Hello to everyone post-Christmas 2015 as we face into the new year.
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Let me confess straight away that I do not make any. Why? Well, I will tell you why.
Years ago I always made resolutions on January 1 and gradually I never kept them or I fell off the straight path pretty quickly early in the new year. So I decided the best way to deal with all of that was not to make any resolutions.
This does not mean that everyone who makes them is wrong, quite the opposite in fact. I admire people who make them and keep them. If your character is like that, that is fine. Good luck to you and good luck with your high notions of what you will do or will not do in the new year.
Anyway, at my age I am entitled, I think, to decide that I am not making any resolutions for 2016. I do always decide I will be nicer to people, but somehow that does not come off all the time either. So, there you have it.
A left-over story from 2015 is the story of John Perry, the current Sligo/Leitrim TD. When I was writing last week the court case was still live, so I refrained from commenting on it. Now that it has been settled I can do so freely. It was a most amazing story and a costly one at that. Whoever is to bear the cost is not quite clear.
John Perry took a case to the High Court against his own party, Fine Gael, because he was not included on the ticket for the new Sligo/Leitrim/South-Donegal/East-Cavan Constituency. He based it on the fact that he said Enda Kenny proclaimed that no sitting Fine Gael TD would be off the party ticket for the next General Election.
There were five days of submissions in the High Court from various persons involved in the Fine Gael party. It was stated that the party had decided to settle with John Perry and that he would be added to the already declared ticket for this new enlarged constituency.
I expect that John Perry will win his seat in the next election. After all, voters will say well, he was fit to take on his own party and to challenge the high and mighty there. He will surely be fit to fight our battles for us too, so I expect that to be the likely outcome.
We are told the General Election will be on Friday, February 26. I was on the Claire Byrne Show on the Saturday before Christmas. It was then that Michael O’Regan declared this to be the date. I see in the Sunday Independent of December 27 that Enda Kenny said the date was to be February 25. What is a day anyway? It is going to be that Thursday or that Friday.
By the way, I am still amused and amazed that Frank Flannery continues to be called the previous strategist for Fine Gael, when in fact I am quite sure he is the ever-present everyday strategist to Enda Kenny and Fine Gael. There is nothing wrong with that. He is a very wily man for Enda Kenny to have as his advisor.
He always seems to strike the right note. I am sure he was behind the ameliorative move to settle with John Perry before it all got out of hand. Frank Flannery has the knack of being in the in right place or saying the right thing just when it was needed. Often a political party needs someone big like that to, at times, dictate and advise, but above all to be there for them when the going gets rough.
So that means that as I write this column there are less than eight weeks to voting day for the electorate. At the moment all looks rosy for the current Government with the polls up and the budget bonus yet to be felt in the pockets of people, which will happen throughout January and cumulatively at the end of that month just when the voters are beginning to give serious consideration to where they should place their preferences come the election.
It will be fascinating to see if Fine Gael can muster enough votes to govern on their own, but I would hazard a guess that they will again need some Labour votes even though the total number might be diminished.
After all, the combined parties had a massive majority in the last Dáil and both can well afford some losses and still rule the day. I am committing the fatal political flaw of counting chickens before they are hatched. Each elector has a mind and a voice of his or her own.
As you know, I have often spoken here about how unreliable polls can be. Look what happened in the UK when nobody dreamed that Cameron and the Tories could get an overall majority as the polls had predicted it could not, should not happen and would not happen, and yet it did happen.
Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin will each be hoping for gains. Then there are the permutations of various independent groups: the Shane Ross group, the Anti Austerity group, People Before Profit, the Renua Party, and the Social Democrats. All have yielded some good candidates so they will get seats, but will they get them in the amount which they had previously hoped to obtain? I think not. As I said last week, as the Election approaches people will decide if they want the party they know rather than a stepping into the unknown.
There will be a lot of political looking-forward in early 2016. We will have Vincent Browne back on the box. We will have the customary weekly opinion polls. Above all, we will have the Leader’s Election Debates. They are often mind-changing and vote-changing in their impact on the viewers.
Do not be taken in by promises galore which often evaporate once the Election is over. We had enough of that in the old days and, after all, where did it get us all – nowhere. Make up your own mind and vote accordingly.
Happy 2016 to all of the Advertiser readers in Athlone and Westmeath. May health and happiness be yours in the months ahead.
Slán go Fóill,