Hanna Montana and Fianna Fáil
Deaglán de Bréadún
One film I definitely won’t be going to see is Hanna Montana: The Movie. But the basic storyline suggests it is something Fianna Fáil strategists might take a look at. The main character is an ordinary teenager who becomes a pop superstar by the simple expedient of donning a blonde wig.
Will Pat the Cope (right) have cause to celebrate in three-and-a-half weeks’ time? (Photograph by Joe St Leger)
This could be the way – the only way – for FF to save themseves from the destruction that virtually every commentator, pundit, man-on-the-top-of-the-16A Bus and pub bore is forecasting for them at the moment.
Pat the Cope Gallagher has just announced he is running in North-West. Running-mate Paschal Mooney is reportedly less-than-gruntled. Small wonder, as many would say the Leitrim former senator’s chances have just gone up in smoke. But the Lord loves a trier and no doubt he will continue to fight the good fight.
Meanwhile in Dublin, Caroline Simons of Libertas is quoted as pointing out that her Labour rival, Proinsias De Rossa will be 70 years of age next year. Oh dear! Brian Cowen could have told her to stay away from that one. At a recent press conference, a somewhat-insensitive reporter quizzed De Rossa as to whether he would survive a five-year term. For the record, he looks extremely fit and healthy. If this keeps up, maybe he will sue someone for ageism.
Despite the prophecies of doom, Fianna Fáil have a reasonable chance of retaining their four seats. Pat the Cope should do it in the former Connacht-Ulster; Brian Crowley has been a big vote-getter in South and it will be a good dry run for the Presidential race in 2011 if “The Bert” doesn’t grab that one (the Dublin mayoralty would suit our former taoiseach better but the tribunal report could scupper him in the interim). In East (Leinster) the incumbent FFer, Liam Aylward, has not been very high-profile but with the aid of transfers from Meath’s Thomas Byrne, he should get over the line.
Dublin is a really interesting one: it has gone down from four seats to three and FF’s Eoin Ryan has to contend with this as well as the drop in his party’s popularity. Gay Mitchell and De Rossa must be sure bets here. That leaves Ryan fighting with Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein for the last seat. It is very difficult to know where SF stand in the public estimation at the moment. They have been complaining bitterly and continuously about alleged exclusion from RTE and, listening to them, you would almost think the Stickies were still running riot out there. A bad showing by SF will of course give a boost to the dissidents up North and there will be dancing in the street in Lurgan. Meanwhile Ryan twisted himself in knots the other day when this reporter asked him about his recommendation on transfers. He will need as many transfers as possible from running-mate Eibhlín Byrne, currently the city’s Lord Mayor. (The fact that there is no transfer arrangement with Senator Deirdre de Búrca of the Greens and that FF and the Greens are not in a voting partnership in the other constituencies either must be taken as an ominous sign for the future of the Government.)
FF are seasoned campaigners and once they get into their stride they may turn things around a bit. Cowen is the talented but under-performing pupil sitting in the back row of the class who could suddenly burst into life. For whatever reason, even anti-FFers seem to be delighted when he makes a half-decent speech, like teachers who have been waiting for their star under-achiever to shine at last.
Independents like Marian Harkin in North-West and Kathy Sinnott in South will have a fight on their hands, as Independents always do. Declan Ganley of Libertas is clearly targetting Harkin’s seat and Sinn Fein’s Padraig Mac Lochlainn is regarded as a formidable candidate but she’s a tough campaigner and will give as good as she gets.
In South (Munster), the main rival of Fine Gael’s Colm Burke (who took over Simon Coveney’s seat when the latter opted for the Dail) is Fine Gael’s Seán Kelly. And in East (Leinster) can Senator John Paul Phelan retain Avril Doyle’s old seat for Fine Gael or will it fall to Nessa Childers of Labour (formerly the Greens and with a family history in Fianna Fail)?
Meanwhile in the Dáil by-election in Dublin South, Fine Gael’s George Lee will be somewhat damaged by the revelation that he posed for campaign photographs five days before announcing he would stand for the party. This raises a number of questions such as (i) did he really only make his final decision over the weekend and (ii) if he had decided to stay in RTE, wouldn’t he have been compromised through his photographic relationship with the main opposition party? More pain for his former RTE bosses and fodder for his FF opponents. But he’s still way out in front by all accounts. The elegant Senator Maria Corrigan might have been a better candidate for FF than Shay Brennan – the old family pieties don’t work in the coldhearted metropolis.
This is going to be a fun three-and-a-half weeks for everyone except the losers.