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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 11, 2009 @ 10:50 am

    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.

     patthecope.jpg

     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.

    • Keith says:

      You forgot to include de Rossa’s response to the young journo who asked could he complete a 5 year term. He challenged him to a race around St Stephen’s Green. The journo – a good 40 years de Rossa’s younger, declined.

    • Georgia says:

      Sorry to hijack your blog Deaglán but I don’t know where else to vent. Saturday’s paper and the page 3 story about Johnny Ronan and who he was or was not dating, and the call to respect his privacy. This in the Irish Times?!?!

      If I wanted to read the Irish Daily Star I’d go out and buy it. Please, a little respect for your readers.

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      It’s fair enough that people ask George Lee these questions but I don’t think anyone can really accuse him of being biassed in his reporting – at least, not party-political. He has evidently been highly-critical of the government but I don’t think you would find any independent economic commentator who isn’t.

      How many people can come to politics with an entirely clean slate, 100% ethically sound and free of any suspicion of conlflicts of interest? Everyone has a past, a career or profession before politics. Our president used to work for RTE. Madam was a PD. Ivan Yates is now a media commentator/presenter and was an FG minister. Máiréad McGuinness was RTE. Brian Lenihan, formerly Minister for Justice, was a barrister and the current MinJust is a solicitor – conflicts of interest?

      As I say, it is fair enough to ask questions but to listen to some other parties or callers to Liveline one would think that it is possible for everyone to live in hermetically-sealed career bubbles.

      We fret about George having his picture taken while for years our TDs have used our money to send us propaganda with the Oireachtas stamp of approval, while the financial infrastructure behind Libertas remains unclear and uninvestigated, etc. etc.

    • paul m says:

      “the Dublin mayoralty would suit our former taoiseach better ”

      Please tell me that is sarcasm Deaglán. It was hard enough watching him put a torch to the countrys fortunes and run. So please, lets not have any encouragement for him to make a complete cock up of Dublin, its in a right old mess already without him contributing his mates’ two cents.

      A mayor with real powers to implement a proper strategy for sorting out Dublins redtape roundabout that is city council should go to someone who unlike what the former taoiseach says does not have a proven political track record.

      As we have seen those politicians with a proven track record has shown to be the downfall of our country thus far.

      Now to the elections, where’s the monster raving lunatic party when you need them?… oh right, I nearly forgot about Libertas. Not half as funny though.

    • Is mise says:

      No chance for Red Joe Higgins for a seat in Europe??

      I think he may go well

    • John says:

      Hi Deaglán, I would like to use this forum to state clearly that I am also not dating Glenda Gilson.

    • Deaglán says:

      Red Joe will do well and won’t hurt his chances of getting a Dail seat back if the general election is held soon.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      “less-than-gruntled”, I’m almost sure that was the title of a grunge album in the mid-90s.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      John, if we are to follow the template accurately you should be telling us you are not currently dating Glenda Gilson and even if you were at some point in the last three years that you are not anymore. I too am not dating Ms. Gilson, I’m also not seeing Angelina Jolie on a regular basis nor am I keeping Kate Bush company.

      As for Red Joe, with his constituency upping to four seats next time he should be a shoo-in.

    • Deaglán says:

      Dan, I got “less-than-gruntled” from a comic novel by P.G. Wodehouse which the English teacher used to read to the class in the old days in “Synger”.
      John: Glad you clarified all that. Brad Pitt please note.

    • Marcus says:

      For the last Dublin seat I think that it’s going to come down to a choice over whether you are looking for a pro-EU or anti-EU candidate. Mary Lou represents the latter and Eoin Ryan the former.

      Sinn Fein will find transfers from other parties difficult and with the swing from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’ in terms of Lisbon in recent opinion polls you can only expect that a packed field of euro-sceptics will mean that Mary Lou will find re-election difficult.

      Eoin Ryan may just get enough votes to cross the line with voters realising that having a strong and positive relationship with the EU will be good for our economy.

      We have certainly gained more from being part of the EU than if we had not been and I imagine that voters will be reminded over the course of the next few weeks just how important that relationship is.

      In terms of our sitting MEPs in Dublin, only Mary Lou can be classed as a euro-sceptic. I think when this distinction begins to emerge that it will be what swings the balance in Ryan’s favour. But only just. It will be a close contest and an exciting one!

    • Deaglán says:

      Sounds like you’ve made your mind up on that one, Marcus!

    • Hugh says:

      Deaglán

      I’ve heard mixed reports about Libertas’s chances; some think they will get wiped out, while I’ve heard of polling which suggests that Ganley will fight the good fight in the North-West. What do you think?

    • Deaglán says:

      I gather Ganley has a chance of a seat in North-West and that it is between Marian Harkin, Sinn Féin’s Padraig Mac Lochlainn and himself for the last seat. He is the only prominent Galway candidate apparently. Jim Higgins is generally regarded as a certainty and it is felt that Pat the Cope Gallagher will make it too, or so I am told. Paschal Mooney will have other ideas about that, no doubt! FF politicians tell me there is massive hostility out there on the doorsteps, but does it mean meltdown? Surely the core vote will hold. But these are unprecedented circumstances.


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