Adams was the main speaker. And it was conducted in a rational courteous manner that would have pleased the author of “The Meaning of a University” though Newman would not have experienced the delight of the introduction by the (female) Chair in fluent Belfast Irish. This was at a time when the “shadowy” Gerry Adams could not have his voice heard on TV or Radio in either Britain or Ireland. I have been at meetings and gatherings hosted by Sinn Fein in the House of Commons, and most recently, a few weeks ago in the ancient Westminster Hall, where people were free to ask questions and give opinions without interruption or fear. There was never an atmosphere of hero-worship or deference to any Sinn Fein speaker I ever heard, nor any attempt to speak down by them to any in their audience.

Though never a member of the British Labour Party I was at the final Rally , a family event in Islington in 1987. An all-singing all-dancing extravaganza with warm-up comedians such as Ben Elton and show-bizz  luvvies keeping families entertained before the arrival of Neil and Glenys Kinnock. The campaign had been launched marketing Kinnock and Spouse as a glamorous product with scant content and the arrival might have been choreographed by Leni Riefenstahl. I’ll admit the couple were photogenic and Glenys quite fanciable. 

The phoneyness of the “family event” was disgusting. Families had gathered with their friends and very happy until the photographers arrived. They proceded to grab children, a black one here, a white one there, a mixed race here, one of oriental parentage there, to create a rainbow picture.

The poor children were frightened out of their wits and were crying. Their humanity, individuality and dignity counted for nothing in the cynical calculations of the spin-doctors.

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