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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 7, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

    Sunday night 22.20

    Harry McGee

    I’m sitting at a table in the middle of the vast indoor auditorium at RDS Simmonscourt, after filing the latest copy on the Dublin euro constituency. In the distance George Hook is holding court at the Newstalk braodcasting stand watched by an audience of political hangers-on and anoraks. All of the Euro candidates are here.

    I’ve been drumming out copy all day so Seamus Heaney can rest easy in his bed tonight.

    But I will share a couple of observations.

    Lord, forgive me for giving out about Twitter in the past. It was brilliant this weekend. Not just from RTE but from all the other 100 of sources who overloaded my iphone with information. I even tweeted (see I’m catching on to the lingo) myself twice this weekned (I know, I really extended myself).

    The Greens are in a dark place. From 18 to 3 councillors. It’s the second big narrative of the weekend.  There’s a line from Macbeth that comes to mind:

    “I am in blood steeped in so far that should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er.”

    Or to be a little less high faluting. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    More damned if they don’t. They are going to have to stay in Government or they are gone.

    The biggest story – well the political one besides the showbiz story of George Lee – is the evisceration of Fianna Fail. It shows the cyclical nature of politics. Labour were reduced to one councillor in Dublin  in 1985. Fine Gael had only three TDs in Dublin after the disaster of 2002. Now Fianna Fail is facing its own crisis, having been salamandered in the capital.

    A break: Third count for Dublin announced. The gap between Eoin Ryan and Joe Higgins is 13,000. Fianna Fail is still holding out a slim hope of, well, holding out. Full recount ordered at the request of Deirdre de Burca.

    Looks like we will be here until 3am.

    Fianna Fail should never have won in 2007. The party’s Government cycle had expired. But Fine Gael had been so badly wounded in 2002 that it had not fully recovered. And Cowen and Bertie put in two barnstorming performances that scythed the Fine Gaelers.

    And Cowen? It’s not looking good for him. For a long time I thought he was doing rope-a-dope, taking the knocks and waiting until the final rounds (later this year; early next year) to strike back. Media and oppositon can be Pavlovian – “God, this is really bad for the Government, isn’t it? – portraying difficulties as full-blown crises.

    This time is different. I have a sense that we are entering the endgame.

    • Gerry Mac Donagh says:

      Great day for Democracy, hope it’s translated into a general election soon and the country can finally be rid of these crooks

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      We do contrition less than the Yanks but it is still possible to move for supplication. If the Greens were to spend the summer during the recess reflecting on their position, their future and what mistakes they had made and asked for forgiveness for doing what they did but that their motives were genuine, it could, just could, be enough to save a few of their seats, enough to be able to rebuild in opposition. And what might convince them is if FG/Labour were to commit to not reversing Green policies thus far implemented – it might give them comfort politically if not personally.

      That way the Government wouldn’t be facing a vote and would not necessarily fall straight away. But it would be a dead man walking.

    • Niall Kehoe says:

      I love the blog Harry, you’re bang on every time. Glory be to the old Magill days in Camden Place

    • dealga says:

      In 2007 I was convinced Fianna Failed saw the writing on the wall for the economy and were willing to let the rainbow in to take the blame for the downturn. But then that craving for power kicked in…

    • Harry says:

      A friend of mine tackled me on my use of the verb ‘to salamander’. My friend thought I had meant to used another strange little verb ‘ to salami’. Now I thought Salamander referred to an ancient battle but I can’t find any reference to it. The only reference is to the amphibian creature of the same name.
      Where I first heard it. I was driving through South Galway in the winter about 12 or 13 years ago. Galway were playing against Waterford in the National League and the Deises had racked up something like 1-8 in the first half without Galway even raising a white flag.
      I stopped in a shop to buy something and the shopkeper, a man in his 60s, was also listening to the match..
      His only comment on Galway: “They are being salamandered entirely”.
      I loved it. Borrowed it. Have used it since. But maybe it’s nothing more than a makey-uppy word.
      Enough of the etymology, I hear the man from Bohola say.

    • Harry says:

      Thanks Niall. It’s nine years ago since I edited Magill before getting the order of the boot – an occupational hazard for those who went to Magill. Great to hear from you and hope you are keeping well.

    • Aengus says:

      I think it was probably the Battle of Salamanca –

      How come Sean Kelly’s surplus of 10,180 generated 10,180 transfers? Were non of them non-transferable? That seems very unlikely.

    • Peter says:


      he was probably referring to the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC, where the allied Greek city-states smashed a much larger Persian navy by convincing Xerxes to send his fleet after Thermistocles’ into the straits of Salamis. Also of relevance is that Xerxes positioned his throne on Mount Aigaleos, where he witnessed the carnage.

    • Suzy says:

      I look forward to discussing your confession regarding twitter over a coffee sometime :) We might discuss a penance of sorts! Or some other lingo you could learn! GE09 or 10 is not far away!

    • Harry says:

      Thanks for the erudite comments. We will be discussing the role of Latin in Irish education next. On Twitter, yes, I admit it was great for up-to-date informaton and snippets during the count. I wonder will I find it so invaluable when it becomes more humdrum?

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      Harry, twitter is good for some things but next to useless for others. It is for the moment mostly a broadcast format though the likes of the liveblog showed it can be somewhat like overhearing all the chat in a public place at once. And when that is not one but multiple dispersed public places that is good. But for promoting conversation and exchange amongst people and considered rather than me-first responses, it’s plain awful.


    • John Harvey says:

      Aengus, as long as there are 10,180 transferable votes, they’ll be used. The transferred surplus isn’t a random selection – you count where the next preferences are and allocate them in the correct ratio, using non-transferable votes only if there aren’t enough transferables. Then you take a random selection to decide which votes will physically go on the table.

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