Rossmore’s Fianna Fáil Cumann gathered in Coffey’s Pub, Stouke on Sunday night to honour five of its oldest members. As well as local members, Fianna Fáil representatives attended, including Limerick TD Willie O’Dea and South Tipp County Councillor Sean McCarthy.
Rossmore FF Chairman John O’Dwyer said that the five recipients of the Long Service Award have together contributed 323 years of service to the party. He gave a brief history of the Rossmore Cumann, which was founded in 1930, before Tipperary was split in two, in preparation of the 1932 General Election. The recipients were Martin Coffey, Paddy Heffernan, Michael O’Dwyer, the late Pat Ryan, and Paddy Bourke.
After congratulating the recipients of the Long Service Award, Willie O’Dea discussed the health of the party following the “shattering experience” that was the last general election. “It was worse than a death in the family, because a death in the family has a certain finality to it. We’ve moved away from the shade of the gallows, but we’re still there.” Mr. O’Dea said the there are two actions that must be taken to restore the party; Increasing the local electoral base, and beginning an extensive promotional campaign. “We need to develop believable, responsible election policies. The electorate are more educated now, and we need to hire candidates with qualifications and brainpower.”
Sean McCarthy shared Mr. O’Dea’s sentiments on the state of the party. “Let this be a night of renewal, celebrate the past and prepare for the future. Despite what Vincent Browne and his acolytes would say, we are not dead.”
The Chair of North Tipperary Fianna Fáil Arthur Griffin also defended the party. “We build ourselves from the grassroots up. We’re on the side of the small farmer, the small business owner”.
In relation to last week’s student protests in Dublin he said “Fianna Fáil would have stood on the side of education. Coffey’s bar has hosted many FF functions throughout Martin’s 72 years of membership. Having only finished a stint in hospital the day before, Mr. Coffey’s award was collected by his wife Catherine. After the presentation, Willie O’Dea and Sean McCarthy were taken to Mr. Coffey’s home after the presentation to speak with him there. The late Pat Ryan’s award was received on his behalf by his wife Breda.