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The people have spoken – but what did they say?

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Taking a peek at the votes for Galway West in the count centre at the Bailey Allen Hall in NUIG. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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

I  think Bill Clinton’s well-minted phrase is very apt in light of what happened this weekend. Speaking about the outcome of the 2000 presidential election involving George W Bush and Al Gore, he said:

“The American people have now spoken, but it’s gonna take a little while to determine exactly what they said.”

There have been times in the past that the mathematics of election outcome have forced unlikely – and until then inconceivable – combinations.

Look at the deals Fianna Fáil did with the Progressive Democrats in 1989 and with the Labour Party in 1992.

But this is a horse of a different colour. With the Dáil reduced to 158 seats, no party is within 25 seats of reaching the magic number of 78. Even if Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin were to completely do the dirt on their solemn electoral vows and try to form a coalition, they would still be over ten seats short of gaining a majority.

And so of course, all attention has now turned to the two large parties. On Saturday evening Fine Gael’s election looked headed for a disastrous with the possibility of it being eclipsed by Fianna Fáil.

The parties finished with only one percentage point of support separating them which is extraordinary. But Fine Gael got a bit of a seat bounce that allowed it increase the gap and creep over 50 seats.

That was largely thanks to the transfers of losing Labour TDs. Sinn Féin also gained seats but disappointed its own expectations. It had some good wins but lost out in some key constituencies.

The loss of Padraig Mac Lochlainn’s seat in Donegal was a terrible blow and the failure of Trevor Ó Clochartaigh’s in Galway West and Paul Donnelly in Dublin West were also surprises.

For the Labour Party it is a disaster and there is no glossing it. Elections are an Old Testament experience for the smaller party and they were well and truly smited. The exact moment it lost this election was February 2011 when it placed the infamous Tesco Ad.

There’s no doubt that Fianna Fáil were the big winners, given where they came from. Sinn Féin has used the genius (and disingenuous) argument that it’s the second worst election in Fianna Fáil history.

Which is true – but the worst was 2011 and to come from there to where it is now is a big big achievement.

The party caught momentum and then some. Its messages on fairness struck a better chord that that of the other parties. Micheál Martin bested his rivals in the key debates and interviews.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Corporation Tax provides cash for Budget giveaway

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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe: "the needs of the people are significant".

World of Politics with Harry McGee

I have seen some extraordinary budgets in my time. There were the giveaway budgets (Fianna Fáil 2001 and again in 2007) just before general elections.

There were the Covid budgets that allowed enough cash to pay everybody still in a job and pay everybody who was out of a job.

There were the hair shirt budgets (from 2008 to 2014) when the country was going down the tubes.

And there was Charlie McCreevy’s infamous decentralisation budget which was a great idea but a lousy way to go about it.

This week’s Budget fitted snugly into that category of out-of-the ordinary. In addition to a whopping €6.9 billion of additional funding in the Budget itself, there was an estimated €4.1bn extra in once-off spending in the cost-of-living package. So that’s €11 billion in spending altogether on Tuesday. It’s a big chunk of change in anybody’s language.

It was pure auction politics. First the Government said it would put an additional €1 billion in the once-off package, then it said it would put €2 billion into it, then we heard rumours of €3 billion and now it’s topped €4bn. Of course, the auction was joined into by the Opposition. They have all proposed packages that will involve considerably more spending than the Government’s Euromillions. Sinn Fein is at €13.5 billion. God knows what People Before Profit proposes to spend (it’s not easy to quantify) but its stratospheric. At least its message of spending everything we have got, nationalising everything we have got, is consistent.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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.

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

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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