Belfast Telegraph

Parties urged to form coalition

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have been urged by a former government minister to resolve their historical differences and go before future elections as one coalition.

Mary O'Rourke, a senior figure for decades within Fianna Fail, said it was time for the parties to bridge the political divide and give serious thought to coming together.

"We, as a people, have long forgotten that the bone of contention between us as parties since the Civil War is the treaty signed in London in those far off days," she said.

A prominent member of a long-standing Fianna Fail dynasty, Mrs O'Rourke added: "Is it not time now in this year of 2013 to note the similarities and to forgo the differences? Is it not time now for us to think the unthinkable - to allow our minds to range over the possibilities which could emerge from the voices of the electorate in two-to-three years' time."

Speaking at the William Carleton summer school in Clogher, Co Tyrone, the former Fianna Fail deputy leader referred to a speech three years ago by her late nephew and ex-Finance Minister Brian Lenihan at the annual commemoration of Michael Collins in west Cork.

It was the first time a Fianna Fail minister delivered the address at the traditionally Fine Gael event at Beal na mBlath.

During the speech, Mr Lenihan said the differences between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael were no longer defined by the Civil War and referred to the event as a further public act of historical reconciliation.

Ms O'Rourke said she was also inspired by the coming together of warring factions in the Peace Process and dismissed any suggestion her plea was fanciful or "summer school speak".

"I put the thought out there conscious that I can do so coming, as I am, from a lifetime of observing the tribal political theatre that is Dail Eireann - coming, as I am, from someone who has reflected in historical terms long and hard on the thoughts I am putting forward today and coming as I am from a mixed political pedigree," she said.

Ms O'Rourke was a Fianna Fail TD for Longford/Westmeath and a Senator for many years. She also served in several key Cabinet positions, including as education minister, health minister and public enterprise minister.

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