A plethora of political parties

Hello to all the Advertiser readers in Athlone, Mayo, and Galway.

I am going to write today on the plethora of political parties that have been presented to us of late and try to make sense of the situation. This is in direct reply to comments which have been made to me – could I try to give a written understanding of all that is going on in the various political minds. Each day reveals a fresh new party about to begin.

Now, it is a genuine crossword with very difficult clues and no hope at all of an eventual right answer. However here goes the patchwork.

The four biggest parties in the Dáil, ie Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour, and Sinn Féin remain more or less the same. I have spoken about defections from many of these parties over the past number of weeks.

Then we had the emergence of the first cuckoo in the nest ie Renua Ireland led by Lucinda Creighton.

In fact both Lucinda Creighton and I were backbenchers in our respective Parties from 2007/11 and served on a committee together.

I had great hopes for Renua Ireland when the party was first launched but they seem to have faltered in their ongoing momentum.

Last weekend they issued the first eight candidates which have been approved for running in the next General Election. Lucinda Creighton, Billy Timmins, Terence Flanagan, John Leahy (Ferbane/Offaly ), Mailo Power (Waterford ), Jonathan Irwin (Kildare South ), Ronan McMahon (Dublin South West ), Shane Dunphy (Wexford ). The next batch to be followed here will contain the names of Senator Paul Bradford, Michael O’Dowd (Louth ), James Charity (Galway West – a likely seat-getter ) and Patrick McKee, the young man who ran in Carlow-Kilkenny. I expect more to follow.

Reflecting on that it seems that Lucinda is moving forward in a measured path and perhaps that path is the best way for her to travel right now.

Next up is the announcement by a grouping in Dáil/Seanad Éireann. Presently they are composed of Stephen Donnelly, Catherine Murphy, Róisín Shorthall, and Senator Katherine Zappone. These are strong characters who aim to form a party so we await their name with interest.

They are a reformative bunch with strong individual personalities with a proven record and clear centre left agenda. Left on social issues, centre right on economic issues. Will they be joined by Senator Averil Power (ex-FF )?

This grouping has as yet no name. However, it has thrown a spanner in the works of various other groupings who are trying to come together and yet maintain their Independent status. This isn’t a realistic prospect.

Let’s look at the other participants. People Before Profit, Joan Collins, Richard Boyd Barrett. They also go under the label of Anti-Austerity. Ruth Coppinger, Joe Higgins, and Paul Murphy, who are Socialist candidates, but also have the label of Anti-Austerity and particularly on the water issue. Joe Higgins has announced he will not be running in the next General Election and his place will be filled by Ruth Coppinger.

Then there is the Technical Group, which in the main is headed up by Finian McGrath, who frequently asks the Dáil questions on their behalf. They contain strong people like Clare Daly and Mick Wallace.

Then there is the larger grouping of Shane Ross/Michael Fitzmaurice. These are groups of Independents who have met with Independent councillors and have tested the waters therein. They have stated firmly they do not wish to form a party but to stay as a grouping of Independents.

Then there is a little-known grouping called the Irish Democratic Party, who have put forward two candidates for the next General Election – Ken Smullen of Offaly (retired Garda ) and Mark Keogh. They have a loose umbrella of Anti-Austerity.

All of these names form part of the crossword clues but of course unlike real crosswords, there is no ideal solution which is laid out. But there will be plenty of movement between these groupings over the months ahead. It is definitely interesting and exciting.

Now I have spoken directly to some of the names which I have listed above, some by telephone, some person to person, and I am convinced that there is still an amount of underground movement going on between the various personnel and indeed a continuous reaching out towards one another. So it remains to be seen what the final outcome will be.

Look, they all mean well and we will watch progress.

A spot of good news emerged for Fianna Fáil during the week with the announcement by Ger Brennan of Dublin GAA that he has joined the party. He is a teacher in Dublin. I met him once at a seminar and we joined forces on a teaching issue. So I guess we will hear more of Ger.

We will return to this theme as matters advance – in the meantime, all the above will keep the digestive juices moving along.

Mary O’Rourke

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