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Independents will fly – but not as high as they’d hoped

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Michael Fitzmaurice...one anticipated independent success.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Trying to analyse politics is trying to shoot a moving target, with a blindfold on, while standing on one leg….and possibly being in a different country to the target.

I sometimes trawl through political analysis pieces I wrote 20 years ago and say – by the hokey, you were a bright young fellow then. But far more often I end up saying stuff like – how wrong you were when you said Brian Cowen had the making of a fine Taoiseach, or that Fine Gael would put it up to Fianna Fáil in the 2002 election.

Politicians and those who commentate on the action for a living tend to make one grievous error: they take the facts of the moment as permanent when, of course, they are not.

Take for example when Fine Gael was on its uppers in 2002 and it was widely predicted the party was a goner. Ditto Fianna Fáil in 2011. Although like the advertisement for the homeware store, it was slightly different for the Progressive Democrats – when they are gone they are gone.

But now you kind of think…are they? There have been a few big trends in politics over the past year or so. We have seen the evidence in opinion polls. And we have also seen some turns-up for the book in second tier elections such as local elections, European elections and bye-elections.

These trends are inchoate. In other words don’t take them for Gospel even though many people do. It is true that Sinn Féin is on the rise and will do better in 2016 than it did in 2011 and in previous elections. Significantly better I have no doubt.

But I can sense a bit of hubris creeping into the party – the kind of talk that says…Adams for Taoiseach. For Sinn Féin in 2015 think Labour in 2009, when the party was riding high in the polls and we began to see the Gilmore for Taoiseach posters.

I think that Sinn Féin’s support has peaked and it will find it difficult to garner the same kind of support in next year’s election that it was getting in opinion polls all last year. Look, there’s no doubt the party will make substantial gains.

But it won’t put them anywhere near where they clearly want to be – and that’s the dominant party in a Syriza or Podeomos (of Spain) type anti-austerity government.

What I’m saying is that it’s not static, that things will change in the next year.

And of course, brand independent is also very strong at the moment. But again I would argue that the picture there is not as clear-cut or as permanent as it seems.

I was chatting with a Fine Gael Minister not too long ago who said that that kind of volatility was the new normal. I believe that he is half right.

If you look at the support levels for the two main parties, they have fallen precipitously in the past 40 years to such an extent that neither can hope to be as dominant as once was the case.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Prodigal son Bertie could be set for return to the fold

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Bertie Ahern speaking at the announcement of the Good Friday Agreement.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

I’d actually forgotten that Bertie Ahern wasn’t a member of Fianna Fáil until the issue was brought up at the parliamentary party meeting of TDs and senators last week.

He was in Coventry or Purdah – or wherever politicians with a whiff of scandal around them are put – for a number of years but he’s been back at the centre of the political and public stage for so long now, you begin to forget that he was ever away.

And so last week, Donegal senator Niall Blaney stood up and addressed his colleagues right at the end of the meeting. He said 2023 would mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The party needed to put its best foot forward to commemorate it.

Out of the blue, he then said that should include welcoming Bertie Ahern back into the party fold. He called on the party to act in “a spirit of inclusivity”.

It was one of those moments that Conamara people have a great expression for. ‘Tháinig sé Aniar Aduaidh orainn’ (it surprised us from the North West).

It had not been on the meeting agenda but now it was very much on the party’s agenda. Others piped up. Offaly TD Barry Cowen said that the time had come to readmit Ahern to Fianna Fáil. Over the next 24 hours colleagues joined in, saying a lot of water had flown under the bridge since a decade ago.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Sinn Féin still to learn that populism comes at a price

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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald meets up with US speaker Nancy Pelosi on her American tour last week.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

The Dáil kicked off again yesterday with the usual circus of press conferences, tetchy exchanges in the chamber and protests outside the gate. The first private members motion was tabled by the main opposition party, Sinn Féin, putting forward its own measures to assist with household bills.

Its main suggestion is to boot out this government and put Mary Lou McDonald in.

The regional group is next in line with a private members motion on Thursday. Surprise, surprise, it’s about the security of electricity supply.

The usual pre-Dáil niceties have now been dispensed with. All the political parties held parliamentary away days – or think-ins as they have been dubbed. I’m sure policy and strategy is discussed at some of them but the name of the game is to get your name up in lights before the Oireachtas kicks off.

As night follows day, it will only be a matter of days before the first no-confidence motion is tabled against a Government Minister. Given the huge price hikes in electricity and gas bills, it could be Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan who finds himself in the crosshairs of the opposition parties.

Then there’s the legislative programme. At the start of each new term, the Government Chief Whip Jack Chambers releases a list of about 40 Bills that are earmarked for publication before the session comes to an end. Getting half of them published would represent an exceptionally good performance.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Tough times are on their way for sure this winter

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Minister Eamon Ryan...proposals.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

I can’t remember where I saw the cartoon – or even when – but it made me laugh at the time, and I still relate it. It shows a man and his kid sitting on a couch looking at television. The man is telling the kid: “When I was your age, I had to get up from the couch and walk all the way to the television to change stations.”

Past hardships are a relative thing.

I come from a generation whose fathers would never tire of telling us that they walked to school barefooted (or badly shod) with a sod of turn in each hand to light the fire in the classroom.

The message was always very clear. The next generation always lives a more cosseted and privileged life than the previous one – and does not sufficiently appreciate the hardships, and sacrifices that were made.

Ireland has been relatively prosperous for a long while now and the difference (in most cases) of lifestyle between parents and children is much slimmer than it was in the past.

The biggest contrast was between those who grew up in the 1950’s or before and those who grew up from the late 1960’s onwards.

The word ‘ration’ has featured prominently in many news reports over the past week, here in Ireland and throughout Europe.

The continuing war in Ukraine is now having a very deep impact upon our economies, and by extension, on our way of life. Russia announced this week that it is cutting off the gas pipeline to western Europe until sanctions are lifted.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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