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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 1, 2009 @ 10:42 am

    Needed: Lucky Fianna Fáil Generals

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    The counting of votes in the European elections won’t start until 9pm on Sunday June 7th but we should know the outcome of the by-elections in the Dublin Central and Dublin South constituencies sometime the previous day, probably around lunchtime, and the make-up of the local authorities will also be known on the Saturday.


    Just the man to lead FF?
    (Photograph: Frank Miller)

    Since most EU states vote on June 7th instead of our chosen date of June 5th, we cannot start counting our Euro-ballots until the rest of Europe has also carried out its civic duty.  That’s for fear that we might influence the result elsewhere: a slim possibility but you can’t be too careful.

    All the anecdotal evidence currently suggests wipe-out for Fianna Fáil. Contacts say the Soldiers and Soldierettes of Destiny are getting dog’s abuse at the doors. Poll figures confirm the party’s low standing. There is little sign that the public is swallowing the harsh medicine required to stabilise (never mind restore) the economy. There is resentment, anger and despair on all sides and the people have more chips on their shoulders than you would get in a “wan-and-wan” at a Burdock’s fish-shop.

    Imagine yourself as a Fianna Fáil minister stepping in front of the cameras on Monday June 8th. If you are in wipe-out territory, what do you say? Tough it out, is probably the best option. “We are taking the necessary steps to ensure the future of this country. We knew these measures wouldn’t be popular but there was no other option, but it was our patriotic duty to think of future generations.” Et cetera.

    If the results are really as bad as the coffee-cooler conversation and pubtalk suggest, there may surely be internal party repercussions. TDs will become even more anxious about losing their seats in the next general election and some may jump ship a la Joe Behan. The “general” isn’t due until 2012 but if the Government starts losing votes in the Dáil it could be an awful lot sooner.

    Napoleon used to say he wanted lucky generals. Brian Cowen has not had much luck so far. Maybe Bertie Ahern’s popularity will bring the FF candidate home in Dublin Cental, especially if it’s his brother, Maurice. The party’s selection convention is next Wednesday night.  Maybe Fine Gael won’t hold its two seats in Ireland East/Leinster. Maybe the ball will bounce right for Cowen at last and our putative FF minister will be able to say: “It could have been worse, we held our own under very difficult circumstances, governments hardly ever win by-elections and our economic message is beginning to sink in at last.”

    Maybe the polls and the commentators are all wrong, but it seems unlikely. Bertie Ahern was poking fun at the political pundits this week, pointing out that at a book-launch that, despite their prophecies of doom, he ended up winning the May 2007 general election. “The Bert” was indeed a lucky general.

    • Keith says:

      My understanding is that they can’t *announce* any results until 9pm, but that they’ll start counting earlier in the day on Sunday 7th so that the first count is complete by 9pm.
      Not that it’s unlikely that that will change back and forth a few times between now and then anyway!

    • Kynos says:

      It’s a long road that has no turning and “the Bert” may well get his just desserts in this life. I’d have no worries about him not getting them ultimately, for he and the moral vacuum he dwells in have destroyed this country. This life or the next one. Fianna Fáil lost the Tao when CJH took over the party, which is, as Dev predicted it would be, destroyed. Bertie Ahern is a doppelganger of his former svengali, just a bit more outwardly “humble”. FF is a dead thing walking, it just doesn’t know it yet. The sad thing is that the last thing we need is a.n. other political party disappearing. We need more choice, not less. But anyway, sure maybe some good will come out of what’s happening to Ireland now. Like some good came out of the Second World War.

    • Tom says:

      I am getting my knife ready for the local elections ‘Night of the long Knives’

      et tu Bertie, et tu Brian, et tu Brian, et tu Mary, et tu Martin, et tu FFers

      We all know in civilised society there is no place for Mercenaries of Destiny, previously known as Soldiers of Destiny.

      When leadership fails it’s time to go.

    • Deaglán says:

      You’re right Keith. My mistake.

    • JD says:

      Deaglán, do your contacts suggest any negative feedback for the Greens?

      I know that they have only been in government since 2007. However, they are still having to defend government policy right now and could possibly suffer for doing so.

      My line of thinking is that a bad set of “interims” for them could well add to the instability of the government.

    • Joanna Tuffy T.D. says:


      Obviously I have a vested interest in this but there is a real tendency to portray the electorate’s turning on Fianna Fail as being only about anger and not wanting to take their medicine. I honestly have met people that who voted FF in the past and are now questioning the values that underpinned the FF/PD alliance over the last decade. Maybe the elections will show a much more fundamental shift in political support in this country than just a backlash against the sitting Government?


    • Deaglán says:

      Greens are getting it in the neck for “propping up FF” from what I hear.
      Joanna, I suspect you may have a point and that there is a more fundamental shift going on.


    • Liam says:

      Joanna, you maybe correct but don’t take that as validation of your own party, anyone I’ve talked to will happily agree with me that a FG-Labour or combo gov. would have “led” us to the same point. I don’t buy the idea that any political group or individual had the foresight or the mandate to stop the debt-f’uelled party back in ’97/’99.

    • robespierre says:

      I work in the private sector and there are very few people I know with any time for the Labour Party. They are against everything and in favour of little except propping up well-to-do pseudo-Fabians – at least a goodly portion of which are public sector workers.

      The usual mantra about tax exiles and bankers while being true in the sense that they need to be more stringently controlled in the future is populist claptrap.

      I am a registered but inactive member of Fine Gael but I would vote for Sinn Féin tomorrow if I felt they had a considered, credible plan. My problem is that if I vote for FG then I get Labour and I absolutely do not want the stasis that Labour caused in the 1980′s when it tied FitzGerald’s hands behind his back and the IMF was nearly called in.

      Sectional, vested interests like those consistently protected by the social “partners” and Fianna Fáil and Labour are strangling private sector jobs.

    • Kynos says:

      We’ve had enough lies and hypocrisy and lack of compassion (suicide for doomsayers, anyone? And other “failed persons” and “nitwits”) and squandering of the taxpayers’ money on tribunals because people won’t tell the truth and betrayal of Ireland’s core values and pandering to foreign despots and facilitating obscenities like illegal war and torture and protecting the cronies in the golden circle who have brought the country to this pass. Yeah I’d say there’s a fundamental change in the electorate out there. What’s that rumbling noise? The borborygmi of overstuffed bellies of the wheels of the tumbril?

    • Deaglán says:

      Borborygmi means stomach rumbles. I had to look it up.

    • Kynos says:

      Then I failed in my writing if you did, Deaglán. Never mind, why I write here is to learn how not to. That should be “or the wheels of the tumbril.” Must learn to reread before hitting submit. Must learn to reread before hitting submit. Must learn to reread before hitting submit. Must lear … I’m bored what’s next to lambaste?

    • Kynos says:

      That reads v. amusingly Deaglán

    • dealga says:

      Ireland has core values . . ?

    • Joanna Tuffy says:


      I agree your point about it not being validation of Labour. People are questioning, but where that might lead them on polling day is not yet settled.

      But as for Labour bringing us to the same point if we had been in Government – I would challenge that. Most recently we were the only party that voted against the blank cheque of a guarantee of all the bank loans, including the most reckless ones. From the outset Pat Rabbitte on our behalf has questioned the “systemic importance” of Anglo-Irish Bank and why all its debts needed that blanket guarantee.

      Back at least as far back as 1999 Eamon Gilmore, as our spokesperson on Environment and Local Government, warned against developer-led planning and the housing bubble. He initiated a Labour Commission on Housing chaired by Professor P.J. Drudy. The report Housing: A New Approach. Report of the Labour Party Housing Commission, Dublin, 1999 had very radical proposals about how to take the delivery of housing out of the hands of the big land speculators, who have turned out to be key players in the gambling approach to housing and land sales that has in turn made our recession worse than other countries.


    • Kynos says:

      Yeah Ireland does. Something about not betraying Ireland’s cause to cowardice inhumanity and rapine. Forgotten document has it so.

    • Des FitzGerald says:

      Ahern didn’t ‘win’ the last election. Rather he happened to make a deal quicker than Enda Kenny and thank God for Fine Gael he did and now for once FF will have to clean up its own mess.

      All Bertie did was grab power again at the worst possible time, ended up resigning in disgrace, then doomed his party to electoral slaughter when the penny finally dropped with those who vote FF that they are the reason why Ireland ranks so high on corruption league tables – and is so useless at getting anything done on time/budget or properly. Stop voting FF and things will improve. It’s that simple.

      Nice to see Ahern is so popular in places like Nigeria. I bet he’ll feel very much at home.

      Was Ahern himself lucky or is it the Irish people are fools?

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