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No staying power: Fianna Fail have moment of glory stolen

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James Charity and Lucinda Creighton in happier times, before he rained on her parade

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

What ever happens in the Dáil this week, for most it will feel like the club fixtures in a county the weekend after it wins the All Ireland. There will be much basking in glory for Labour and Fine Gael and it will seem at least they are going through the motions in terms of the ordinary business.

No so Fianna Fáil. It should have been there enjoying its place in the sun. In the early hours of Sunday morning it made a big breakthrough. After six failed attempts since 2011, it finally won a by-election, when Bobby Aylward triumphed in Carlow-Kilkenny.

The party faithful cheered, letting it be known that this was the moment when the party was finally leaving the political wilderness.

But within a day, its high-profile senator Averill Power was raining on its parade. After building up such hope, everything came tumbling down.

Power’s resignation sent shockwaves through the party.

She was the only Fianna Fail Oireachtas member who was visibly very active throughout the same-sex marriage campaign and it was obvious she was frustrated  and angry at the indolence of her party’s TDs and Senators.

She said Fianna Fáil’s lack of involvement was the straw that broke the camel’s back but. if truth be told, it was more like the round bale that broke said camel’s back.

A few weeks back she asked TDs and Senators campaigning in Kilkenny to at least wear Yes badges and they refused, with some laughing at her, she said. That’s been disputed by party leader Micheal Martin.

The manner of her departure was cold-blooded enought. She put the boot into Martin in her statement and Fianna Fail people were very put out that she had not contacted him out of courtesy before announcing her departure. The best she could say about the party leader was that he was “well meaning”. Talk about being damned by faint praise.

Martin sniped back at her all day and we got into a tit-for-tat row about the motivations of all sides. Fianna Fail said she left because she might be running second fiddle to Sean Haughey in Dublin Bay North. She denied vehemently that she had ever demanded to be the only candidate in the constituency.

There was more than a grain of truth in Power’s charge of the lack of intensity in Fianna Fáil efforts on behalf of the Yes campaign. It might have participated and been active in Dublin but its supporters were invisible elsewhere. They could say that Fine Gael backbenchers down the country were the same. That was true: there were few party canvasses by the bigger parties outside Dublin and the main urban areas.

But that’s not the point. Fine Gael is not a party trying to renew itself as a radical and republican party. Fianna Fáil could  have tried hard.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Áras an Uachtaráin and the constitutional ties that bind

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Making headlines... President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina during their visit to the Galway 1916 Exhibition in the former Connacht Tribune Print Works on Market Street.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Those who become President of Ireland are, metaphorically, provided with a silken gag; for the seven years they reside in Áras an Uachtaráin, they are supposed to keep their opinions and personal political persuasions to themselves.

The relevant Article in the Constitution sets out this rule: “No power or function conferred on the President by law shall be exercisable or performable by him save only on the advice of the Government.”

The President is not allowed to leave the State without first receiving the advice (i.e. the permission) of the Government. Theoretically, every speech they make needs to be run by the government first.

The President is said to be “above politics”. That meant they are not subject to any criticism from parliament or from the government. The other side of the coin is that it is expected the President will not wander into the political forum.

For most of the time since the office of the President was established in 1937, these rules have caused no major problems. With one exception.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Trimble leaves a legacy of peace to be proud of

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David Trimble...lasting legacy.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

The death of David Trimble brought back memories of the time he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize almost a quarter of a century ago, along with John Hume, for their efforts in securing the historic Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

It could be argued that others should have been also on the plane to Oslo that winter, namely Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness also played an important role by steering the hard men of the IRA on a path that saw them end their campaign of violence and accept a political solution achieved by solely democratic means.

Of course, it would have been a blatant contradiction to award a peace prize to Adams and McGuinness given their instrumental roles in a republican movement that prosecuted a ruthless armed strategy for almost 30 years right up to that time. The Damascene conversion in 1998 did not erase what had gone before.

Certainly, Hume and those around him from the SDLP – particularly Séamus Mallon – deserved all the praise they got for their selfless pursuit of a political pathway and their brave eschewal of all forms of violence as they grappled with the unique set of circumstances of Northern Ireland.

That said, Trimble showed a huge degree of personal courage and resilience in facing down his critics and enemies – and there were many loud and bitter voices condemning him on the unionist side – and persevering with the talks that culminated with the historic agreement in Hillsborough Castle on that Good Friday in early April in 1998.

But it would have been unimaginable for him to be in that position three years before hand or even three years afterwards when the UUP began imploding around him. The important thing was that he stayed the course during that crucial period.

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

Heat is on for action over climate change

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Red hot...temperatures soared across Europe this week.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

The hottest day I remember in my life was when we went on holiday to Crete over 20 years ago. The temperature was in the forties and you could hardly move in the heat.

My stand-out memory is of my wife Fiona buying an ice cream cone for me in a town called Chania. It melted all over her hands during the 30 or so steps it took to get to me.

This week, Ireland recorded its hottest day in the 20th or 21st century when the Phoenix Park in Dublin hit 33 degrees Celsius. It’s not the highest on record though; that dates all the way back to 1887 – 33.3 Celsius at Kilkenny Castle.

Every time we have an extreme weather event, someone is inevitably going to pop up and say: “That’s global warming.”

It is and it isn’t. It isn’t because the temperature in Kilkenny Castle during the 19th Century reminds us that we have always go extremes of hot and cold, of rain, of wind, of storms.

However, it is the patterns and the more frequent recurrence of such events that illustrate that climate change is happening and the planet is heating. It’s one degree warmer now than it was in preindustrial times. If the mercury continues to rise, the planet is going to be in deep trouble.

As Met Éireann’s head of forecasting Evelyn Cusack said this week: “Unfortunately, climate change is here. When we get the air masses coming up from Europe, we too will experience some extreme weather and extreme weather events.”

This particular heatwave for us is the tail of the comet. The comet itself is Europe which has been in full heatwave mode for a few weeks, as has much of the Northern hemisphere.

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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