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Independents… August 20, 2019

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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I enjoyed the interview with Finian McGrath on the IT politics podcast – he made a strong case for more media coverage of independents, and noted that they cover a spectrum from left to right. He himself clearly sees himself as radical and independent. Though one thing he did not address was one key aspect of almost all independents which is who they are answerable to other than voters (which oddly is rarely aired as an issue – we hear the usual gripes about fracturing and localism, but what about who their reference groups are or the fact many of them are effectively political sole traders with no links to broader groups). Is that going at any point to become an issue. Not likely.

He was particularly scathing of the lack of coverage during the local elections where independents candidates did very well noting that independent councillors or candidates don’t have recourse to party machines, and such like for publicity. Fair dues indeed to him so for being so unstinting in his praise of one independent councillor in his own backyard who was name-checked, by my count, three or four times!

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1. Joe - August 20, 2019

I’m presuming the independent candidate in his area that he name-checked is his man in the area. Can’t remember his name but probably there’s a plan for him to have a go for McGrath’s seat if and when McGrath decides to retire.

On indos generally in and on elections. Ex SF cllr in Ballymun/Finglas, again name escapes me now – I saw a comment from her that she found it sort of liberating to canvass as an indo. (She held her seat easily as an indo after leaving SF in a high-publicity internal row with Dessie Ellis TD and his supporters.) She said something like “At least no doors are being slammed in your face cos you are a member of a party”. Makes a bit of sense doesn’t it? We all have parties we “don’t like”, the minute they come to the door we either send them on their way or don’t listen to them cos they’re from party x or y… but we’re more likely to give an indo a fairer hearing.
Danger of course, and it happens, is that an indo then realizes they can blow every which way the breeze is blowing, be all things to all men and women… and in reality, stand for nothing except getting a seat and doing parish pump work for constituents, trying to look after every request no matter what.
I’ve seen Eilis Ryan of WP (who lost her seat last time as a WP candidate, having won it the time before as an indo) strongly arguing that left indos are not good for the left … that serious leftists should be members of a party, follow a party line, promote party policies and so on. Makes sense really, doesn’t it?

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Daniel Rayner O'Connor - August 20, 2019

Depends on the party line & policies, don’t it, Joe?

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Joe - August 20, 2019

Of course it does. I’m an indo keyboard warrior. No party is good enough for me.

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Liberius - August 20, 2019

Finian McGrath’s minion is called Damien O’Farrell and the ex-SF Cllr. is Noeleen Reilly.

…but we’re more likely to give an indo a fairer hearing.

Some of us not so much, I’m more likely to accuse an indo of being a narcissist, especially the ones who are ex-party as really what’s the point in the long term? I might not agree totally with a political party but I can at least see them potentially bedding in, but with independents the impact is transitory and will wither in time, total narcissism, especially when they could form reasonably coherent parties with each other.

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Joe - August 20, 2019

Thanks Liberius for filling in those blanks.
Good points too.

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2. Jim Monaghan - August 20, 2019

A whinge. The reality is that independents are able to use their power better than backbenchers. Not for genuine change but for their individual version of clientilism and patronage. I am reminded of Rsocommon where one FG stayed loyal to the partyy and has disappeared. A Dail of Healy-Raes, reminds me of the French Third Republic. And I think ( an impression) that the far Left is suffering from this too, where individual councillors do not see a “party” as an advantage. Localism is writ large. More than ever, a byelection would see every pothole filled.
If I was a cynical backbencher, I would pick a local issue, have a row, and leave the party publically over it. Guaranteed return.

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3. Davy Hyland - August 21, 2019

Interesting that Irish times comprehensive coverage of both 2014 and 2019 local election results they provide photographs of n Reilly both as a Sinn Fein and as a ind councillor.someone likes her.

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4. irishelectionliterature - August 21, 2019

Regarding the coverage of independents candidates, The sheer volume of candidates from all hues in Local elections means it’s difficult to get coverage. It may differ where there are regional radio stations and papers but in Dublin where was he expecting the coverage to be?
Those that did get coverage often had to do some stunt or be unusual to get coverage.

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5. yourcousin - August 21, 2019

As a general counter point I would posit that the likes of the Green Party candidates benefited from a party affiliation last time out.

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