Politics »

  • Labour to campaign in prose?

    November 29, 2010 @ 10:50 am | by Mary Minihan

    Labour activists braved the weekend snow to hear Eamon Gilmore dampen down expectations of what the party could actually achieve if propelled into government come springtime.

    They say politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose, but Gilmore delivered a speech, the tone of which put me in mind of Obama’s low-key acceptance address, warning party canvassers to make no promises on the doorsteps during the election campaign.

    I went along to the Chartered Accountants HQ on Pearse Street in Dublin at 10am on Saturday morning expecting Gilmore to deliver a message about making bondholders share pain (which he did) but I ended up tweeting his other points. (If you would be interested in following me on Twitter, I’m @minihanmary and I promise not to bore you with the mundane details of my private life!)

    Basically, Gilmore stated that the election campaign will be a most unusual one in the history of Irish politics. “It simply will not be credible for politicians to tour the country promising to reverse every cut or to deliver every local project,” he said.

    “If Labour comes into Government in the spring, we will not be able to press a button and rewind the 2011 budget. No more than we can reverse any of the past 13 Fianna Fail budgets, or the blanket bank guarantee or Nama.” He described these decisions taken by Government as “irreversible”, as well as “wrong”.

    He continued: “Yes, there may be things that we can change. But the only promise that Labour can effectively male, and stand by, is that we will work, might and mane, every single day, to get people back to work, and to get this country back on its feet.”

    What is his message here? Perhaps he is attempting to silence critics who accuse him of populism. Or maybe he is anticipating that Fianna Fail will soon shift into opposition mode (if it hasn’t done so already) and spend the entire campaign criticising what Labour in power would do? It could be he is genuinely concerned his canvassing teams haven’t yet absorbed the notion that, as he put it, “the politics of promises is over”.

    Whatever the message, Gilmore seems to be ruling out high-flown rhetoric from here on in. Campaigning in prose anyone?

    (My news report on the speech in today’s newspaper is here: http://bit.ly/f8ilG5)

  • Sudden Times in Stranorlar

    November 27, 2010 @ 12:15 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Sinn Fein has received a great boost with its byelection win in Donegal South-West. The other parties are correspondingly deflated: tough business, this politics. Donegal is a great Fianna Fail stronghold. The party had 51% in the last general election. Now it is gone down to 21% but the line was that, under the circumstances, this wasn’t too bad. (more…)

  • New Think-Tank Launched

    November 24, 2010 @ 6:35 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    A new centre-right think-tank, the National Alliance, has proposed its own four-year economic plan to €12 billion without reducing welfare rates or raising the tax burden. The group is opposed to the Croke Park agreement on public sector pay and reform.


  • The Hills of Donegal

    November 21, 2010 @ 3:59 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The Donegal South-West byelection is on Thursday next. It has been relegated from the main headlines because of the bailout crisis and the impending four-year plan but it is important nevertheless for the survival of this government and the passing of the  Budget. The unpopularity of the  Government must be weighed against the fact that FF had two quotas here in 2007. Pearse Doherty of Sinn Fein is likely to get a very high first preference vote but will doubtless need transfers to get him over the line. Another point is that if the Labour candidate gets ahead of Fine Gael it  could cause trouble in the main opposition party. A piece I did which appeared in last Saturday’s paper examines the issues.


  • The Bailout that Dare not speak its name

    November 17, 2010 @ 12:17 pm | by Harry McGee

    Brian Cowen was at it again in the Dail this morning, taking issue with the opposition for using the word ‘bailout’, saying it was a pejorative term. (more…)

  • “Donegal is going to puncture a lot of theories about opinion polls”

    November 15, 2010 @ 11:03 am | by Mary Minihan

    Minister of State for Labour Affairs Dara Calleary, recently appointed Fianna Fail’s deputy campaign manager in the Donegal South-West byelection, says he thinks the contest will “puncture a lot of theories about opinion polls”.

    Asked why he was selected to assist Minister for Social Protection Eamon O Cuiv with Fianna Fail Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill’s campaign in Donegal South-West, Calleary says: “Geography. I know the area, I know the organisation”. Fianna Fail is “blessed” with its organisation “up there”, he adds. “There’d be a bit of passion in Fianna Fail about this campaign.”

    The party convention that took place in Glenties recently wasn’t “stage managed”, Calleary insists. “To get 500 people out on the worst weather night of the year for a convention where there is no contest, so it wasn’t a case they were whipped out.”

    Calleary describes Taoiseach Brian Cowen as a “passionate” person. He speaks about knowing “the real Brian Cowen” as distinct from the Taoiseach as portrayed by “the media”. There is a “style issue”, he concedes, “but give me substance any day”. An Ard Fheis, “probably in the spring time”, will “rally the troops”.

    He says Cowen should be given credit for promoting young people. A first-time deputy, 37-year-old Calleary said: “There’s three of us from the class of ’07 in Government. There’s [Ministers of State] Aine Brady and Sean Connick and myself. And that didn’t happen before. Newer people are getting a chance to serve.” He also cites the appointment of James Carroll to the Seanad last year at the age of 26.

    He says an “Ogra generation” of people of “ten or 11 people” he got to know through his involvement with the Fianna Fail youth organisation now serves in the Dáil, mentioning Meath East TD Thomas Byrne (33) and Cork North-West deputy Michael Moynihan (42) by name.

    He has sent a strong message to secretaries general that they must not use the possibility of a change of Government to delay implementing the Croke Park deal, which you can read about here: http://bit.ly/an0CDk

    Calleary and Beverley Flynn are the two Fianna Fail TDs in Mayo, where Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny heads up what Calleary calls “the strongest Fine Gael organisation in the country” in the five-seat constituency.

    “We’re obviously under a bit of pressure there because Enda’s there as leader of the Opposition. You’ve got Michael Ring, an unbelievable worker; you’ve John O’Mahony, who has all sorts of other attractions…in terms of the GAA,” he says.

    “So you’re up against that. But I’m confident we’ll have a good election.” His relationship with Beverley Flynn is “pretty good” and “constructive”, and they work together on projects. “I don’t have time to be bothering about baggage.”

    Labour will run former Independent Dr Jerry Cowley in the constituency. O Cuiv recently predicted Dr Cowley would return to the Dail.

    Calleary studied business and politics at Trinity College Dublin and worked for Chambers Ireland for 8 years. When he was younger he worked summers in a gift shop his mother managed, and also “did the usual teenagers jobs, worked in hotels, that kind of thing”.

    His father Seán Calleary was a TD from 1973 until 1992 and his grandfather Phelim Calleary was a deputy between 1952 and 1969. Both of them retired. “Hopefully I get to do the same,” Calleary says.

  • Observe the sons of Fianna Fáil marching towards Donegal…

    November 10, 2010 @ 11:08 am | by Mary Minihan

    Tanaiste Mary Coughlan insisted Fine Gael voters would not transfer to Sinn Fein in parts of Donegal South-West in the upcoming by-election, sources at a Fianna Fail meeting on Tuesday night confirmed.

    At the well-attended meeting, TDs and Senators responded enthusiastically to an appeal for assistance ‘on the ground’ with the campaign of Fianna Fail Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill. (more…)

  • Time to Get Real on Drugs

    November 9, 2010 @ 10:40 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Great to hear journalist Ed Vulliamy suggesting it was time to extend the idea of ethical behaviour from activities such as air travel or the purchase of clothing to the sphere to drug usage. He has a new book called Amexica, about the US-Mexican border, where horrific misdeeds are being perpetrated by the drug gangs. This is the other side of the coin to the middle-class coke-sniffers at their house parties. He also pours scorn on the idea of legalising hard drugs. To listen, click here. Vulliamy is also highly-critical of the US “war on drugs”: click here.

  • Going to Extremes

    @ 10:29 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Are we entering a period where fundamentalists will hold the world to ransom as with the Tea Party in the US and the settler movement in Israel? Click here.

  • Honesty in Politics

    November 8, 2010 @ 11:57 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Minister of State Conor Lenihan is getting it in the neck for conceding that FF could well lose the Donegal by-election. “Another gaffe, etc.” But wasn’t he just being honest?


  • Everybody’s Talking

    @ 11:52 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Everybody’s talking about Enda Kenny’s interview on RTE’s This Week programme  yesterday. If you missed it, click here.

  • Slow off the mark on Donegal South-West

    November 4, 2010 @ 12:04 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    You can run but you cannot hide. That was the subtext of yesterday’s dramatic events in relation to the holding of the Donegal South West byelection. It is fair to say that the judgment of the High Court came as a surprise to most observers. (more…)

  • Ireland’s response: indolence or insurrection?

    November 3, 2010 @ 10:30 am | by Harry McGee

    What was fascinating about Louise Minihan’s brazen, hollw and  self-serving stunt against Mary Harney earlier this week was the infrequency of the impolite protest.


  • Jim McDaid’s resignation

    November 2, 2010 @ 11:26 am | by Harry McGee

    Jim McDaid has been semi-detached from Fianna Fail for a long time. All resignations are surprising but given McDaid’s idiosyncratic reputation as a politician, some resignations are less surprising than others. When I heard the news this morning, the facial movement was an eyebrow arching upwards rather than a jaw dropping floorwards. (more…)

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