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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 25, 2009 @ 11:36 pm

    Battle Lines are Drawn

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Eleven days to go – only nine days’ canvassing – and the battle-lines are becoming clearer. I spent an hour at a Sinn Féin press conference in a remote location on the Quays (sorra fear they’d have it somewhere convenient for the hardpressed Leinster House ‘meeja’) where the main issue raised by the journoes, including yours truly, was whether or not Mary Lou McDonald was going to run in the general election.


     As in 2004, Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams will be keeping their fingers crossed again (Photograph by Brenda Fitzsimons)

    FF have not been raising this so much for whatever reason and have concentrated on the issue of her attendance record at the European Parliament. Ms McDonald is a good speaker but tends to make a speech at press conferences where a more concise response would be in order. 

    It’s a difficult one: if she says Yes, she will be running in the “General”, then her rivals will immediately come out and, as one voice, say it’s not worth voting for her. The same question has also been raised with Gay Mitchell, with an equally-vague answer. But Mitchell is seen as safe and not contending with FF’s Eoin Ryan for that third and final seat.

    If Ms McDonald says No and then turns around and runs for the Dáil, it will also be quite damaging in the longer term. Gerry Adams said Sinn Féin hadn’t decided yet. But the world knows that the SF team in the Dáil does not have anyone on a par with, say, Eamon Gilmore or Richard Bruton. They need Mary Lou in the chamber and, observers say, would be mad not to run her in the General Election. Everyone seems to know this but if SF say it out openly they will lose serious numbers of votes in the European race. Politics is a strange business.

    Meanwhile in Ireland East, it is getting sharp and rough. The formidable Avril Doyle had a “right go” at Labour’s Nessa Childers, calling her a “Foxrock Girl” and accusing Labour of shamelessly exploiting her republican/FF family name and background.

    It’s true: I have reported on how Ms Childers stood outside Supervalu in Tullow and was introduced again and again and again and again as “Nessa Childers – you probably remember her father, President Childers.”

    Irish people are influenced by such considerations. In a way it means they are terrible eejits but there is something endearing about it at the same time: the respect for family and for prominent people who are gone.

    Avril Doyle would probably have breezed home if she had run again. Instead, FG have Senator John Paul Phelan, a young, cleancut candidate who can look forward to a good transfer from his runing-mate, Mairéad McGuinness who is an American-style candidate with a big smile and wide appeal.

    Ms Childers fluffed a radio interview on agricultural issues and FG were on her case immediately. There will be more of this, if the main opposition party gets its way. Labour may not be offering her for ritual sacrifice on the airwaves, however.

    One of the interesting developments in this election is the  political cleavage that has developed between FG and Labour. It’s one thing to be joining forces against B.  Cowen in the Dáil, another when there are seats in Europe or Leinster House or even on the local council at stake. All’s fair in love and war – and politics.

    • Kynos says:

      Interesting photo. Are they practising for when they swear their Westminster Oaths?

    • dealga says:

      I feel an incredible urge to begin chewing my fist when Mary Lou starts to talk.

      “Let me be clear when I say…” then says nothing at all.

      “I want to be upfront about this…” then is entirely evasive.

      Etc, ad nauseam.

      And people get taken in by this nonsense. Eejits, as you say, but not just for the reason you said it.

    • Tony S says:

      Best comment I heard about SF was …

      ‘There goes Sinn Féin again, boring everyone for Ireland’

      or words to that effect

    • gracey says:

      Isn’t is worse that people (the eejits) got fooled by Fianna Fáil in the last General Election. Fooled by their lies time and time again

    • Grace says:

      People were worse eejits in 2007 at the last general election when they were conned by FF and their lies

    • Deaglán says:

      I see that “eejits” reference has really caught on. I’m rushing off to an assignment but a colleague tells me Mary Lou had a different line on the General Election when she appeared on the Vincent Browne show last night. It should be available on http://www.tv3.ie

    • Kynos says:

      “The formidable Avril Doyle had a “right go” at Labour’s Nessa Childers, calling her a “Foxrock Girl” and accusing Labour of shamelessly exploiting her republican/FF family name and background.” – eh, this would be the same Avril Doyle whose Grandad was FF/CnaG/FG TD Patrick Belton, whose Dad was Richard Belton FG Senator, whose uncle was Jack Belton FG TD; whose other uncle was Paddy Belton FG TD; whose second cousin (I think) was Luke Belton FG TD and whose other second cousin was Louis Belton FG? Who speaks in a voice most suited for calling home the cattle across the sands of Dee or demanding from the lofty heights of a percheron stallion that the peasants get out of her road? Yes? And she was accusing some other pol of exploiting family connections and being from a tony part of the Pale? Yes? Right. I see.

    • Kynos says:

      Something about this place being a Repuublic yeah? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Families_in_the_OireachtasWho in their right minds would go into Irish politics unless they were born to the Ermine? Indeed none of that lot came with vivid faces from counter or desk among grey / Eighteenth century houses. Indeed sweet damn all’s changed changed utterly. You got rid of one shower of aristos and shoved in another. Le roi est mort vive le roi.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      “Who in their right minds would go into Irish politics unless they were born to the Ermine” I’ve had a few cracks at it, but I’m from stubborn stock.

    • Kynos says:

      My Lord. Someone spoke back to me. They weren’t rude. I think I need to go away for awhile and think about this.

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