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Elected politicians who were members of other political parties… April 17, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

…we all know the old game of spot the former member of the Workers’ Party in the Dáil. It’s amazing when one thinks about it how many there actually are. But that got me wondering as to what about other parties. Are there any examples of members of Ogra FF who wound up on the FG benches, or vice versa, or even more unusual journeys. And if not, why not?

And what of local level, there was the occasional former PD who made journeys from Labour or to Labour or wherever. But again, what of other parties?

A new collection in the Irish Left Archive – non-electoral Political Posters April 16, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Politics.
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Some may have noticed this at the weekend, but Left Archive co-curator Aonghus Storey has set up a section of the Left Archive which will focus on Political Posters. Bar two items (held on to for sentimental reasons!) there is no intention to cover election posters, Alan’s Irish Election Literature site covers that side of things.

But there is plenty of scope for left oriented non-election posters – whether campaigns or promotional. Some of the most striking visuals appear in that form, as noted on the ILA often they’re the only point of contact between small groups and the general public. And finally they’re part and parcel of the Irish left.

So, if you have photographs of non-electoral left posters please forward them to the Archive for inclusion in that collection. All contributions gratefully accepted.

Hard to keep up April 16, 2014

Posted by doctorfive in Irish Politics.
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May Day DCTU march April 16, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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Byelections… April 15, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

The SBP’s Last Post column a week or so back made a point I hadn’t thought about. That is that there are potentially five or six by-elections on the way on foot of the European Elections and the need to replace TDs in Dublin West and Longford Westmeath. Although it seems likely that the coalition will push them as far into the future the SBP asks:

Will the government run them on the one day?

The answer being… ‘That could be a suicide mission. It’s hard for governments to win by-elections. What if it lost them all?

And I think that rings true, that that would be taken – rightly or wrongly – as a mini-referendum on the government itself in a way that the Local and European elections simply aren’t.

Which means that ‘the only way is to hold them in dribs and drabs’ and that likely ‘two on polling day in May’.

And yet I heard only this week that there were plans to run them on the same day. Hard to believe they’d do that, but if it came to pass, well now, that would be interesting.

Republicanism and a new Ireland… April 15, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.

…intriguing piece from Newton Emerson in the Sunday Times this weekend (which links in with discussions over the weekend on the CLR). In it he discusses the McGuinness attendance at a royal function in Britain during President Higgins visit there. And his belief is that to see that event, his attendance, as directed essentially at a Southern political audience is incorrect – indeed he goes further and argues that ‘it is too trivial to be a full explanation. How much of a factor could McGuinness’s non-attendance at a banquet possibly be at polling booths six weeks from now? He holds no office in Dublin and few southern voters pay NI any attention’.

He also notes that the interaction at the level of the monarchy is of such a nature that it actually undermines political unionism, at least – and I paraphrase – in the sense that it makes exclusion of republicans that much more difficult if the Queen and the monarchy are willing to engage.

And consequently he argues that the gesture was aimed at Unionists ‘with SF gain[ing] kudos among its own supporters by showing such apparent generosity, especially when comparable unionist generosity is lacking. But how much kudos does it seriously expect to gain among unionists? The party’s focus on royal symbolism suggests it hopes to go past unionist politicians with a direct message to unionist people.’

That’s is a not unpersuasive argument, though how accurate it is is difficult to determine. But more interesting by far was the following which I had previously missed in relation to what that message aimed at unionist people might be.

At its Uniting Ireland Conference in Dublin in 2011, Adams called for ‘discussion with unionists about what they mean by Britishness and how a new Ireland, whether or not it is a Republic, can accommodate this’.

What sort of new Ireland is this that is being envisaged here, one that may not – it would appear – from the choice of the language even be a Republic?

Indeed in the speech Adams is explicit:

Our belief is that the interests of citizens and society on this island will be best served by a republican system of governance based on the rights of people.

But that is a matter for the people to decide.

There are other models which can be considered, including federal arrangements.
They could serve transitional measures or as governmental systems in their own right.

Emerson suggests that ‘SF needs a plausible end point for its goal [a part of which is government participation in both parts of the island], at which republicans are satisfied, unionists are mollified and British-Irish relations can, finally, be absolutely normal… the only scenario in which Ireland would not be a republic would be admission to the Commonwealth under the crown’.

Far-fetched, surely, and perhaps stirring it up too. But…

I’m reminded in a way of the way in which the Scottish Nationalist Party has approached the issue of independence, a process which has seen them acquiesce to formal aspects of the British monarchy. Now, frankly, I think that’s a non-starter in the context of this state, but, it is just possible that a shared dispensation affecting the North both politically, perhaps in terms of continued representation at Westminster (perhaps in the Lords), and simultaneously new representation in the Dáil or a new all-island entity, might be a realisable intermediate/long term goal.

The Complimentary Poster April 15, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.

This Mary Fitzpatrick Poster was the subject of previous posts here and here.
Seems Labour Youth have added an additional poster to complement the original.
Via @CHealy_ on Twitter



Thinking about the Just Society… April 14, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

… Fine Gael’s 1960s document, which I have had reason to do in recent weeks and which you’ll find in the Left Archive here, here’s a piece from crooked timber from 2006. What I find fascinating about it is the optimism it seems to express as regards a social democratic wing of Fine Gael (and that the Just Society somehow was the foundational text of such a wing), and perhaps due to the lack of manifestation of same in any functional sense (it surely is reaching when someone in comments – in fairness not the author – regards Richard Bruton as belonging to it – I’d have put him as being anything but a social democrat) a hope that the Labour party would keep FG honest on economic issues.

And yet, you know, if one looks at FG and the LP as being in some respects not quite two distinct parties but one – I’m not sure how I’d characterise it, ‘tendency’ perhaps, with a relatively broad (in Irish terms) political spread across two parties doesn’t that tend to make sense? After all, time and again in governing terms they’ve only been able to operate in tandem (bar that brief two or so year period when the LP went into government with FF). Of course that’s a simplification, the cultures of the two parties are quite different as are their respective bases, but it’s not entirely without some descriptive power as regards the dynamics in play.

By the way, on a tangent, Paddy Matthews, and I’m presuming this is the same PM not unknown here, makes a very interesting point in the following as regards student politics and indeed our multi-seat constituencies:

One of the advantages of Ireland’s often-maligned electoral system is that it requires candidates to put themselves up in competition before the ordinary voter, not only with rival parties but with rival candidates within their own party. It’s not possible to worm yourself into an invulnerable position on a party list, or to persuade a cabal of old codgers on a party committee to give you a safe seat for life. Politicians have to work to appeal to the non-aligned electorate, and for better or worse, that puts ideologues at a disadvantage.

Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I think the set of skills required for the intrigue and back-stabbing of student and youth-wing politics don’t translate well into the set of skills required to appeal to the non-aligned public. I can think of one individual in a neighbouring county to my own who is a big fish in Young Fine Gael (and was at least peripherally associated with the Freedom Institute) and who seems to have big ambitions in national politics. He certainly manages to insert himself into enough photographs in the local weekly paper and to get them to publish his profound press statements on the issues of the day.

I think he’s right about the skill sets applicable in student and national politics. But like him I’m now convinced that mult-seat PRSTV is a pretty good way to organise matters political and for much the same reasons. My suspicion of list systems has diminished not at all in the last few decades.

Alive again… April 13, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

These from a recent edition of that illustrious journal manage to combine and perhaps confuse a range of issues (thanks to the person who sent on the paper copy). Check it out.



To be honest I think any serious appraisal of the Labour legislative programme would be more likely to come to the conclusion that if only they spent more time on social issues it would prevent them pushing through retrograde economic legislation it would actually be better from the perspective of workers. And I find it hard to believe that somehow one comment and a very small amount of social legislation somehow provides much of a diversion from their alignment with the orthodoxy.

As to the rest of the left, where has Kenny et al been? The concentration in campaigns etc has been overwhelmingly on economic matters – and broadly speaking correctly so. Sure, there’s been a number of times when the issue of abortion and marriage equality have come to the fore – and again entirely correctly so – but they’re not the primary focus of left activity.

Indeed all this is actually testament to how obsessed Kenny et al are on these topics. Now it would be one thing if they actually agreed with left economic programmes, but as we know bar a number of honourable exceptions that’s not actually the case at all, and social conservatives tend to economic conservatism in the main.

By the by, given the support of the Tories in Britain for marriage equality – at least at formal and functional level, how does that align with Kenny’s thesis? Have they lost their raison d’etre?

Should Adams and McGuinness retire? April 12, 2014

Posted by Tomboktu in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, The North.

Norman Tebbit’s remark during the week — the he hoped Martin McGuinness would be shot in the back — prompted a thought. Should McGuinness and Gerry Adams consider retiring from activie politics at this stage? They are the only leaders to have remained in place as leaders from the start of the peace process through the signing of the Belfast Agreement, and the first years of the operation of the Assembly and Executive. Tebbit’s comment show that despite the huge changes they led Sinn Fein and the IRA through, they are still lightning rods for hatred and distrust. Would it be better for the stability of the process and politics in the North if they were to hand over the rein of Sinn Fein to a new generation?


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