Pundits and the public alike are in agreement that the coming election will see a historic battle for supremacy between Fine Gael and Labour.
Fianna Fáil has resigned itself to a momentous defeat, and is holding onto only slim hope of avoiding total annihilation. Insider has never seen the electorate so focused, taking political discussion and national decisions so seriously. Local issues and parish pump politics have reached the bottom of the political agenda.
Kenny v Gilmore
In deciding the leadership and hue of the next government, there are only two possible options - Mayo’s Enda Kenny or Galway’s Eamon Gilmore for next taoiseach.
The recent Irish Independent poll puts Labour two percentage points ahead of Fine Gael as the public’s preference – a statistic that is well within the margin of error. However, in the same poll, Eamon Gilmore outshone Enda Kenny by 55 per cent to 29 per cent. That Gilmore is the nation’s choice for taoiseach is without doubt.
People are crying out for something different and there is no doubt that this will be a CHANGE election.
The question that has to be posed is which party can offer that change, not just switching one crowd with another, but changing from a damaged, broken society to a confident, united, one in which people and community are put first and not the paymasters and cronies of a political party.
During the Celtic Tiger boom, it is difficult to imagine that Fine Gael would have done anything differently to Fianna Fáil.
They never condemned the rampant speculation and runaway property markets that destroyed our banking system and international reputation. They watched as young couples were shouldered with massive mortgages (now negative equity ) and defended the market as the only solution to the problem.
They embraced the PD/Fianna Fáil model unapologetically. You need only look to their front bench spokespersons like Leo Varadkar, who still resolutely subscribes to that ideology, and who on top of that sees public services as something to be rid of rather than reformed and made to work for the citizens.
In contrast, Labour’s record is strong. During the boom, the party consistently called for the implementation of the Kenny Report to cap the price of building land. It decried the massive wealth generated by hoarding land which served no productive purpose.
In 2007 the party warned of the impending threat to the economy and always made the case for reducing the gap between the rich and the poor.
It is clear that there is a definite choice to be made in this election. The day of the Independent, holding a government to ransom is over. In fact, given the current electoral advantage of a Fine Gael party with more incumbent seats than the Labour Party, a vote for an Independent is a vote for Enda Kenny for taoiseach, and a vote against Eamon Gilmore.
The local perspective
From a local perspective, Insider feels that voting for Independent candidates such as Dep Noel Grealish or councillor Catherine Connolly will be wasted votes - neither will be able to exercise any power or deliver for Galway and would be better off in county or city chambers.
Bookmaker Paddy Power feels differently and Paddy does his research. Betting in Galway West is as follows:
Éamon Ó Cuív - 1/10
Derek Nolan - 1/4
Fidelma Healy-Eames - 2/7
Noel Grealish - 1/2
Catherine Connolly - 1/2
Frank Fahey - 8/13
Brian Walsh - 8/13
Hildegarde Naughton - 2/1
Michael J Crowe - 7/2
Insiders read of these statistics would lead him to say that Ó Cuív, Healy-Eames and Nolan will be elected with an ensuing dog fight among Grealish, Connolly, Fahey, and Walsh for the last two seats.
Naughton will live to fight another day for Fine Gael , the Crowe project which had no politics but the pure and naked pursuit of power and a seat in Dáil Éireann, sailing under the false banner of Fianna Fáil will be sunk, never to surface again at local or national level.
One would have to assume that Grealish (ex-PD ) and Fahey (Fianna Fáil ) will be feeling the wrath of the public on the doors and will be fearing the loss of their seats but both are primed for the battle of their lives. With Fianna Fáil teetering on the brink of oblivion, Fahey will lose out to Grealish.
The final seat in Galway West is between Cllr Connolly and Cllr Walsh, a battle of far left and centre. Word on the ground from anoraks and journalists is that Cllr Connolly is doing well, yet Insider has not heard her name mentioned once on the canvas.
The feeling among politicians is that Cllr Connolly, despite the help of Derrick Hambleton (An Taisce ), Niall Farrell (Galway Alliance Against War ), Danny Callanan (ex-Sinn Fein ), is about to do an ‘Ó Brolcháin 2007’, will implode on the doorsteps, and only marginally up her vote. Walsh for the fifth seat