Caoimhin O’Muraile ✒ Fine Gael is traditionally one of the largest two parties which comprise Dail Eireann the lower house of the 26 county Irish Parliament.It is the party most associated with the pro-treaty side during the Irish Civil War of 1922-23 – Fianna Fail being the party associated with the anti-treaty forces – and Fine Gael are the inheritors of the pro-treaty party, Cumann na nGaedheal.
The party was formed in 1933 by three component parts, Cumann na nGaedheal, the Army Comrades Association or National Guard generally known as the Blueshirts and the final piece in the Fine Gael jigsaw was the small Nationalist Party. The fascist link comes with the Blue Shirt component part, called such due to their wearing of blue shirts in imitation of Benito Mussolini’s fascist Black Shirts in Italy and Hitler's Nazi Brown Shirts in Nazi Germany. Their leader, a man who admired the fascist leaders of Europe, Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco in Spain after 1939 and the defeat by Franco’s nationalist forces against the elected republican government of Spain, was Eoin O’ Duffy.
It was this early organic link to fascism which plagued Fine Gael for decades, with much justification, and to a certain extent in the minds of many still does. Eoin O’ Duffy himself became a committed fascist after a visit to Italy and his attendance at an international fascist convention in Switzerland, after which the Blueshirts adopted the fascist salute raising the right arm. He even had his own fascist salute followed by a cry of loyalty to the leader, similar to Heil Hitler - Hoch O’ Duffy which somehow does not have the same ring about it.
In August 1933 the Blueshirts under the command of O’ Duffy and supported by Earnest Blythe, an early Protestant member of the first Free State Government and former member of the Orange Order, planned a march in Dublin to commemorate the deaths of Michael Collins [August 22nd 1922] and Arthur Griffith who died in the same year. The new Fianna Fail Government banned the march placing Gardai outside key installations. The march was intended to imitate Mussolini’s march on Rome, 27th October 1922. O’ Duffy raised an Irish Brigade to fight for the fascist General Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39, and also offered Hitler during the Second World War an Irish brigade to fight against the Soviet Union. O’ Duffy also offered Mussolini 1,000 Blueshirts to help him crush the tiny industrially backward country of Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia) which was only just out of the middle-ages. He was one of the people who advised W.T Cosgrave in 1932 to order a military coup rather than hand power over to the newly elected Fianna Fail Government, Cosgrave refused.
Oliver J. Flanagan was a far-right independent TD for Laois/Offaly and became famous for his outlandish anti-Semitic pro-Nazi speech in the Dail. Flanagan on 9th July 1943 urged the government of the day, led by Eamon de Valera, to ‘emulate the German Nazis and rout the Jews out of this country’. He continued, in true Nazi language, ‘where the bees are there is honey, and where the Jews are there is money’ clearly depicting, as did Hitler, that Jewish people were money grabbing thieves and parasites who should be “routed” from Ireland.
Today Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have forgotten their civil war past and, in the case of Fine Gael, their historical links to fascism. They have come together, despite their hidden detestation of each other, to keep Sinn Fein out of government at all costs. These two one-time deadly enemies are now hugging up to each other pretending to be friends to prevent Sinn Fein ever becoming the party of government. What may be interesting in the future is what lengths would these two-faced bastards go to prevent a Sinn Fein administration being formed in the event of that party becoming the largest party via the ballot box? Would we hear echoes of a distant Fine Gael past of Eoin O’ Duffy once suggesting a military coup to stop Fianna Fail forming a government in 1932? Would the two now pretend friends try a similar move to prevent Sinn Fein, even todays diluted version, forming a government? Irish history does have a terrible habit of repeating itself: look at the treaty of December 1921 and the Good Friday Agreement of April 1998. Are we due for another repeat? Time will tell!!