When Eamon de Valera was in Lincoln Prison during the War of Independence, his election team came up with a fantastic slogan for the parliamentary elections. It ran: “Put Dev in to get him out”.
And you don’t need me to tell you that popular sentiment at the time was overwhelmingly behind de Valera and his colleagues.
Following his recent arrest, you wonder how well such an electoral strategy would work for Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein. For sure, in the strongholds of the North and the border and among working class areas it will do nothing but bolster the party’s support.
But the reaction elsewhere will be telling. If it boosts Sinn Féin’s support, or does not affect it one way or the other, it means that the party has crossed an important acceptability threshold… that people know all about its terrible past but don’t really care enough, or no longer see it as a factor.
The killing of Jean McConville was heinous. But the attitude may be that that was then (a long time ago) and this is now and Sinn Féin is now as shiny and bright as Gerry’s famous choppers.
It’s too early to gauge how it’s all going to play with the electorate. And besides, opinion polls (and we all use them as if they are political oxygen) are much more inaccurate when it comes to polling individual constituencies (as opposed to the entire country).
That’s because they use much smaller samples (500 people as opposed to 1,000) and that makes the margin of error larger.
And it explains, to some degree, the huge inconsistencies between the Millward Brown poll for the Independent and the Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post a week later.
One had Fianna Fáil’s Thomas Byrne at 16 per cent in Midlands North West and the other had him at seven or eight per cent.
Similarly Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan in Dublin was 20 per cent in the Millward Brown poll but only 14 per cent in the Red C one. Nessa Childers support in Dublin halved from 20 per cent to ten per cent in the space of a week.
There’s still a lot of jostling going on. European elections are second-tier elections and are considered by the electorate as mid-term, or not vital.
Thus voting and candidate choice can be impetuous – they can be reduced to beauty contests with big swings and fluctuations of support. As the actual results show in each election, some parties (Greens, Labour and Sinn Féin) have tended to have their support overstated in the election and some (Fianna Fáil last time) are understated. Labour is certainly not being overstated in the polls right now.
So if we were to rework that Dev slogan, it might read something unwieldy like this for Sinn Féin: Put him in to not them in.
And the ‘them’ in this case are Sinn Féin candidates.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day
Inside Track with John McIntyre
BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.
Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.
With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.
Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Greens see red on gold rush
Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.
Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.
They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.
The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.
And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.
However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure
The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.
The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.
Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.
The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.
Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.
When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.
Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.
It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.
For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.
Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.
He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.
He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.
With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.
He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.
The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.