Election De Facto
Election candidates were normally told about the state of the roads. Today, we simply jive our cars among a kaleidoscope of potholes. There is a sense of desperation ahead of this election – an angst that all is lost, or if not all, almost all.
Wannabe politicians appear like spectral beings on a horizon of hopelessness, all promises and smiles, full of sound and fury and signifying what? Many people are disillusioned with the politics of promises, which is still so evident. Fianna Fáil has changed overcoats, but the heart remains intact. Micheál Martin is waffling around the country at a rate of knots, without a speck of shame. Fianna Fáil still does not get it, it’s that simple!
That is a huge problem for the so-called Republican Party. Perhaps they should change their name to the Europats because they have sold the country to Germany and France without a battle. Irish elections are now held in the shadow of the Euro eagle.
Dara Calleary and his party colleagues will have a hard stomp on the canvass. Their Fianna Fáil legacy in general is atrocious and the reduction of the minimum wage is Dara’s department. To claim that this would create jobs is like claiming that voting ‘yes’ in the Lisbon Treaty would create jobs. We know where that went! Dara is most personable but people are hurting because of decisions made by the party. His party colleague, Lisa Chambers, is enthusiastic. Only the party insiders can give the reason for choosing someone who is a relative unknown.
Ballina will tell a tale with Dara Calleary’s position hotly contested by Fine Gael’s Michelle Mulherin. She came close the last time out. She just lost the throw of the dice. This time with such an appetite for change, and a desire among many people for a strong Fine Gael team from Mayo headed up by a would-be Taoiseach, Michelle is in a strong position. Her selection is making Dara Calleary’s job much more difficult.
To make matters more complicated there is Loretta Clarke. She is no one’s fool, strong-minded and able. At 75 years young, some (especially in the media) might think she is there to fill a proverbial ‘batty granny’ slot – until you meet her! From the respected Clarke family in Ballina, Loretta is gathering support from several quarters as an Independent candidate. Her father John, brother Jackie and nephew Peter were elected to Ballina Town Council. John Clarke also swept the boards as a Mayo County Councillor. Loretta’s name on the ballot paper is certainly giving Ballina, Crossmolina and Killala, in particular, a greater choice. Her voice on the airwaves is commanding, challenging and strong. She is seen as the voice of the elderly. Her decision not to keep the salary if elected but to distribute it annually among Mayo charities is another first. In any case, Loretta will make sure her message, a bill of rights for the elderly as a priority, will be heard. A sniping, ageist remark from a Fine Gael Ballina Town Cllr that “Loretta Clarke is a joke” demands an immediate apology. Anyone with basic respect and decency abhors such distasteful and shameful comments.
Other Independents are Dermot Mc Donnell from Castlebar. He has an impressive knowledge on wind energy, (and good musical taste, quoting Dylan on his literature). Regardless of what wind energy we produce we cannot transfer it to the national grid because the infrastructure is so inadequate. Those with the power (no pun intended) have no intention (to date) of pumping the necessary money into Mayo. Perhaps a Mayo Taoiseach could change that! Seán Forkin is also on the list.
Martin Daly from the Mayo Reform Movement and New Vision (a national ‘technical group’ of Independent candidates) knows where he stands on vital issues: Separate the bank debt from sovereign debt; Cut the quangos and downsize the Dáil; Get a better deal from our natural resources. He is also a strong pro-life candidate, an issue that Labour has floundered on over the past few weeks. The right to life is the basic human right. All other rights depend on that right. This argument about a ‘right to choose’ does not and cannot supersede the right to be born. Martin will enjoy support across the board and especially from people who are also worried about the dominant role of Europe in our (supposedly) sovereign state. (Many people feel it is such a pity that Declan Ganley did not put his name on the ballot paper, either in Galway East or Mayo.)
The strongest Independent is Michael Kilcoyne, a recovering Labouroholic. He left Labour, or rather, it left him. He is much the better for it and his record as a town and county councillor proves it. He has earned everything he has, regardless of Labour or any other party. He is a serious contender for a Dáil seat. The transfers from Enda Kenny will be interesting but do not dismiss him as only a ‘Castlebar candidate.’
Labour’s Jerry Cowley will find it hard, just as Labour is finding it difficult on the home straight.
The party peaked too early and then could not come up with the substance. Jerry Cowley is capable, talented and an asset. The fear is that Labour is not big enough for him.
Sinn Féin is still strong nationally and will slug it out with Fianna Fáil for third place. Thérèse Ruane and Rose Conway-Walsh are good councillors and while both will probably poll strongly the question remains about the party strategy in running two candidates when the national sentiment is in the party’s favour.
The Green Party’s John Carey will have a struggle. His party has become synonymous with being power hungry and creating taxes with both feet planted firmly in the clouds. The party has disgraced itself in Government and is so out of touch that it beggars belief. This election will show that John Gormley and his band of merry (wo)men have consigned the Green Party back to the undergrowth.
It will be Fine Gael’s day. Enda Kenny will emerge as Taoiseach. Michael Ring not only deserves to get elected but also merits a senior ministry. He has saved the party on more than one occasion, as even John Bruton can testify. Ringo would make a great Social Affairs minister. He knows the brief and can make realistic, honest, fair and tough decisions as required.
There is concern within party ranks that some of John O’Mahony’s crew are knocking on Ringo’s doors. Every party engages in such in-party nonsense at election time but now is not the time for distractions within Fine Gael, on the cusp of an historical breakthrough. Fine Gael would be better off to be strong enough to have the support of a few Independents rather than Labour. With each passing day Labour seems to be more of a millstone.
It must always be said that all candidates deserve respect for being brave enough to place their names on the ballot paper. It is a very public exercise and can be humiliating for some. Whoever wins, maybe the potholes will be filled in at least!