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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 8, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

    To Hell rather than Connaught

    Harry McGee

    cuiv.jpg

    Fianna Fáil’s woes have been compounded by the mess in North-West.

    Fine Gael’s major delay in announcing a candidate for Dublin South looked like a dodgy strategy for a long time, leaving the field open to Senator Alex White, Labour’s very plausible candidate.

    But as soon as George Lee was unveiled – or unleashed – it all made sense. I know that there’s still a race to be run but there’s a Barack like unstoppability to the nation’s most famous economist.

    Fianna Fail need to do that, and do that quickly, in North West. Its problem: There’s no George. There’s not even a second-rate George. They have just three days now to rescue it all and short of recruiting Kiefer Sutherland to save them within 24 hours, they are in a pickle.

    What the party needs is the following: Somebody with name recognition through this massive constituency (Connaught, three Ulster counties; Clare in Munster; and parts of Westmeath in Leinster). The person needs substance, either as an experienced politician or an authoritative figure elsewhere. And they need to have the campaigning muscles to make it to Brussels in four weeks flat.

    It’s a mess. Seán Ó Neachtain didn’t help matters yesterday by reminding them they needed to pick a candidate fast. He’s the reason for that. So better for him to keep his own counsel.

    Éamon Ó Cuív has already ruled himself out of the race, categorically. In spite of untold pressure. So has Noel Treacy. Micheál Kitt is also reluctant.

    Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher is willing and could win the seat. But he’s in Donegal, too close to the second candidate, Paschal Mooney, who is in Leitrim. If Pat ‘the Cope’ ran, Fianna Fáil would need to seek a ‘sweeper’ candidate in Galway or Clare, as Fine Gael did last time round with Madeleine Taylor-Quinn.

    It’s the stop Declan Ganley campaign. He’s the only Galway candidate as things stand and must have a chance of winning. When I go down to my home place in Galway, I’m told that people aren’t warming to him. But there’s also a big ‘silent’ Catholic vote in that constituency (from which Dana drew votes) that Ganley can tap into. Without a credible Fianna Fail candidate to cover Galway and Mayo, he’s in a very strong position.

    And that’s not to discount the challenge of Pádraig Mac Lochlainn of Sinn Féin. Not to be ruled out of the equation under any circumstances. And strangely, the sense I’m getting from people on the ground is that the independent MEP Marian Harkin should be strong enough to retain her seat.

    It will be an interesting weekend.

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      Surely for Libertas it’s a pity C. Simons is in Dublin and Ganley is in Galway? One would imagine the ultra-conservative shtick has less appeal in Dublin than in Galway and Ganley’s job-creation mantra (however stupid, given that this is an EU election and not national) would go down better in Dublin.

      PS. Has anyone noticed how difficult it is to get information on the candidates running for Libertas on the main libertas.eu site? It’s hard to navigate and, in an ironic twist, renders the organisation rather faceless. Like a certain multinational conspiracy of bureaucrats etc. etc.

      Not as bad as the unmitigated disaster that is the new Fine Gael site, mind you – it just doesn’t work at all.

    • michaelstrasb says:

      Of the three serious candidates in the north-west (Independent MEP Marian Harkin, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn of Sinn Féin and Paschal Mooney of Fianna Fáil) it is obviously unlikely that more than one will get through though Marian Harkin appears popular outside of the local region. It would of course be extremely ironic were Paschal Mooney to get elected alongside Marian Harkin in that Leitrim would have two candidates elected to Brussels and none to the Dáil.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      I wonder if FF could run Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher and solve the geography problem by getting PascHal Mooney to step aside too then letting FF put forward Michael Crowe as sweeper in Galway. Pascal could get back into the Seanad if either Dan Boyle or Deirdre de Búrca (Taoiseach’s nominees both) were elected as well! The latter is more far fetched I admit.

    • Niall says:

      The thing about Ganley tapping into the Catholic vote is that he doesn’t really advertise himself as Catholic all that much. I haven’t read any recent copies of Alive, but bar an appearance at some religious society’s meeting in Roscommon, he doesn’t seem to have done all that much to court the conservative Catholic vote. And to be honest, I’m not sure that constituency is as large as some imagine it to be,

    • Major Alfonso says:

      The thing about Ganley and the lack of advertising of his ‘Catholic’ qualities is that he’s better off not scaring those suspicious of these qualities. The Catholic vote recognises its own, whether it be by smell or the modality of language or what have you. His pro-jobs shtick (on which I cannot for the life of me see how he can deliver) is one for the dole queues which are long down west, especially on places like Connemara where the building bust has really done damage.

      Personally I’ll be ashamed should I end up represented by Ganley and Dana, I’m no FFer and have never sent a transfer their way but I’d rather have one of them support the Liberal group in the Parliament or even pal around with the Gaullists than have conservative fringe politicians obsessed over personal morality and weak (or downright subservient) in the face of corporate power. Give me a genuine legislator with transparent principles over those two!

    • david wine says:

      the thing that makes me mad is the compliance of the irish not only are they so tolerent about the way they have been ripped off for years they are just silent on everything
      the country is doomed the government are just taking no action in tackeling the monster of public sector pay the obscene expenses and the non competitive industries trying to keep a lid on grossly inflated costs of doing buisness
      there is no alternative government which is reinforced by the announcement that mcdowell is now the new recruit for fina gail or fail
      lets just tax everyone to the hilt and bury our heads in the sand hoping for the nightmare to end it will not till paddies wake up and say no more and elect a government who acts for the people not lining their pockets and this is not on offer from any political party in this country

    • Jonathan says:

      Well, if I had to choose between Hell and Connaught, I’d take Hell any day (I’m a warm weather flower).


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