Saturday 21 September 2019

Fianna Fail would be mad not to choose Micheal Martin as leader

with Gavin Duffy

HISTORY WILL record Brian Cowen as our worst ever Taoiseach, mishandling our worst ever economic crisis, who resigned in the worst ever manner. Brian Cowen's premiership failed because he failed to communicate with the voters. So Fianna Fail's next leader must be a consummate communicator. If that is the uppermost requirement then Fianna fail would be mad not to select Micheál Martin.

Brian Lenihan, the other main contender, is rightly and frequently praised for his speed learning of the Finance brief and his command of it in media interviews. But his style has been formed in the legal world and is far too formal and lacks humanity and warmth. I have seen him address conferences and he is competent but would never wow a room.

He does not have the necessary charisma quota for leadership which Martin has in abundance. Like Tyrone manager, Mickey Harte, Micheál too has buried a daughter recently. Both could have done the easy thing in their awful, tragic circumstances and understandably remained silent in their grief but both knew the nation was mourning with them faced the media and connected with us and probably even drew strength from it.

Eamon O'Cuiv and Mary Hanafin I won't comment on as I don't consider them real contenders, but to say, O Cuiv would be a throw back and Hanafin is a throw forward, as Mary puts down a marker for the next leadership contest. In five years time Mary would still be only in her mid fifties.

If the soldiers of destiny want a destiny they have to select Martin as the eight leader of Fianna Fail.


Two very different business stories to share with you this week, together they demonstrate all that is good and bad about us Irish.

First the bad. Sadly we are a nation of gossipers and rumour mongers. Nothing travels faster than bad news. And not only is it happening here in our own town but in every town up and down the country. Vicious, malicious and mischievous rumours claiming the imminent collapse of some local business. The horror about these rumours is they can be self fulfilling prophecies. Once the gossips start spreading their vile story, customers may decide to pass the door and suppliers start demanding immediate payment, a sure recipe to drive even a good business to the wall.

Do the gossipers ever stop to think the untold damage they are doing for the momentary delight they get from spreading bad news? Do they ever stop to ask how good or reliable is the information they peddling with gusto and meanness?

I know one business that has suffered from persistent, false rumours, let's called them by their correct name, LIES. Since before Christmas, people who should know better were whispering "the liquidator is at the door". In this case there was absolutely no truth whatsoever in the story but so called intelligent people, who should know better kept spreading the lie.

Please, can I ask you to not participate in these destructive rumours that circulate freely about every other car dealership, hair dressing salon, shoe shop, restaurant, boutique, builders' providers; sadly the list goes on and on, because the rumour mongers spare no one.

If some gossip tells you very dramatically that a certain business is in trouble, please say.., "oh I find that hard to believe, are you just making that up? How would you know? I must give them a bit of support I will make sure to shop there this week." That will shut up the rumour monger.

If we don't pull together and support one another we will never get out of this economic mess we are in. That takes me on to the good that people do.

I was in Wexford last week filming with RTE for Dragons' Den. Series 3 comes on air Sunday nights at 9:30 from February 20th. When the series ends at Easter there is a second series called Dragons' Den on Tour, a sort of, where are they now, follow-up, look back series at some of the inventions, business ideas and start ups that came into the Den over the first two series.

So as part of this I found myself in Enniscorthy catching up with a new company called Wexgen which manufactures a carbon neutral, high-energy, fire-briquette called Green Flame. It is made from a new crop to Ireland, miscanthus. Also called elephant grass, miscanthus is a woody, bamboo-like crop and its only similarity to grass is you set it once and it keeps growing and growing every year. Instead of making hay you cut it to make straw that ends up in a bale that looks more like the reeds used for thatching.

When 35 farmers from the Southeast, all former sugar beat growers, suddenly saw the Irish sugar industry being closed down by the EU, rather than whinge about it, they decided to look for an alternative crop, and better still decided to go into business themselves. The paltry compensation they got from Europe they ploughed into this new venture and raised another half a million euro to set up their manufacturing plant.

It was fantastic last week to see it now in full production. These farmers are a shining example of what can be achieved when we all work together. They have tapped into the great national heritage of Horace Plunkett and the Co-operative movement and the fighting, never say die heritage of Wexford, always evident, from the 1798 pike-men to the All Ireland Hurling champions of 1996.

These 35 farmers who manufacture and distribute nationwide, Green Flame Briquettes, deserve our support. For the remainder of this winter, instead of buying a bag of dirty, imported coal, buy a bale of these, high-energy briquettes and do our country, our environment and some brave, get up and go farmers a good turn. I promise you, giving Green Flame your support will leave you with a nice warm feeling both in your heart and on your hearth.

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