By-election loss a jolt for Fianna Fáil as fully vaccinated prepare to avail of indoor dining

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

I know there are so many issues down for discussion between us this week, not least of which is the European soccer final between Italy and England (more about that later ), but for me, the big issue in the last seven days has been the by-election in Dublin Bay South. Readers will know that I have retained a huge interest in the politics of this country, and the result last Friday of Thursday’s vote in Dublin Bay South was, for many, a real disaster.

Firstly, I want to say well done to Ivana Bacik, whom I know very well and who went forward under the Labour flag. But of course, while that was technically correct, she was also going under her own flag of Ivana Bacik. I have known her for many years and she is a crusader on so many issues. She went into this election with great gusto, campaigned openly and continuously, and no doubt her demeanour and her past record added greatly to her victory.

For the purposes of this article, I want to emphasise the sense of dismay at the result for Fianna Fáil, which was 4.6 percent. It is difficult to imagine, but in the almost century since the set-up of general elections, it is the very worst result Fianna Fáil has ever received.

There were all sorts of reasons for that candidate’s election: worry about the pandemic, so much unemployment etc etc, but in the end, we are where we are. Of course, the media abound with all of the loud declamations that Micheál Martin must go now. They are so tiresome and constant. I liked very much the email letter that Barry Cowen TD sent out to every TD and Senator, in which he asked for a full summer meeting of all the Fianna Fáil elected representatives where, first of all, we would get from Sean Fleming and his committee the reason for the dismal result in the 2020 General Election. This has been a long time coming, and we eagerly await the result. He has also asked that we discuss in full the whole by-election campaign and the result.

I think that was a very measured response and certainly had the effect, I think, of easing the ill-feelings which many members had entertained since the by-election. I hope that Micheál Martin and the national executive will heed Barry Cowen’s wise advice, and that next month will see that summer meeting which he has asked for and which I think would be welcomed by all of the members.

In the meantime work goes on, in particular the thrust to get vaccinated people, if they wish, into restaurant and pub activity indoors – combined, we hope, with the continuation of fair weather outdoors. This week will be a very busy week for the Dáil, the Seanad and the President, as important legislation is finalised and sent to the President.

I am sure that, like me, you have been watching Covid developments in the UK. I simply cannot understand why Boris Johnson has issued an edict that there is no need to wear masks and no need to keep your distance, it is entirely a personal matter. I think he is simply courting disaster. You can say what you like, but I far prefer our cautious approach to these matters. Boris Johnson has named July 19 ‘Independence Day’ in the UK when they will be free of all strictures and able to come and go as they please. We await developments in that sphere.

Now to the European soccer final, Italy versus England, on Sunday night in Wembley. I had been following the soccer but in a desultory fashion. Of all of the sporting games, it is one that I simply cannot get to grips with. Play on the pitch is so calm and easy compared to any of the GAA games, hurling, camogie and football, or compared to rugby. All of the others are full of gusto and play, whereas in soccer the players seem to be just tipping the ball, in a polite fashion, to one another!

Now call this account what you like; it’s what I think. But of course I tuned in to last week’s semi-final and Sunday night’s final, in the end between England and Italy. Such a long, long match, from 8pm until 11, and apart from the constant roars from the Wembley spectators, it was difficult to pick out highs and lows in the play. Of course, the shootout is almost instant death and there will be endless debates now about who was picked to take the penalty kicks, what went wrong, what went right, etc. But I’m sure the result did not accord with Boris Johnson’s high wishes for ‘Independence Day’.

A couple of days before the match, I was asked at the hairdressers, who was I ‘for’, Italy or England? I had no bother in replying “I’m for England, because they are our nearest neighbours.”

Turning to rugby, what a washout last Saturday night’s game between the USA and Ireland turned out to be. The score was Ireland 71, USA 10. For me, the interest lay in the fact that Luke Carty from Athlone, brother of the famed Jack Carty, was on the team for the USA. So it seems the strong rugby strain runs through the Carty family. How good it was to see him play so well.

The Ireland under 20s had a good match versus Italy. Italy seemed to be winning it until Ireland got re-energised in the second half and the result was Ireland 30, Italy 23.

There is so much else we could be talking about, but space is against me.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, forget ‘Independence Day’ in the UK and concentrate on keeping our health protocols in order here: wear a mask, keep social distance, and avoid all crowds.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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