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Bill O'Herlihy speaking to the crowds at the Michael Collins commemoration ceremony Photo by: RTE

Michael Collins commemoration hears call for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to unite

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Bill O'Herlihy speaking to the crowds at the Michael Collins commemoration ceremony Photo by: RTE

One of Ireland’s leading broadcasters has called on Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to form a new coalition – at a remembrance service for Michael Collins.

Sports broadcaster and PR guru Bill O’Herlihy made the controversial comments at the annual Beal na Blath commemoration in Cork.

Speaking at the service in honor of Collins, the Irish Times reports that O’Herlihy called on the age old adversaries to come together and form the next government.

He said: “The coming together of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in some form would be the kind of dramatic clean sweep idea that inspired Michael Collins and his generation of politicians.

“The divisions of the Civil War have become a damaging anachronism and there is a disturbing and retrograde scenario that might arise if a Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin coalition were to become a possibility.

“In that sense, I make the argument of the need for a sea-change but one that would have much to offer.”

The report says that O’Herlihy, a lifelong Fine Gael supporter and advisor to the party, asserted that in contradistinction to Sinn Féin, only Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil had the ‘proven trust of the people of this Republic over the past eighty years’.

He also claimed that the differences between the two right wing parties are ‘negligible’.

O’Herlihy continued: “Does it make any sense to have the major political parties tussling for power where, for so long, the width of a sheet of tissue paper scarcely separated their policies?

“How much more progress, how much more reform would be possible if senseless old historical divisions were eliminated from our politics?”

An audience of 500, including relatives of Mr Collins and Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, also heard O’Herlihy refer Collin’s early involvement with the GAA in London.

He said: “Collins was an effective midfielder and I suspect his temper would have seen him capture a few red cards if they had been invented at the time.

“However events from 1916 to the civil war were the preoccupations of yesteryear.

“There can only be so many rematches, there comes a time when old fights can no longer teach us any more lessons.

“In Ireland there is the paradox of having the two best-supported political parties at loggerheads for generations over passions played out eighty years ago.

“The vast majority of the people of Ireland have lost any real contact with that quarrel.”

O’Herlihy added that Collins had a vision of an Ireland where with growing prosperity, each received what each contributed.

He said: “Even in the best economic times, Ireland has never come close to achieving that.”

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