Hello to the Mayo Advertiser readers.
Well, school’s out and the Dáil and Seanad are shut. This should be bucket and spade time for everyone; however there is a lot of paddling under the water to be done before the beginning of September. For the political parties, planning, manoeuvring and strategic thinking will continue.
It might be useful at this stage to give a résumé of where the mainstream political parties are standing with regard to their conventions. There are 40 constituencies in total and the number of candidates from mainstream parties who have come through conventions to-date is as follows:
Fine Gael 22
Fianna Fáil 26
Sinn Féin 37
So on the basis of that, Sinn Féin look the best organised, but as I say, a lot of work will go on at party HQs between now and the end of August.
Meanwhile, the gender quota matter is continuing to cause trouble. Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are now realising that their numbers of women candidates are falling short and there is an all-out effort to either find women candidates or to add on women candidates.
A good example of this is in Kildare. Fiona O’Loughlin, who last year was the chairperson of Kildare County Council, ran the sitting TD, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, very close at the convention and there is consideration to adding her on. But it is a three-seater and that would pose its own difficulties. Siobhán Ambrose has been added on to Tipperary (a five-seater ) to join Jackie Cahill, already selected, and Michael Smith has also been added on. Recently Jennifer Murnane O’Connor has been added on to the election ticket in Carlow/Kilkenny for Fianna Fáil.
However the conundrum that is Dún Laoghaire remains. Cormac Devlin is deemed to be the frontrunner with regard to candidate selection and in an internal poll in Fianna Fáil is clearly outvoting Mary Hanafin, Jennifer Cuffe and Kate Feeney.
Let’s not forget the new kids on the block – ie the Social Democrats, Róisín Shortall, Stephen Donnelly and Catherine Murphy. This trio was to be a quartet; however for some reason, Senator Katherine Zappone didn’t join up on opening day.
These three candidates are without a doubt among the most formidable parliamentarians I have seen in a long time. Put together they would form a great team but I feel they have left their announcement and their formation very late in the day.
After all, Shane Ross and his team are already established politicians. Equally so Lucinda Creighton and her Renua Ireland.
Lucinda and her team have been working away quietly and have now gathered together a very good group of people who stand a good chance of winning seats in the next General Election.
Apart from the incumbents, Lucinda Creighton, Paul Bradford, Terence Flanagan and Billy Timmins who are well established, she has also assembled a formidable group of candidates who could well be winners come the election. Wisely, Renua have targeted areas with people who are well known and where there is a chance of a seat. They are as follows:
John Leahy in Offaly
Patrick McKee in Carlow/Kilkenny (who polled well in the by-election )
The well-established James Charity in Galway West
Jonathan Irwin in Kildare whose Jack and Jill Foundation has done so much good work for very ill children
Cllr Michael O’Dowd in Louth (brother of Niall O’Dowd and Fergus O’Dowd )
Shane Dunphy in Wexford
Mailo Power in Waterford
I understand there are a few more yet to be unfolded.
I am off to Portmagee in Valentia Island during the last week of August to host a coffee morning and promote the cause of the Fianna Fáil candidate for Waterville, Cllr Norma Moriarty.
I will be looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones. For many years Enda and I holidayed in Valentia Island/Portmagee and I am always happy at the memory of what good times we had there together so I am looking forward to that visit. I have also been invited to host a coffee morning for Jack Chambers in Dublin West and Jim O’Callaghan in Dublin Bay.
So all around the country, lots of things are happening in all of the parties in anticipation of the General Election.
Now back to that as a theme, I am still holding fast to the idea that the election date will be February/March 2016. The wily Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, will know that the people will want to feel the benefits of whatever is in the October budget in their pockets before they go to the polls and that will not be possible until the New Year.
Lastly, as an addendum to all of the above. I have to say that both Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern performed very well at the recent Oireachtas Banking Committee. They had straightforward tales to tell and they told them well.
In my mind I think this chamber may be one where reputations could be redeemed. This is just my opinion and I know there will be hundreds reading this who won’t agree with me. We are all entitled to our individual ideas.
Next week, roll on Enda Kenny, Richard Bruton, Pat Rabbitte, and Joan Burton.
P.S. Next week we will give politics a break and let’s talk about books – books, glorious books.