The perfect running mate

No doubt all you political junkies who tune into these pages weekly have seen the very successful series on TG 4 called The Running Mate — all sitting politicians have a variety known as the perfect one. They exist to keep the incumbent in and their selection and placement on the ticket involved some very skillful old style convention rigging. From what Insider understands, picking a fool to run with you is a sport that's about to be made extinct.

In the past Fianna Fail conventions have had a number of sitting councillors conspiring together to select the "Perfect Running Mate" Mr /MsPRM for short. Sometimes sitting TDs fearing the selection of a quality candidate who might unseat them at the next general election would also lend their delegates to the black art of finding Mr PRM.

This time throughout the county but especially in the city there will be no conventions and therefore the perfect running mate could become extinct. Mount Street is very wise to these age-old tricks and is looking to stamp out mediocrity and maximise the seats.

King Eamo was believed to have been a victim of this fadó fadó at a local election convention in Connemara. Since his elevation to high office many have tried to claim the credit for that great Machiavellian act but rumour has it that he fell at the hands of the greatest proponent of selecting the PRM, none other than "Frankeen".

The little "ff" is the man who produced a couple of real gems in Galway City the last time out. If you have ever wondered why Michael Crowe had to run as an independent then look at the list of unsuccessful FF candidates in the North and East ward last time for the clues.

The key to selecting the PRM is to organise the whole thing and then completely deny involvement, in political terms it is the equivalent of leaving no fingerprints on the murder weapon.

Perfect Running Mate will be head of the Pioneers and keyholder to the hall

The PRM is easily spotted and has been found in this county almost exclusively in the male variety. The male of the species tend to have held certain esteemed positions, head of the Pioneers, a big IFA man, former chair of the GAA club, keyholder to the hall, water carrier to the three in row team, Junior B captain, head of the Vintners' in a two pub village, water scheme chairman and so on. Inevitably his wife resembles "Hyacinth Bucket" from Keeping up Appearances. The PRM has a beer belly, a wayward son, and difficulty with BO although that goes largely unnoticed at the convention.

In the weeks preceding the unfurling of the new running mate the sitting TD and a chorus of councillors will announce that the town or parish nearby needs a councillor. An ex-county footballer’s name will be mentioned until they have to publicly deny any interest in politics.

Coupled with this will come a rumour that John O dropped him from the '98 panel because the family were so loyal to Fianna Fail. Next the local Tidy Towns chairman's name will be mooted, then a possible parachute moving back from college in Dublin and finally, in the week before the convention, miraculously the perfect running mate will be unveiled.

Sitting councillors will trip over themselves to phone Keith Finnegan in praise of this great find. In fact the measure of how poor he will be is the number of sitting politicians from both sides that say he's a great candidate. Everyone will know that he can't be elected except for the primed delegates at convention and his loving family.

Although we have no conventions this time, the sitting councillors are working to find new ways to unfurl a couple of these. Look at all the talk of Bearna needing a candidate, then there's the talk of Oranmore and Claregalway.

When all else fails the old reliable is to get previously elected councillors who were beaten on the last occasion and there are more than one or two of those showing their heads right now.

I don't envy HQ, they have come up with a new selection method but the old hunt for the PRM is on and who knows what gems we will get.



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