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New politics does not embrace Renua

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New politics spells the end for Renua. Eddie Hobbs & Lucinda Creighton in happier times

Political parties must spend their time these days trying to second-guess what the other parties might like.

Sinn Féin’s Private Members Bill on rent certainty (linking increases to the consumer index) launced this week was designed to look attractive to Fianna Fáil.

We are going to see a lot of this as ‘new politics’ becomes ‘old politics’: tick-tacking between two or three parties with a mutual interest to undermine another party.

These will be temporary little arrangements done on a week-by-week and day-by-day basis.

Some of it will be guess-work. Sinn Féin, for example, might pore through Fianna Fáil policy papers to see if they can find common ground on, say, a health policy. The private members motion will be framed in language that is uncannily similar to Fianna Fáil.

I would not be surprised if there are informal communications happening between the two main opposition parties to finesse their private members business to cause the maximum embarrassment to the Government when it suits.

New politics has become a cliche already but it does reflect that lots of things will be different.

 

Sometimes new politics just doesn’t work out how people want it to be. The public astounds the best-intentioned politicians with their ingratitude.

It looks like barely a year and a bit after its formation Renua is also facing the axe.

When Lucinda Creighton organised a public meeting in the RDS in the winter of 2014, she seemed to have captured a zeitgeist.

Creighton’s political outlook would not be everybody’s cup of lemon tea but unlike many others she managed to form a party. To its credit it also tried to develop a deep policy platform, with radical ideas.

But many of the ideas were more suited to the more partisan and divided world of US politics than to Ireland, where the gravitational pull of the centre is overpowering.

The idea of a flat tax was a good example. It was very different. But if you were mega wealthy you would be on a big winner with this with a much smaller percentage of your income going to the Revenue. At the other end of the scale those with very modest incomes would find themselves paying more tax.

While Renua included some correctives to this, it could not overcome the sense that it was deeply unfair to little people.

The party had other disadvantages. It grew out of the anti-abortion rump in Fine Gael and no amount of slick marketing could disguise that.

It also had difficulty finding the right calibre of candidate. It was a niche party and that niche was a small one. Indeed none of the new alliances made much ground, despite all the brave new world rhetoric.

The Social Democrats remained as they were; Shane Ross’s crowd gained one, and the Alphabet Alliance did best of all adding three (Joe Higgins, who was retiring, could not be counted).

As for Renua, Creighton, in particular, was a politician of great ability and will be a loss to Irish politics. I actually thought Renua had collapsed with Creighton’s loss. It had no national politicians, just a handful of councillors, the best known of which was John Leahy in Offaly.

But it’s a truth of Irish politics that the smaller the party the bigger the split. There are apparently two wings in the party – one Christian Democrat, the other Social Democrat.

The latter wanted the party to rebrand as a liberal democratic party and was fishing for a recently elected senator (un-named but obviously Michael McDowell) to become its leader. That effort seems to have been thwarted.

The chief mover among the modernisers was party president Eddie Hobbs. He resigned last night. That indicated the other side had prevailed.

Will this micro-party survive? Absolutely not. In fact, the only groups that have made real gains against the traditional forces are Sinn Féin and the Independents.

The latter group for everything, and nothing. They could not be said to be left, as some claim. If anything they are a little to the right.

For more onf Harry McGee’s thoughts on the ‘New Politics’ see this week’s digital edition here or download the Connacht Tribune App

Connacht Tribune

Hard to tackle housing crisis with nebulous vacancy stats

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin...disputing vacancy stats.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics – which can make it really hard to get a handle on how many vacant homes there are in the State.

According to census data, from the Central Statistics Office there are 180,000 of them. However, that figure has been contested; GeoDirectory data puts it at 90,000.

Then several local authorities have done their own studies of their own. In one pilot study of three local electoral areas, Dublin City Council looked at 213 homes. It confirmed that 49 of those were vacant and only 16 were confirmed long-term. That was ten per cent of the total.

During the week the Oireachtas Housing Committee published a report on urban renewal – with some very powerful recommendations. What is of more interest is its findings.

One of the witnesses, architect Mel Reynolds, estimated there were 137,000 homes vacant based on census figures. While the committee did not adopt that figure, the media certainly ran with it.

We reported that a vacant home tax would be applied to 137,000 homes throughout the State – and the Government took issue with that. It contested the 137,000 figure, with even Taoiseach Micheál Martin saying it was too high.

The Department of Finance is now completing a report with its own estimate of vacancy. It’s basing its figures on the returns for the Local Property Tax. We can conclude that the extent of vacancy is far lower than 137,000.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Three snapshots to show the shifting sands of time

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Border poll...Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill and Mary Lou McDonald.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Three snapshots of Ireland in the here and now -and none of them have to do with Covid-19. But each of them, in its own way, shows the shifting sands of politics and, indeed, of society.

1. The North

On Tuesday the UK foreign secretary Liz Truss announced she would be introducing new legislation which will radically re-engineer the Northern Protocol.

The Protocol is a bit of a tough nut to crack when it comes to explaining. It is essentially the rules that have been laid down to allow the North stay in the EU’s common market.

Goods originating from the North and being exported to the EU (and obviously the South is in the EU) do not have to have any checks. But goods coming over from Britain to Northern Ireland have had to be checked to comply with EU standards.

Of course, that added layers of bureaucracy especially for foods and medicines. And an effective border down the Irish Sea.

About 85 percent of the goods coming into the North from the UK stay in the North. But if they allowed all goods to come in without checking that would make the North a handy backdoor to bring sub-par goods and materials into the EU.

Politicians down here have said the North has the best of both worlds: access to the EU markets while being part of the UK. But it just has not worked out like that, whether that’s a psychological block or a real one, I’m not sure.

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

Election drama – but now the long stalemate begins

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Winners...Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill triumphant in the North.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Sinn Féin’s historic victory in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections was accompanied by the slick choreography the party has perfected when it comes to celebrating its wins.

The party leaders are treated like rockstars when they arrive into count centres. Selfies are not used to take photographs of yourself. They are used as vehicles to allow other photographers to take photographs of you taking a selfie.

You can’t quibble though at the triumph. Over 250,000 people voted for Sinn Féin in the Assembly elections.

That might have been an increase of only one per cent and the party, with 27 seats, may not have increased its number of seats in the 90-seat assembly- but it was the relative position of Sinn Féin to others that matter.

The DUP saw its vote share tumble by 6.7 per cent to 21.3 percent and lost three seats, bringing its total to 25.

More pertinently for Sinn Féin its great nationalist rival, the SDLP, had a lousy election. It lost four seats, and saw its vote share slip by almost three per cent to nine per cent, relegating it to the fifth biggest party in the Assembly.

The other big shift in the election was the surge in Alliance seats. It more than doubled its representation to 17 (from eight) and saw an increase of almost five points in its vote share.

It was a triumph for Naomi Long and her party, and showed that Alliance has really extended its base beyond soft unionism to take in those (including a growing constituency in the nationalist community) who no longer subscribe to identity politics.

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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