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After Gregory: Dublin Central and other matters… January 13, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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The Irish Independent had an interesting (words you won’t read here every day), and broadly correct, article yesterday about the arrangements at the funeral of Tony Gregory under the somewhat incorrect heading ‘No seats for elite at my funeral, Gregory ordered’. Quite naturally he restricted the numbers of the great and the good and – as noted here previously – had the first six rows reserved for canvassers and active supporters. Only three others were given places, the President, the Taoiseach and the Lord Mayor. After that, however exalted, you took your chances on getting a seat in the body of the Church. That this appears unusual to the Independent perhaps tells us more than we might wish to know about the way this society is going. But, the article more broadly indicates that the by-election has started. It suggests that the date of the contest will be the same day as the local and European elections.

So, since normal politics resumes perhaps it is time to consider the by-election and the identity and disposition of the forces preparing to engage.

A long time ago I overheard Tony say to someone that one of the mistakes people and the media make about Dublin Central is to believe that because it has/had two national profile candidates that somehow made it ripe for candidates from outside the constituency to be elected. His point was that the national profile was largely coincidental and that it remained – despite the demographic changes across the decades – a very local constituency indeed. And there’s something to that.

Mary Lou McDonald fought a doughty campaign last time out and yet it didn’t catch fire. Patricia McKenna a less comprehensive one which seemed to fade out well before the end. I’m not suggesting that these were ‘celebrity’ candidates, but I am suggesting that not being from the constituency was problematic for them. I believe that this will be less of a problem for McDonald at the by-election and less again the next time out after that. Indeed my sense would be that if she is willing to think long-term she has a seat and most likely within the decade. That’s a tough one. Christy Burke tried again and again without success, not least because one T. Gregory happened to be in his way. But Gregory has gone and in the absence of a clear candidate from his sector of the political landscape there is all to play for.

Will there be a “Gregory candidate”? I have no idea. I’m not close enough to the circle where such a decision will be made. I suspect though that yes, there will. It makes sense, both political and personal. If there can be a vindication of Tony’s work it surely must be in the retention of an Independent left seat in Dublin Central. And that requires that a campaign is established and fought. Whether, in the absence of Tony’s most unlikely charisma, the fire that was in previous campaigns can be replicated is a most interesting question. But worth noting that fighting for someone after they have departed can be as energising as when they’re alive.

But the issue of celebrity is an interesting one in other ways. Quite some time back I heard rumours that Tony was willing to have Joe Higgins contest the seat at a byelection. I dismissed them, and still do. Joe is a formidable candidate, and yes, it was he who delivered the oration at the graveside, but contesting Dublin Central would be a tall order. Again it comes back to his links to the constituency. Tony was fortunate in that the Independent left gave him a certain degree of cover as regards his programme. Or to put it another way, people on the left or right or centre could easily enough give him a first preference because although plainly of the left sometimes Tony, by dint of not being a member of a party, appeared not to be in the left. And I remember once asking him how important it was for him that the Starry Plough was on his leaflets. Very, was his response, but he noted that relatively few people knew the meaning of it. A Joe Higgins cadidacy, even blessed by the Gregory organisation, would suffer from that party tag. At least, that’s my sense of it. Which isn’t to say that it wouldn’t be worth doing. Tony and Joe might have had their differences, but they were pretty close and there was no mistaking the real liking each had of the other. And to have Higgins back in the Dáil would be a prize, no mistaking.

A candidate from within the Gregory organisation would be more likely. There are obvious problems with this. Maureen O’Sullivan proved herself an excellent and measured public performer at the funeral, she was co-opted to Dublin City Council this last year, her profile is increasing. That may be enough, with some judicious work on the ground across the constituency (and as someone who lives in the same general area as her I can testify to her work on the ground already). But it may not. Her campaign to retain the local election seat is already in full swing and I think it’s reasonable to suggest that she will do so. But to ratchet that up to a by-election campaign will be more difficult. It’s not that there aren’t bodies aplenty to canvass – one thing that surprised me when I first encountered Tony’s election operation was just how massive it was with fleets of canvassers at any given time. But name recognition is the thing. None of this is insuperable. She’s already operating from a level many candidates would give their eye teeth for, but it does mean there’s a mountain to be climbed. Can it be done? I’d say on balance it would be very very difficult indeed.

The Irish Independent argues that:

Cllr Maureen O’Sullivan is likely to represent the fractured Gregory camp as it attempts to hold onto the seat.

“Fractured”? In what sense? I haven’t heard any hint that there are problems in it. It is possible that they are getting the wrong end of the stick as regards the divisions on the broader Independent left in the constituency over the past five years or so.

The position of other further left candidates, particularly independent ones, will be crucial. Two independent left candidates running and the seat is lost. It is as simple as that. But that’s the thing. Independence brings a degree of autonomy, and anyone can – often entirely reasonably – justify any actions as being worthwhile. Whether it might be better for people to play a long game, to establish favours given and set up circumstances where favours must be returned later down the line, is an interesting question. If it were me a public show of unity behind an agreed candidate with iron-clad guarantees that at some specified future date the mantle would pass and would be fully supported would make considerable sense. And that’s the sort of approach which a public show of solidarity and unity at the locals would be a sensible token of trust. Or to put it another way, the old WCA axis combined with the Gregory organisation could theoretically deliver two independent left councillors and either provide a strong base for a go at the Dáil seat in 2012 by an agreed candidate, or just barely win the seat this time with an agreed candidate. That might necessitate some serious compromises by those involved on both sides, and some pretty strategic thinking by people in those formations, in other words how best to retain an Independent left seat and then to establish it for the future. A two-stage process in my view, but others might disagree. I don’t know if that’s possible, but it makes political sense.

Much the same holds true for Labour. On paper it’s not beyond them to bring in a second seat in the constituency. This has been a long term strategy, probably more with an eye towards the departure of Ahern than to this specific set of circumstances. Emer Costello is in situ, and has been for years, has a certain profile and with a push could do the job. How well they wrap themselves in the Starry Plough, a somewhat ill fitting garb after years of the Red Rose of social democracy, will perhaps be pivotal. I would certainly rate their chances on paper as being better than those of the Gregory organisation. But only slightly and in part only due to their already having two councillors on the ground.

For Sinn Féin this is one to be thought through pragmatically. It’s hard to credit the Irish Independents idea that:

It appears the Government will hold the by-election for his seat on the same day as the European and local polls in order to wrong-foot MEP Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein.

Look at the first preferences that Sinn Féin got in 2007. Not fertile ground from which to mount a by-election bid. I simply don’t think they can take the seat in a by-election. Lack of transfers will hobble them. Competition for what votes there are will do likewise. But the flag must be flown.

And that leaves Fianna Fáil. They have a vast pool of votes from the Ahern years that they can call on. Their presence at the removal on Tuesday last was such as to leave no doubt that they would squeeze every last drop out of the Gregory legacy that they could in such a way as to make it seem they too were part of it – with no small assist from Ahern’s ‘best friend ever’ routine in the media over the past week or so. And despite the well-known detestation of Tony for that quarter their operation is formidable. Remember, the polls that have Fianna Fáil scraping the floor in Dublin don’t necessarily reflect the reality on the ground in this particular constituency. I would be very surprised if they aren’t in poll position from the start.

But look, it’s difficult at this remove to know how all this will pan out. The day before the last election I had no real feel for how the election would go. I thought Sinn Féin could take a seat, thought it was likely, not least due to their presence in various parts of the constituency. I was very concerned at how Ciaren Perry’s campaign might impact on Tony’s vote. I was even willing to concede that Fianna Fáil could take a third seat on a very good day for them. Look how that worked out. At best we can assess the balance of forces and hope to make some sort of a guess.

So, for my money, despite all the travails of Ahern and Fianna Fáil, this remains Fianna Fáil by-election to lose. Yes, there is a strong case that on a good the Labour Party could take the seat (not least, ironically, because of a growing but still relatively small Fine Gael vote eager to recapture what used to be a seat for them that in all likelihood will transfer to Labour for lack of another home to go to). And it is just possible that a Gregory candidate if positioned with the blessing of the various other smaller left formations in the constituency might just do it on the day. But I’m not hugely optimistic on that score. What is definite is that such a candidate would have to be agreed between the various groups, a solo run by any of them isn’t going to work.

And all that said, I guess I have to admit to looking forward to the interview with Tony to be published in the next edition of Hot Press. The Independent today noted that:

Mr Gregory, in an interview to be published posthumously this week, criticises the former Taoiseach with whom he shared a city constituency for more than a quarter of a century.

But there’ll be more…

Finally, as requested (and somewhat unusually) feel free to use this thread to discuss issues about Gandhi of North Strand. He’s willing to field them. Can I ask, once more, that people keep in mind that even with that willingness on his part it would be better for all of us if this is kept civil and within the laws of libel.

Any other prospective candidates of left parties are welcome to use this facility in the run-up to the local and European elections… don’t all put up your hands at once!

Comments»

1. Dorothy B. - January 13, 2009

Well done WBS ,you promised this thread and you delivered. I’M in work so I will start off by copying and pasting my comments from the other thread. Hope thats ok. They refer to Workers Party candidate Malachy Steenson.

First I would like to express my sympathy to all the friends and comrades of Tony Gregory . While we lost an honest politician and committed activist you all lost so much more.
Secondly, I am disgusted by the cheek of Malachy Steenson (sorry “Gandhi”) who has shamefully turned this into a thread about himself and attempted to rally support for his election bid and the WP ,on the back of Tonys death. This thread started as a very personal , and well observed piece about a sad passing and burial , and has been hijacked and even used to try and recruit canvassers.
I cannot claim to speak for Tony Gregory , but I cannot help but feel that his animosity towards Steenson was not just historical in nature ( ie.Seamus Costello and WP), but would also relate to more recent events .
I did not see the deleted comments that may cause legal problems, and have no desire to repeat them. But it must be said that Malachy Steenson has a lot of baggage that he wishes to ignore. As a candidate he has a duty to be upfront about his activities in the past, and either apolagise ( if he feels he was wrong) or to justify ( if he feels he was correct). Steenson (sorry “Gandhi”) refers above to comments on other forums, were he answers none of the questions about his past , and moderators remove them continously. Seeing as how he has being rallying support here, and looking for canvassers, it would seem appropriate that he would honestly address concerns about prior actions.
For example: During the community anti drugs campaign of the 1990’s did he, or did he not, provide legal advice to drug pushers that the community were marching against ?
While a member of A.C.R.A. in recent years, he was not actually a member of any residents or tenants group . His involvement with a residents group (chairperson) ended when the residents of the community , having felt for years he was not representing them called an extraordinary AGM to be rid of him ( and his associates). At that time the only political support he got was from Royston Brady (FF).If this is not factual, could Malachy explain his lack of involvement in his own local area , and tell why the group he was involved with disappeared ?
Is it true that concerns were raised about financial matters at this time ? To give one instance: a construction company working across the North Inner City had given money to community groups as a goodwill gesture due to disruption it caused. When a local group looked for funding for a project, they were told money had already been paid over. It had been given to Steensons “community”group, and had never been publically acknowledged. Did these events lead to residents calling a meeting to demand answers ? Was a reasonable explanation ever given ?

These are not personal attacks. If somebody wants to use a forum to electioneer and recruit then there must be an obligation to re-assure people of what they are buying into. One shouldn’t be prepared to sing their own praises, trail on anothers coat tails and then cry foul when faced with questions about their own past, and their own integrity.
I feel uncomfortable posing these questions on a forum that was dedicated to the passing of a man as significant as Tony Gregory. But I feel that the shameless hijacking by a political chameleon cannot be ignored. If Steenson thinks that he can somehow follow in Tony’s Gregorys footsteps, maybe he can start by showing a bit of the honesty and straight talking that HE was renowened for.

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2. Ghandi of North Strand - January 13, 2009

Thanks WBS for setting this up, I am also in work, and have a number of meetings tonight, which I must prepare the minutes for and also motions in relation to GAZA, economy etc. Hopefully I will get to set out some replies today, if not tomorrow at the latest.

Perhaps you could also transfer all the relevant comments from the other thread.

As you will not that Ghandi is the author of these comments and its dissapointing that Dorothy B seeks to identify him without identifying herself, a bit of honesty all round perhaps?

Also if you wish to send me any comments which you believe are potentially libelous by email I will attempt to deal with them in that way.

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3. Ker - January 13, 2009

Right so, well. Ahhm Can I ask about the contents of WBS’ post rather than any particular candidate.

WBS,

Am stunned but not surprised to hear that FF would be in pole position. I am reminded of the quote from the godfather “just when I thought I was out they pulled me back in”. I only hope that they do not.

On the issue of the SF candidate do you think SF will go for Burke with Mary Lou continuing to run. Where does that tie in with a possible general election. Would they be able to run Burke and then credibly switch to Mary Lou if a Gen. Elect. was called.

Tough call to make no doubt about it.

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4. Joe - January 13, 2009

I don’t agree that FF would be favourites. The fact that they are in govt would be usually enough to ensure a swing against. In the current climate and based on recent polls, surely their vote would be considerably down. So I would say it’s between Lab, FG and a Gregory Independent. And in by-elections, it can all be down to Springtide-like swings e.g. the independent candidate (Catherine ?) who won in Kildare a few years back.
So I’m calling it for Maureen O’Sullivan, Gregory Independent.
Given comments on the previous related thread that WP attitudes to Tony Gregory may have softened a little, wouldn’t it be great if the WP didn’t run a candidate in the by-election and publicly backed the Gregory Independent?

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5. Irish Mark P - January 13, 2009

This was an interesting piece.

I think that the stuff about Joe Higgins standing is not coming from inside the SP or inside the Gregory organisation. It’s just a result of people noticing that Joe and Tony were personally close, both of the left, and that Joe is currently out of the Dail. I don’t think that it’s at all likely, in that it wouldn’t really fit with the SP strategy in Fingal or with the Gregory organisation’s local focus.

Labour are, unfortunately, the best placed party in the by-election. They have a sitting councillor in place with suitable dynastic links. Not a left wing bone in her body, of course, but she has a well known name, Labour are in opposition and they got a substantial vote last time around.

I think that it will be tough for an independent left candidate in a by-election, but even a strong losing performance would put one in a good position for the next general election.

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6. Ker - January 13, 2009

or it would allow alot of publicity for any leftist candidate running for council elections.

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7. Dorothy B. - January 13, 2009

Interesting way to join this thread Gandhi – say you’ll reply to the issues raised, and then take a sly but irrelevant dig at the one raising the issues. You will make a great politician.

Seriously though, I am reluctant to take the bait at what could be an attempt to go off on a wild tangent, but it needs a reply.
I did not attempt to identify you. I did not realise there was any secret here. In the sidetracked Tony Gregory obituary thread you ( Gandhi) said you attended the funeral representing the Workers Party. Other media reported that a Malachy Steenson attended, representing the Workers Party. Logic suggests that Mr. Gandhi and Mr.Steenson are one in the same. (Please don’t tell me there is another split I don’t know about). If you have a problem with your dual identity being exposed take it up with Madam, or Sir Anthony O’Reilly.Other issues referred to in the first person (by Gandhi) were also clearly Mr. Steenson , so in my mind there was no big mystery.

I respect the right of anybody to post on a discussion under any name they choose, be that a pseudonym, real name, or initials. Stating what the B. in my surname stands for would serve no purpose and is an irrelevant dig by you. I am not well known, I am not prominent in any party, and I am not a candidate in any election whatsoever.
You however are well known, a spokesperson for a party and a candidate. The poster known as Gandhi has made it obvious in posts who they actually are. As a candidate, and somebody using this board to promote your party, and to try and recruit election workers I don’t see what the big deal is.

So can we have a little less of the sidetracking and a bit of honesty on the serious issues raised? After all, we don’t want to start calling you “Bertie of the North Strand”.

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8. Leveller on the Liffey - January 13, 2009

I think WBS might well be right in that it’s Fianna Fáil’s to lose because Bertie’s big battalions are still there to return whoever the annointed one is. Remember: there’s no Bertie in the field but there’s still the Bertie vote and machine. Methinks it could all be in the hands of The Most Cunning, the Most Devious of Them All.

That’s why it’s all the more important that the opposition gets its act together to make as good a show as possible.

BTW: I think WBS inadvertently omitted FG’s Paschal Donohoe from the field – nice guy, shame about the party and the politics.

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9. Leveller on the Liffey - January 13, 2009

I take that back about not mentioning FG. It was.

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10. WorldbyStorm - January 13, 2009

I’d echo what you say Leveller that the opposition must get its act together. I’d also absolutely agree that it’s not inevitably an FF gain. But I’m just suggesting that at this point they appear to me (and it’s entirely a subjective opinion) to be in a stronger overall position than anyone else. Now, they – like SF – may suffer from lack of transfers. But perhaps that will be the outworking of a good strong left campaign from whatever source.

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11. sonofstan - January 13, 2009

If the by- election is held on the same day as the locals and the euros, all sorts of imponderables come into play; firstly, can MLM run for both the Euro Parliament and the Dail on the same day? and even assuming she can, will it not look a bit dodgy to the electorate?. Secondly, with regard to the FF vote – people traditionally use Locals and Euro elections to punish the govt. and this lot have much to be punished for. It’ll be interesting to see if the historically low figures for FF in the last opinion polls are replicated. I suggested at the time of those polls that possibly party loyalty to the two main parties had diminished over the last decade, but that in FFs case, this was masked by the Bertie effect; without a leader from Dublin, they may still be massacred in the city.

That said, as Gregory rightly put it, Dublin Central is a very local place – though paradoxically, with possibly one of the largest immigrant cohorts in the state – and the Bertie machine, in an odd way, was semi-detached from the national party; part of his ability (like Thatch) to present himself as an outsider.

Another strange local factor might be this; anger at FF is obviously centred around the economic and property meltdown – but in an odd way, as the poorest constituency in the country, DC is slightly immunised – there aren’t that many recent home buyers here, and rents are going down – and with social welfare payments having risen at above the level of inflation for a few years, those on long term benefits are still slightly cushioned – I’m not suggesting, of course, that the poor are coasting it, but for those whose boat wasn’t lifted by the ‘rising tide’, there is at least no awful fear of a precipitous crash in ones situation looming – though obviously, unskilled and semi-skilled jobs are being lost just as fast and faster as other kinds.

I guess what I’m suggesting is, that even if FF get wiped out elsewhere, the by-election vote might hold up a little better here – thanks to a combination of the residual Bertie effect, the strength of the local organisation, and the particular economic profile of the place. I still think Labour have a real chance, because they can pick up transfers from places that SF – and probably a Gregory candidate – won’t; notably FG.

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12. Leveller on the Liffey - January 14, 2009

Perhaps FF will get its vote out in enough numbers – behind one candidate, remember – to face down the best challenger, whoever that may be and whatever public anger there may be.

And will Labour be distinctive enough, backing Lisbon 2 on the same day?

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13. WorldbyStorm - January 14, 2009

That’s a very interesting point re Lisbon. Hadn’t struck me before you made it.

I think SoS that’s pretty much what I think. But I hope its proven wrong.

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14. Wednesday - January 14, 2009

can MLM run for both the Euro Parliament and the Dail on the same day?

Legally it appears that she can. Politically is another question.

anger at FF is obviously centred around the economic and property meltdown – but in an odd way, as the poorest constituency in the country, DC is slightly immunised – there aren’t that many recent home buyers here, and rents are going down – and with social welfare payments having risen at above the level of inflation for a few years, those on long term benefits are still slightly cushioned

Due to other commitments I haven’t been out in the constituency lately, since October i.e. budget time, but at that time I saw no sign whatsoever that the mood in DC (or at least my part of it, the North Inner City) was any more favourable to FF than anywhere else. There mightn’t be the same proportion of new homeowners there but the people there still have to send their children to schools whose budgets are being slashed, they still have elderly relatives (or are elderly themselves) worried about their medical cards – and the Government’s last minute cave-in on that did nothing to quell the anger about its original intention. They’re probably more vulnerable than a lot of constituencies to the collapse in the construction industry because now what are all their young men going to do. And the continuing failure to meet social housing targets hits harder here than it does in a lot of other places. If there’s a “cushion” in the North Inner City it’s certainly not one I would like to sit on.

Having said that – you’re probably right that FF are still in with a shout, for a couple other reasons. First is the Bertie factor – he still walks on water as far as a lot of people here are concerned. His camp will probably go around telling people that the recent problems are all due to poor Bertie being hounded out of his job and that sure the new regime are making a hames of things, but if they just help the “Bertie candidate” get in they’ll be able to bring some sense back to the leadership …

And second, this is probably the most clientelist constituency in the country and there is no one more capable of benefiting from our voters’ stunning ability to ignore party affiliation and vote strictly on a parish pump basis than Fianna Fáil.

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15. Wednesday - January 14, 2009

And will Labour be distinctive enough, backing Lisbon 2 on the same day?

That’s if they run Lisbon 2 on the same day. I think they may well decide that’s far too risky.

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16. Leveller on the Liffey - January 14, 2009

Wednesday, I accept a lot of what you say but, as you also point out, Bertie still walks on water (even with crutches) and somehow (another miracle by him) a lot of people I know don’t associate him with FF and all that’s gone on over the past 20 years or so. It’s like there’s Bertie… and then there’s FF. And there’s still a loyal vote for both against a divided opposition.

Re Lisbon 2 vote day: you’re right, of course. I forgot it’s now flagged for October – but could bureaucrats resist the argument against the expense of two separate pollings days? (Answer: Yes, if it suits FF.)

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17. Dan Sullivan - January 14, 2009

I would rate FG’s chance somewhat better than the post appears to but I would recognise that Labour or a Gregory Independent would be favour more to gather transfers from the non-FF pool. It all comes down to candidate selection, the problem for Labour is that Emer if she runs has to be doing it to takeover Joe’s seat else it is too easily painted as nepotism (unfairly but since when has fairness anything to do with perception) and would play into FF’s hands most. And their most high profile councillor Aodhan has only just up sticks to Clontarf, he could come back for this, but that would kill stone dead his council chances in Clontarf.

Who FF pick will be interesting, if Mary Fitzpatrick will the Ahern/Brady side of things really put the shoulder to the wheel? Or would they use it as a chance to crush her in advance of the next GE so that Cyprian becomes the true inheritor of Ahern? Of all the candidates Mary Fitz is the one who can most credibly run in two elections at once as she would be running in the same geographic place.

Mary Lou is caught by the dual election quandary too and I suspect is more likely to plump for the Euro race, but that would be her finished in DC as she couldn’t run there in the next GE having sat out the by-election and that would be the end of her being a minister or future leader of the party. Yet she could surprise us all. Running in both is not an option as it would virtually hand the European seat to Labour as they can paint her as not being committed to it.

The big problem is what is the nature of Bertie’s and FF’s vote and where is it likely to go. I suspect the core FF vote is not even 50% of Bertie’s poll numbers and so while I can easily see the FF candidate topping the poll, it would be on less than 25%. After than I think we would see SF, FG,Lab and Independent Gregory quite tightly clustered on between 15% and 20% with the Greens and CSP on a few % a piece. Depending on who the actual candidates are will go the order of elimination, and for the moment the only certain candidate is Pascal Donohue. If that persists for several months then it could give him the % edge he needs to benefit from transfers from Labour (if he were to outpoll them) such he could overhaul the FF candidate who might then see him home. If Lab are already gone will FF transfers really favour SF or Independent Gregory? By-elections are strange fish indeed.

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18. Ghandi of North Strand - January 14, 2009

Before I deal with the questions posed by Dorothy B., I feel the following points need to be made, Dorothy B claims in post number 7 that she did not attempt to identify me, surely putting a name in and them putting the pseudonym in brackets is a real attempt to identify me.

The fact that Malachy Steenson represented the Workers Party at the funeral as reported by the National Media is irrelevant to the identity of Ghandi. Dorothy B claims that she respect the right of anyone to post under any name they want, clearly that does not apply to Ghandi.

The entire reason for using pseudonym’s is to allow the debate to flow in non personal way without statements being attributable to the individual, it would seem to me that on most forums regardless of whether everyone knows the identity of the poster they have the courtesy of not divulging it. It is also clear that these same questions are regularly posed by the same people any time I post a comment on a web site. It seems taht an agenda is being pursued by some, who should at least have the honesty to identify themselves.

You also claim on post 1 that you did not see the deleted comments but you have no desire to repeat them, how can you repeat something you have not seen?

Now to deal with the questions you raised.

1. I did not provide legal advice to drug pushers, in fact at that point in the mid 90’s I had no professional legal qualifications and worked in the retail area in different shops around the city. I assume you are referring in general to the vigilante movement which arose from the anti drugs movement in the mid 90’s.

I will set out the position as it arose the first move by the Provisional Movement to take over the Anti drugs movement was at a meeting in the Macushla in or around early 96 or late 95, that was a meeting called as part of the demands for methadone detox’s, after I spoke at that meeting, of about 1,000 approx I was frog marched from the building by 2 DB PIRA vols., outside the proceedings were watched over by the head of PIRA Southern Command, I asked him what they were at, and he told me in no uncertain terms that they were taking over and we could F… off, he remarked that “we need something to keep these young lads busy during the Peace Process”.

My position on drugs has always been clear and consistent, and he has no time for drug dealers full stop, and had no problem with dealers being dealt with. I initially went on a few of the marches until it became apparent that the only targets were junkie dealers, the marches were by passing the doors of major dealers. Of course as many people now realise the reason they were not marched on was because they were funding the Provisionals.

At one point two flats were marched on in Ballybough House one lived in by my step daughter and another that of her friends, the justification for these marches was that my sister in law and brother in law occasionally visited, both were strung out, and both are now dead from overdoses. What had escaped the marchers notice was that her friend came from a Provisional family, and the next day senior figures arrived at her flat to apologise, saying that she was targeted because of her friend who in turn was targeted because of her connection to me.

Another incident arose in relation to Fats Reilly, I had no problem with Reilly being dealt with, however I could not stand by whilst drunken mobs stoned the bedroom of the flat were young children were sleeping. Such was the annoyance of the Provisionals with this interference that they attempted to capture me in the flats and “deal” with me. The analysis put forward by me at the time has been shown to be correct.

ACRA

The Association of Combined Residents Associations (ACRA) is the national representative body of residents associations. It is an entirely voluntary body, who derives its funding from a small contribution from its members associations and some revenue from its magazine advertisements. It was established in the 1940’s and has achieved some success over the years.

It is not a requirement to be a member of a Residents Association in order to be a member of ACRA, I would suggest that it is often better that one is not, ACRA deals with issues on a national level. I was asked by the National Executive to come back as an Office, having previously been a delegate and a member of the National Executive. I took on the role of Honorary General Secretary and have attempted to raise the profile of ACRA, and set out policies. ACRA has taken a member of positions in recent times including opposition to Lisbon, key positions on the economic situation and support for the people of Gaza. ACRA intends to be to the fore in resistance to any attempts by the government to put a property tax on people’s homes.

I will deal with the issue of North Strand Residents Association in a later post, as I need to check some dates.

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19. sonofstan - January 14, 2009

Wednesday,
I guess you’re right – I’m probably overstating what is merely a marginal difference between DC and elsewhere. I was trying to point out that the cohort of ‘upper’ working class voters that David McWilliams probably has a catchy name for, and on whom FF have depended for all of this decade – the one’s who bought in the outer suburbs, or commuter towns, with both working to pay a high mortgage, and who may suffer the biggest proportional drop in living standards over the next few years – are underrepresented here.

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20. Leveller on the Liffey - January 14, 2009

“Their most high profile councillor Aodhan has only just up sticks to Clontarf, he could come back for this, but that would kill stone dead his council chances in Clontarf.”

I think Aodhán has declared for Dublin North Central. He’s gone from Dublin Central.

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21. Paddy Matthews - January 14, 2009

Dan Sullivan:

Running in both is not an option as it would virtually hand the European seat to Labour as they can paint her as not being committed to it.

I’d have thought that Mitchell and de Rossa are reasonably safe at this stage. It would be more likely to be between McDonald and Eoin Ryan for the last seat, with FF’s vote heading south at a rate of knots by all appearances.

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22. Fats Reilly - January 14, 2009

Malachy ,
I identified you before Dorothy and I did so because it was crystal clear who you were while touting for votes on a thread dedicated to remembering Tony Gregory.
Reading thru the bullshit about the “vigilantes” in the anti drugs movement in your reply I have a couple of questions for you. You claim that “the only targets were junkie dealers”. Was your friend Fats Reilly a “junkie dealer”? Like fuck he was! How much heroin was he caught with both times? Drug pushing bastard. Why was the Special Branch protecting him? How come the only people who refer to the anti drugs activists as “vigilantes” are the police, the media, the pushers and YOU?

Yes, Malachy, I have posted these same comments on other websites and will continue to do so. Friends of drug pushers will not be forgotten.

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23. Damian O'Broin - January 14, 2009

I think Dan’s numbers look broadly right. If you take the 04 locals as a basis for party support (no Bertie, Joe or Tony running) you get the following as a benchmark: FF 27%; SF 21%; LAB 19%; FG 12%; Gregory-like independents (I’m including Perry here for the sake of the analysis) 9%. The FF figure is probably pretty core – I think they hit 44% last time with Bertie running. In the by-election it could dip further – how much will determine if they can take the seat. I reckon FG will probably rise a bit and LAB and SF are probably there or thereabouts. If the Gregory camp can get together behind a good candidate, they should do better as well.

Now obviously candidate selection will be a big issue, but on those numbers, you’re looking at a 3-way toss up between FF, LAB and SF, with Labour slight favourites given transfer patterns. Unless the Gregory campaign manages to get a fair wind at their back, which is not impossible.

Who will Bertie, I mean FF, pick? Will it be Mary Fitzpatrick, or will it try to shaft her again be one of the gang? Thinking about it, I wonder will they unite behind Fitzpatrick. It would allow them to play a number of themes – the poor-Mary-shafted-in-07-by-the-big-bad-machine theme; the she’s-not-Bertie-and-therefore-not-really-govt theme; the Bertie-and-Mary-kiss-and-make-up theme …. time will tell.

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24. Dorothy B. - January 15, 2009

I was going to wait for a full reply on all the issues before responding to Gandhi (re.Steenson), but I’ve got a bit of a break now.

You can’t resist the sly but irrelevant dig yet again. I’ll bite. When I read a previous thread I saw that another posters comment about Steenson had been deleted as possible libel, as stated by the moderator. As I was about to make my own comments on Steenson, I hoped they would not be deleted, but couldn’t be sure. Not knowing how others had phrased their comments, I deliberately downplayed mine, especially in relation to your support for drug dealers.

Back to the issue of your identity. Again I stress that I respect anybody’s right to post under whatever name they choose. However, the fact that you were Malachy Steenson was very clear, and I saw no reason not to post on that basis. The fact that you are a spokesperson for a political party, a candidate in an upcoming election ( asking people to vote for you to represent them) and were actively recruiting canvassers (on an obituary thread) I do find it a bit worrying that you stress the need to make statements that would not be personally attributable to you. It is just a personal opinion of course, but I do believe that those seeking political office have to be prepared to accept standards of transparency and open-ness that do not apply to the public at large.

Onto the substantial issues. The first being your involvement with drug dealers. Your reply is revisionism of the highest order. Your portrait of Steenson the Good Samaritan and victim of the Provos is ridiculous. Eoghan Harris might lap it up, but not those who remember your anti community actions. Many in the community based anti drugs movement had family and friends with drug problems and had seen many deaths. That is what motivated them to challenge the States inaction on the crisis, and attempt to tackle the drug dealers that the Gardai were ignoring. Many residents, family members, neighbours etc showed great courage in standing up on this issue, while you choose to stand with the pushers. You were not legally qualified at this time, true, but you did see yourself as a budding legal expert and promoted yourself as such. Your relationship with Brendan Reilly will never be forgotten. Reilly was a heroin pusher who sold death and misery, and was notorious for intimidation and even torture of young addicts who owed him. He recruited youngsters to ferry drugs for him. He was for a long time immune to the Gardai, to the extent that even though he was legally banned from driving he often drove around to ply his trade under their never watchful eyes. He also attempted to kill community activists when he drove at them at high speed on a path in Ballybough. As the Dublin working class was being devastated by drugs this was the best cause you could champion? And there was no other reason for your support? The life of Reilly soured eventually, and his immunity dried up. He eventually went down for a number of heroin seizures. If this hadn’t happened I believe you would still be giving him your blessing instead of whitewashing your role.

The story of the Provos tackling you is pure fantasy. At the time you were associated with Republican Sinn Fein, who were opposed to the Provo ceasefire. But a senior Provo gives you a quick rundown on their ceasefire strategy as they frog march you away in front of a thousand people? Due to the lack of camera phones in the 90’s we will just have to take your word on that one. Any animosity anti drug activists had for you was due to your support for pushers, and not part of any lone voice crusade against evil republican godfathers.

Your political evolution of the mid 1990’s Steenson to the 2009 version is interesting. Your “blame the provos for everything” revisionism and your actions against anti drug campaigns sits nicely with the Workers Party image, but what about the politically conservative and militarist R.S.F. and the flirtation with the Catholic right pro life movement?

I will comment on the ACRA section in conjunction with the anticipated North Strand issue.

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25. Ghandi of North Strand - January 15, 2009

I became Chairman of North Strand Residents Association in the early 90’s, at that time the association was about to fold up. The Chairman at that time asked me (no pleaded with me) to see if something could be done. I reluctantly agreed to accept a nomination, other members of the committee agree to them go forward and give it one last shot, we were then elected. The total funds of the association at that time amounted to a couple of hundred pounds. At that time it was difficult to get people to pay into the association on a regular basis, so it was decided to abandon that form of funding, until things were built up, all of the street reps were then co-opted onto the committee.

The Association made progress and ran summer projects, old folks parties, and Halloween parties along side the usual work of the association. These were run at no cost to members and were funded by local business.

The issue in relation to the construction company money was, contractors for Bord Gais were laying a pipeline down Leinster Avenue. In or around February 1999
we approached them and sought a contribution towards the funding of a summer project, they subsequently agreed to give us €5k (I am doing this from memory so the dates are general dates), we organised the project to begin in mid July, to run for 2 weeks and accommodate 60 children and the cost was €8,000, and was run by volunteers. Despite chasing the contractors we still did not receive anything, though we had in our newsletter stated that the funds were promised. On the Friday before the project was to start, in fact I was about to leave the house to go to a friends wedding, a representative of the contractors arrived with the cheque. The cheque was immediately lodged in the association’s bank account.

Whilst I was at the wedding I received a phone call from the contractors asking were was the cheque, I told them that I had lodged it, he informed me that he had been contacted by Tony Gregory and told to stop the cheque. The cheque then bounced, we had to initiate legal proceedings in order to get it back, which we eventually did. The project went ahead after a local businessman lent us the money.

Another group then formed itself calling itself “Leinster Avenue Action Group”, this was supported by Gregory and Burke, Costello initially supported it but met us and them withdrew. Brady supported the association, which had been in existence for 25 year at that time. Gregory & Burke refused to meet us and indeed our association had no dealings with either over the years. A former chairman of NSRA who had also been an officer of ACRA initially chaired the new grouping. Following a meeting organised by ACRA this individual saw what was happening and withdrew. Of this committee who then claimed to be NSRA, 3 of them were associated with PSF, which they denied, and 2 of them are regularly seen canvassing for PSF.

The belief of this group was that as the pipeline went past their homes and they were disrupted that they should receive the money personally, as individuals they subsequently took civil claims for disruption and received various sums of money. The same grouping succeed later in obtaining around €1.5m from Iarnroad Eireann in relation to the new bridge on east Wall Road.

I willdeal with the AGM and other contributions in the next post

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26. Ghandi of North Strand - January 15, 2009

One of the ambitions for many years for the association was to have its own premises, instead of meeting in peoples front rooms, they had had a place on North Strand many years ago, which was taken over by the Larkin Unemployed Group, who then moved across the road and the association was eventually frozen out.

A suitable premises came up on Stoney Road, which was rented fro a trial period, we received €10k from The Financial Services Trust Fund which was used towards setting the place up. The place was fitted out with five computers and desks etc. Between these costs, insurance and the rent which was around €120 per week the €10k was well used up. A senior citizens group operated in the morning, after schools project in the afternoon and a teenage club in the evenings. These were all staffed on a voluntary basis by local residents, I tried to be there most mornings.

Interesting one of the first callers was from the City Council Planning Dept., (in the first week of opening) telling us to close down, having been advised by the Leinster Avenue Group that we had no planning permission. We told him it was a trial project and that we had no intention of closing down, and if it was successful then we would deal with planning. This project lasted for the year and was discontinued because of the dissension caused by the other group.

Separately we had applied to the Department of Social Welfare for funding for monitored phones and lock etc., for old folks. We gat a grant of 60% around £35k, we then installed 90 monitored phones costing £400 each ( I think it was still £ at the time), along with security lights, door viewers, chains etc., again all of the installation was done at no cost to the senior citizens, and by local residents voluntarily. We raised the rest through raffles and other fundraising. These funds were accounted for the DSW.

AGM’s had been held in the middle of every year with the exception of ’99 when it was held in the December. The reality was that many of those who took part in the new grouping never attended any AGM’s or meetings previously nor had they any interest in the community previously. That is not to say that there were not some individuals who were well intentioned but misled. Indeed some whom had contributed hugely along with their families to the development of NSRA, and whom I despite the strains and friction had the utmost respect for. If there is one thing I regret in that period it was the falling out with that particular individual, however I had attempted, to mend those bridges during her illness and before she passed away.

All of these issues were set out and addressed in the newsletter circulated by the association on a regular basis, so had anbody any issues why did they not raise tham at the time, rather than go off and create their own group, it was clear to us that another agenda was afoot. In fact since NSRA went, the other group have changed their name three times, there have been no summer projects, no halloween parties no christmas parties for the old folks.

I think I have now set out responses to the questions raised by Dorothy B. She asked that I should justify or apologise, for my actions, I would say that I don’t claim to have all the answers, and I have been as honest in my responses as I can, whether people believe me or not is a matter for them.

In response to her post of earlier today.

Fats Reilly certainly is not nor ever was a friend of mine, I have set out in the previous post my involvement in that part particular issue involving him. Reilly had no illusions about where I would have left him given the opportunity.

In relation to the Machusla incident, those who were there know what happened. I had been involved in anti drugs work for many years prior to that period, long before many of those who emerged as spokesmen. My position on drugs and dealers is well known and I am totally opposed to all drug dealing and that has been my constant position. My involvement in the drugs battle began when I saw the devastation which my extended family suffered from it and I have continued to work away in my own way to deal with the issue.

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27. Dan Sullivan - January 15, 2009

Paddy, the reason I would rate De Rossa as being more vulnerable than Ryan or Mitchell is that (a) he has no running mate this time and those who voted for Ivana might be inclined to go with MLM (b) even with FF themselves bombing in polls all over the place when it comes to an election a portion of those who say they won’t vote FF will still come out and to it (c) MLM will attract transfers from whoever the Libertas candidate is while De Rossa won’t and it would seem from the analysis of the Lisbon results that many working class areas of west Dublin voted heavily against Lisbon.

If they desert De Rossa for Libertas or SF then they won’t come back to De Rossa in enough numbers to save him from the No to Lisbon camp. What is in his favour is that the Greens may well bomb compared to 2004, De Burca just doesn’t strike me as the kind to light anyone’s fire. So some soft left leaning middle class voters who did vote Green in 2004 might just give De Rossa twirl this time. I think Ryan will come in on 18% if a solo candidate but I think the other candidates may be that bit too fractured to overhaul both him and De Rossa (16%).

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28. dilettante - January 17, 2009

Anyone got any thoughts on the decision of Mary Lou not to run?
Got to help her in the Europeans?

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29. WorldbyStorm - January 17, 2009

Has she definitely said she won’t, sorry I haven’t checked the news this morning.

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30. dilettante - January 17, 2009
31. Leveller on the Liffey - February 1, 2009

Interesting story in Saturday’s Indo, “Higgins ‘unable’ to grant Gregory’s deathbed wish”. Senan Molony writes (and Joe Higgins confirms the story):

FORMER Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins has decided against granting the dying wish of Tony Gregory by contesting the Dublin Central by-election.
Cancer-stricken Mr Gregory asked Mr Higgins, who was the scourge of the last Dail with his one-liner quips, to replace him in this Dail as “the people’s representative” for Dublin’s north inner city.
But Mr Higgins is running in the Dublin constituency in the European elections this June.
And as the date of those elections will likely coincide with the by-election to fill Mr Gregory’s seat he said he had reluctantly decided to concentrate on Europe.
“That is true, that he did ask me on his deathbed,” Mr Higgins said yesterday. “I haven’t said that to a single soul, so you must have very good sources.”

Would Joe have considered running if he wasn’t in the Euros?

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32. crocodile - February 1, 2009

Leaving TG out of it altogether – I didn’t know him like some people who write here – I’d personally rather have Higgins in Kildare St than in Brussels.

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33. Garibaldy - February 1, 2009

No chance of Higgins getting the Euro seat, so this is an interesting choice on his part. I would guess – and it’s only a guess – that his feeling is that he has a base in one area, and oughtn’t to jump from it, and that it would be better for his organisation to continue to build with him there than maybe have him represent an area where he would be closer to an independent than a party rep.

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34. Joe - February 2, 2009

I wouldn’t say no chance, Gari. I’d say an outside chance for him to get the Euro seat. The Euros are sort of referenda on govt performance so a good campaign could see Higgins in with a shout.
Like Croc I’d prefer to see him in the Dáil though.
If true this story shows that Tony Gregory didn’t see an obvious candidate from within his own supporters. Or more likely that he calculated that Joe Higgins could take the seat, whereas a candidate from among his own supporters could struggle.
I’d foresee difficulties though if Higgins went for it. He is not an independent but very much an SP man. So the old Gregory group could find themselves outside the tent if Higgins got the seat.
And I would say finally that the decision would have been the SP’s rather than Higgins’ – cos he’s a loyal party man.

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35. Garibaldy - February 2, 2009

Three seater Joe? One FF and one FG automatically. The remaining seat between De Rossa, and Mc Donald I would say, and overwhelmingly likely to go to De Rossa. Higgins is starting so far behind I just can’t see him getting anywhere close. I suspect the campaign is aimed at him keeping his profile up for the next Dáil election, which makes perfect sense.

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36. Joe - February 2, 2009

Capitalism collapsing, Gari. FF seat might be in trouble. De Rossa could be seen as around too long and people might plump instead for Higgins. But him getting elected would probably be the SP’s worst nightmare. Enough. Let’s wait for the campaign.

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37. Leveller on the Liffey - February 3, 2009

Joe, why would Higgins getting a Euro seat “probably be the SP’s worst nightmare”?
Surely it would give him more media opportunities to push the party line.

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38. Joe - February 3, 2009

Leveller, what I’m getting at is that being an MEP removes a person from the grassroots. The SP like any good socialist party would want its best operators on the ground locally. Higgins gets elected to Brussels and the SP’s energy is dissipated. Their focus is messed around.
I believe it happened to a degree with the WP and De Rossa way back when.
Hopefully the difference this time would be that Higgins’ head wouldn’t be turned by being on the “bigger” stage.

Slightly similar situation currently with SF and Mary Lou. She gets the odd media soundbite and gets to be on big delegations with Gerry et al but her base on the ground in Dublin Central is weakened.

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39. Dublin Central… that by-election « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - February 6, 2009

[…] I don’t think that Joe was unreasonable in deciding the way he did. As has been discussed on this thread he is very much a party man and that party – whether one supports it or not – has a clear strategic […]

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