Nominations close at 12 noon tomorrow (February 9). People can withdraw up to 12 noon Thursday. There are 5 seats and (at least) 13 candidates. Fine Gael has 4; Fianna Fáil has 2 (at last!); 1 from Labour; 2 from Sinn Féin; 1 from the Green Party and 3 Independents.
The latest Independent to declare is Loretta Clarke from north Mayo. I know the woman in question, quite well! She is standing because no one else is espousing the need she holds dear, namely a ‘charter of rights for the elderly.’ Birds and bats, frogs and snails, dogs and bogs all have specific protections in this EU-hugging country but older people do not. Older people are being denied a proper protection because of what some Europhiles call the ‘age time-bomb’ that is engulfing Europe. “Euthanasia by neglect” is how Loretta Clarke describes it. What does it say about our country when a 75 year-old woman feels that she has no alternative but to put her name on the ballot paper to highlight a national scandal?
Another woman in the fray is Lisa Chambers from Ballyheane, on the Fianna Fáil ticket. A Kings Inn final year student, Lisa is also the chair of the Castlebar FF Cumann. The other women belong to the Sinn Féin organisation, Therese Ruane and Rose Conway-Walsh and Fine Gael’s Michelle Mulherrin.
Some people are asking why Sinn Féin selected two candidates, claiming that it will split the vote. Why Charlestown based SF Cllr Gerry Murray is not standing as a single candidate when he is best placed to capitalise on SF popularity is a mystery. With Fianna Fáil in its current state of disarray it seems strange that Gerry Murray was not selected. Some wag suggested that the party is being ‘over-gendered.’
The irony is that when the numbers are totted up you could end up with SF and Labour in the melting pot of power. Some of the current Labour crop grew out of Official IRA roots while Gerry Adams SF emanated mainly from the Provisional IRA school of thought. Perhaps the ‘Stickies’ and the ‘Provos’ might have to do a deal on the steps of Leinster House, which neither recognised as the legitimate seat of power in the country!
Sinn Féin has an interesting history of popularity, revulsion, splits and personalities. Back in the 1940s a court case threw up interesting information. It was brought by Mrs Margaret Buckley (Bean Uí Buachalla), President of Sinn Féin and others on behalf of the organisation. The case was against the Attorney General (representing the people and Government of Ireland) and Circuit Court Judge Charles Wyse Power, as personal representative of his late mother, Mrs Jennie Wyse Power. The case is known as ‘Mrs Buckley versus the State.’ Bean Uí Buachalla was the longest serving President of Sinn Féin.
It centred on the ownership of funds (valued at circa £24,000 in 1947) lodged by the late Mr Eamonn Duggan and the late Mrs Wyse Power in 1924 as honorary treasurers of Sinn Féin. Mrs Buckley claimed that Sinn Féin was entitled to the money and not Sinn Féin’s President in 1924, Éamon de Valera, who was Taoiseach when the court action was started in the 1940s.
Dev introduced the Sinn Féin Funds Act, a Bill directing the High Court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claim without hearing it and providing for the disposal of the money. Dev’s Bill, described as an “arrogant claim” in an Irish Independent editorial, was declared “repugnant to the Constitution” by the Supreme Court. Both J A Costello and Seán MacBride were among Mrs Buckley’s legal team. The case went to a full court hearing.
The important issue in the case was not the money but the ‘legal succession’ claims of Sinn Féin. SF was established in 1905 with a constitution agreed in 1917. In the court judgement Mr Justice Kingsmill Moore said the Sinn Féin title went through three phases: 1905-1917; 1917-1922 and 1923-to the present day. In essence, this meant the leadership line rested with Mrs Buckley (Bean Uí Buachalla). That line and the 1917 SF Constitution is currently held by Republican Sinn Féin rather than Provisional Sinn Féin.
On 21 January 1919 the First (All-Ireland) Dáil sat. SF won 73 of the 105 seats. Independence was declared for the sovereign state known as the ‘Irish Republic.’ The Second (All-Ireland) Dáil met in August 1921 with claims it was never formally dissolved because the Treaty excluded Six-county representation. In 1938 Mayo’s Tom Maguire was one of seven members of the Second Dáil who signed over ‘authority of the Government of Dáil Éireann to the IRA Army Council’ until a new Dáil could be democratically elected in a 32-county Ireland. Does that mean today’s Dáil Éireann is something of a misnomer?