Michael O’Regan, Parliamentary Reporter
The family of the late Neil Blaney is strongly opposing the amalgamation with Fianna Fáil of the independent organisation he founded in Donegal North East.
Neil Blaney’s son, Eamonn, a first cousin of the sitting TD Niall Blaney, told The Irish Times yesterday: “Our entire family – my mother, four brothers and two sisters – are strongly opposed to Niall joining Fianna Fáil. It is a political and not a family issue. We will respect his decision, but the political reality is that we will not be giving him any support.”
He added that while Niall would “always be family”, he would not rule out canvassing against him in a general election if he was running as a Fianna Fáil candidate. Nor has he ruled out standing for election in Dublin in the future as an Independent candidate.
A statement, signed by Neil Blaney’s widow Eva and their seven children, said: “Our view is that we neither seek, nor would accept, any apology from Fianna Fáil for what happened to our father as a minister and, subsequently, as an Independent deputy at the hands of the Fianna Fáil party.
“It would be meaningless to us. Fianna Fáil should apologise to the Irish people generally, and especially those in the North whom they abandoned in such dire need and then, subsequently, colluded in their oppression.
“We have no desire to either join or support the Fianna Fáil party and can see no circumstances in the future where this position would change. We consider Fianna Fáil to be a party characterised by arrogance, hypocrisy and incompetence. We see it as unfit to govern and led by a man unworthy of the high office he holds.”
The statement added that “successive Fianna Fáil administrations have increased the inequalities within our society and have ignored the plight of the most vulnerable”.
Neil Blaney was elected to the Dáil in a byelection in 1948 caused by the death of his father, Neal Blaney, who had fought in the War of Independence and the Civil War. He was a minister, and a powerful figure within Fianna Fáil, from 1957 until his dismissal from the cabinet during the 1970 arms crisis.
Charges against him of conspiring to import arms and ammunition into the State were dismissed by Dublin District Court in July 1970.
Following his expulsion from the party in 1971, he set up his Independent Fianna Fáil organisation in Donegal North East.
When he died in 1995 he was succeeded in the Dáil by his brother, Harry, father of Niall Blaney, who was elected in the last general election.
Eamonn Blaney, named after Fianna Fáil’s founding father, Eamon de Valera, grew up in a strong Fianna Fáil tradition, and remembers family visits to Áras an Uachtaráin when de Valera was president. Another brother, Seán T, was named after another Fianna Fáil president, Seán T O’Kelly.
Eamonn Blaney said his father would be appalled by the modern Fianna Fáil if he were still alive. “Now, it is a case of power for the sake of power. As for Bertie Ahern, I would concur, in that one instance, with the late Charlie Haughey that he is indeed the most cunning and devious of the lot. “
Meanwhile, talks are continuing between Fianna Fáil headquarters and the Blaney organisation in Donegal North East. The Fianna Fáil organisation in Letterkenny is insisting that a party candidate from the town be included on the general election ticket if Niall Blaney joins the party.
© The Irish Times