GUBU. Grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, and unprecedented. That’s how a period of turmoil involving Charlie Haughey was defined in the 1980s. It does not come close to describing events since Christmas.
The once mighty Fianna Fáil is standing on the abyss of mainly self-inflicted destruction, the Taoiseach elect (yes Enda, that’s you! ) is afraid to be seen on TV or heard on radio, for fear of answering questions. Labour and Sinn Fein cannot answer the same questions on their economic policies, meanwhile in the real world people are struggling with cuts in their income and higher taxes while watching the next generation leaving the country in increasing numbers. One would be tempted to put a plague on all their houses.
But don’t. The next four weeks is your four weeks. Your chance to have your say about Ireland and Mayo. Your chance to question those who wield and wish to wield the levers of power in Ireland. Your chance to rise above the media noise and to take charge of your country. Your vote is your chance, make sure to make the most of it.
The national spotlight will shine on Mayo like never before. Enda Kenny will be the next taoiseach barring some unbelievable political disaster (then again given the past few weeks that could happen! ). The strategy in recent weeks has been to hide him - that cannot last for an election. He has to come out of hiding and defend himself. We want the real Enda back, not the dummy Enda that the backroom boys in FG HQ have created over the past few years. We want Enda the fighter, the Islandeady footballer who took no prisoners - he is fighting for Ireland now, he cannot hold back.
And what about Dara Calleary. A first term TD, now a junior minister and being seriously touted for the leadership of Fianna Fáil. A tough media performer (watch Miriam and himself taking lumps out of each other on Prime Time last week via the RTÉ website ) and if he is returned he will be a serious player in Fianna Fáil nationally.
He needs to be careful though - Fianna Fáil’s decline in Mayo has been the steepest of them all - he may be another victim if they do not get their electoral act together.
The return of Jerry Cowley to front line politics is interesting. I think he was foolish to run with Labour - he would have been stronger as an independent. If Michael Kilcoyne does not run, do not rule Cowley out - if Kilcoyne does run, it will not be a surprise if he is elected.
Sinn Féin has made a major mistake in excluding Gerry Murray from the ticket but if there is to be a surprise in Mayo, it will come from one of the women. The departure of Beverley Flynn (imagine the first election in 38 years without a Flynn on the ballot paper - changed times indeed ) has released a female vote that is looking for a home. They were not inclined to support Michelle Mulherin the last time, on this occasion I feel that Rose Conway-Walsh will be the beneficiary in particular.
The most important personality in all of this though is you. You’re in charge now. Get to it.