BRIAN Cowen was an outstanding public representative who will be judged kindly by history, according to his successor in Fianna Fail.
Deputy Michael Martin made the comments in Portlaoise last week before meeting with Laois councillors and party members as part of his ‘chicken and chips’ tour to revitalise the party.
“The outgoing Taoiseach was extremely popular in this part of the country and was an outstanding public representative for this constituency and for the country. History will be far kinder and more insightful than current commentary,” said the Cork TD.
Deputy Martin said Mr Cowen had led the country during one of the worst economic recessions since 1929. He said the economic problems had led to seismic political impact here and around the world.
Mr Martin said FF in Laois Offaly had delivered “an outstanding performance” by delivering two TDs but he said his party needs to change.
“Our urban support is far lower than it should be. Fundamentally we need to strengthen our position in the urban centres and it will be a core part of the renewal of our party.
“The next local elections are going to be key in terms of new candidates and having a vigorous party platform that is based on sustainable communities and is linked to reforming local Government,” he said.
He believed that FF wants young people and women but he accepted that FF had to rebuild trust.
“Over time we will regain the trust of people and we will put forward policies that are relevant to the needs of modern society. We were straight up before the election. We told people the realities of what was before us we didn’t make any false promises that couldn’t be realised,” he said referring to the small hospital crisis.
The TD accepted that his party has lost the public sector support because of the pay levy.
“I think we can win back the support of the public service by affirming its role. There has been a lot of negativity about the concept and role of the public service we have never been part of that. We do believe in reform and the Croke Park agreement. There had to be savings made. The levy was never about banks it was about bridging the gap between spending and what the country is taking in,” he said.
Deputy Martin said private sector jobs were more at risk that state jobs.
“The economic crisis has created additional anxiety in everybody’s life. On balance the public sector is in a safer position than the private sector in terms of security of employment and medium to long term security,” he said.
Ultimately he said, “The unemployed have to the priority”.