Miriam Lord’s Political Awards for 2014
See how Joan Burton, Enda Kenny, Gerry Adams, Micheál Martin and Mary Lou McDonald performed this year
Sinn Féiner of the Year: Party leader Gerry Adams for holding onto his position for 31 years. Photograph: Alan Betson
Heather Humphreys: Gets an ‘Arts from Elbow’ award. Picture Nick Bradshaw
Phil Hogan: Mé féiner of the Year. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Politician of the yearCatherine Murphy
Mick Wallace and Clare Daly showed that hard work and perseverance can pay off in politics.
The duo’s refusal to be sidetracked on the issue of the Garda whistleblowers led to eventual vindication for the gardaí concerned and landed Wallace and Daly an impressive haul of political scalps, including the minister for justice and the Garda commissioner.
Daly has also been a fearless and passionate advocate for the thousands of Irish women who have to travel abroad every year for abortions.
But the award goes to Frances Fitzgerald, who succeeded Shatter in Justice and immediately brought an unfamiliar calm to the troubled department.
Since her appointment, Fitzgerald has proved a safe pair of hands in a calamity-prone administration and is an assured media performer. It is no surprise that her name has crept into discussions on the future leadership of Fine Gael, with some saying she could be the compromise candidate between alpha males Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar.
But the award goes to FF’s Ned O’Sullivan for alerting the nation to the terror lurking in our city skies: seagulls losing the run of themselves.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is still standing. Not only that, but his party is improving in the opinion polls, and Micheál emerged as the most popular party leader in the most recent ones. Not a bad showing for a man who is trying to marshal a small parliamentary party shot through with sulkers and sideline snipers.
Micheál’s Dáil performances have improved and he is coping with the Taoiseach’s constant harping about the last, disastrous Fianna Fáil government.
But that’s some big albatross to have around his neck if he wants to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of old Fianna Fáil.
He has delivered on a new regime of payments and dealt with almost all the complaints about Irish Water which saw voters take to the streets in protest.
Unlike his predecessor, Phil Hogan, one suspects Kelly has no problem “micromanaging”. When homeless man Jonathan Corrie died sleeping in a doorway across the road from Leinster House, he pledged to take action on the homeless crisis.
And it seems he has.
Even some Labour colleagues who are not that enamoured of his robust style are making approving noises.
Tammy Wynette (Stand by
Your Man)Enda Kenny
The smiling Sinn Féin deputy leader stood by her man as revelations emerged about how sex offenders within the movement were banished across the Border to spare the organisation embarrassment. No matter what sordid little details dripped from this disturbing episode, Mary Lou’s belief in her party leader never wavered, and her dispiriting response was always: “I believe Gerry.”
Most desirable political gift
Brawn of Boyle Award
Where in the world?
And the winner is former Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, who was dropped from the Cabinet in July’s reshuffle but Enda cushioned the blow by making him Minister of State for the Diaspora. Lots of nice foreign travel there.
Never said a truer word
Right enough, it’s not exactly Charisma Central in the FF parliamentary party. Éamon Ó Cuív, anyone?
Now that’s what I call gratitude
Enda can’t remember the events leading up to Callinan’s “retirement”. The Taoiseach has appointed a retired Supreme Court judge to buy him time – sorry, investigate the unprecedented circumstances he so conveniently forgets.
Niall Fennelly reports in spring.
Bet Enda can’t wait.
Sinn Féiner of the yearGerry AdamsThe Irish Times
féiner of the year
Politics as usual award
Independent TD Stephen Donnelly resigned from the committee. Never mind, Stephen. With the ECB refusing to turn up, bankers hiding behind lawyers, and the first witness declaring the inquiry won’t find anything new, you won’t miss much.