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Seanad vocational panels – some calculations February 27, 2020

Posted by Tomboktu in Bits and Pieces, Irish Politics.

Nominations for the vocational panels in the Seanad general election close on Monday. The voters are the combined sets of: members of the city and county councils, members of the outgoing Seanad, and members of the Dáil.

My calculation is that the electorate will be 1,161 voters. It could possibly a few under that, but I expect that all council seats that became vacant with the Dáil election will be filled and that there will be no other vacant seats in any of the councils. There are eight vacancies in the Seanad following the Dáil election.

The 1,161 voters consist of the following:

  • 949 councillors
  • 160 TDs
  • 52 senators.


“This tops them all- guess who is being accused of letting loose the ‘Ra?” February 27, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

…this from Richard Waghorn, ahem, in The Critic points the finger of blame at…

Well, I won’t spoil the surprise. Read on, and as the person who sent the link to me noted, check out the cartoon accompanying it.

Legitimacy February 27, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I find this piece by Fintan O’Toole remarkably limited. He takes to task Sinn Féin for supporting the PIRA armed struggle and argues that there is no difference between that struggle and that of dissident republicans now. And yet I can’t help but feel that his analysis rests on a basic misunderstanding, that he doesn’t even touch on:

It is a very good thing that Sinn Féin has reversed itself and now rests its claim to political authority solely on the votes it has received in democratic elections in jurisdictions it previously refused to recognise. 

Why did SF ‘reverse’ itself? That’s the key question – because that represents a change. And the obvious answer is that a political dispensation was shaped which was distinct from the status quo ante and allowed for PIRA to go on cessation, eventually decommission and then as a functional paramilitary force to effectively wither away.

Whereas others have not accepted that dispensation and continue to rail against it.

It is this distinction, I think, which makes his analysis incomplete. One can entirely legitimately find commemorations and support for the armed struggle problematic in the extreme, while accepting that we are not comparing like and like. Whether an armed response to Stormont and direct rule was the correct response is open to question and dispute. What isn’t is that fact that once an overwhelmingly agreed context was put to the people of the island, North and South, one which was bought into by Sinn Féin and all significant others, then there was a support for that new agreed context from Sinn Féin with all subsequent changes in PIRA.

And I’d add that perhaps there is a blunt necessity for SF to support those in that period of conflict – politically, and for other reasons, and knowing many in SF I believe it to be completely sincere. But pragmatically, the demands that they change are pointless, irrelevant and likely were they to do so to be utterly counterproductive. Yet O’Toole, who is no fool and presumably is aware of all these facts, argues at the end:

Even if there were no living heirs to this toxic tradition, this double act would not be sustainable for Sinn Féin. But those heirs are out there, doing the same old things for the same old reasons. So long as Sinn Féin upholds the legitimacy of the “armed struggle”, it has no answer to the dissidents’ claims of continuity.

But no one has an answer to that claim of continuity, because it’s a semi-religious position. And in that sense SF’s upholding or not of armed struggle at a certain point is irrelevant.

Hurry, what hurry? February 27, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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As noted by Paul Culloty in comments BTL here, remarkable how slow things are moving. Indeed there’s an argument they’re actually decreasing speed…

The Dáil’s next attempt to elect a taoiseach is unlikely to take place until the latter end of March following the announcement there will be no vote on the position when the Dáil reconvenes next week.
The decision to defer the second vote on nominations for taoiseach was taken by the Dáil business committee on Tuesday. It was due to take place on March 5th.
With a recess taking place around the St Patrick’s Day holidays, the next vote will not take place until after March 19th.

Not talking to Sinn Féin? Not yet… February 27, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Interesting points made on RTÉ’s Your Politics podcast. The panel noted that the response to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s self-imposed ban on talking to Sinn Féin was not great from Independent politicians and others, particularly around the country. And that Fianna Fáil might see pressure coming on them to engage with SF, possibly even leaving to a coalition with them, something that would be the nightmare scenario for Fine Gael should it engage in talks about coalition with Fianna Fáil.

Some other points made, that the rhetoric about supposedly ‘bullying and intimidating’ rallies held by SF, or meetings as we usually call them, was counterproductive not least that the GP and Eamon Ryan had said that they too would be holding similar events too.

I know the GP gets some stick, sometimes entirely correctly, but I do think it has demonstrated a measured approach to matters at a time when such an approach was vitally necessary. And even if there’s some expedience there, it’s not necessarily the easiest course for them to take given a cohort of FG inclined voters in their support base.

As to government formation, yet again the panel argued that it would be Easter before we came close to that. Which raises the thought this may be no way to run a railroad, but there were are worse ways!

Bridge enthusiast February 26, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

An unusual article recently in the SBP from Elaine Byrne, where she argued that:

Let’s not prematurely dismiss outright the proposal to build a Northem lreland-to-Scot­land bridge. Boris Johnson has ordered a fea­sibility study into the project, which has the support of the DUP and was also welcomed by the Irish government.
It is easy and lazy to reject ideas because of who came up with them. The divisive and devil-may-care nature of Johnson means some find it hard to take him seriously. And so the bridge has become wrapped up in unionist ambitions to create not just an ideological, but a physical link with Britain. It is also seen as an attempt to bolster ties within a disunited kingdom that is fraying at the edges.

She argues that:

That does not necessarily mean it is a bad idea. Building bridges and tunnels in order to bring regions, trade and people closer together is a normal thing to do.
The cost, engineering difficulties and poor infrastructure links either side of the proposed bridge are all cited as reasons it should not be built. These, by the way, were the very same reasons given for spurning the Channel Tunnel.

I’m not sure that’s entirely comparing like with like.

She argues:

The one-hour flight between Dublin and London is Europe’s busiest air route and a bridge link is likely to be more environmentally friendly than air traffic the Welsh Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport published a report in 2014 which called for “serious consideration” to be given to a 62-mile Britain-Ireland tunnel, running from Holyhead to Dublin

These are not crazy ideas. Rather, it is mad that as an island nation we rely so heavily on ferries and air traffic for our economic development. Bridges are commonplace in­frastructure for much of the world Why not challenge our island mentality?


With every great project there is scepticism Imagination, vision, and ambition brought Ireland the 1920s Shannon hydroelectric power plant and the 1930s social housing schemes TK Whitaker’s 1958 Programme for Economic Expansion abandoned decades of failed ideological policies of fiscal nationalism and protectionism.

Examples she offers?

The breathtaking Oresund Bridge, known to television viewers from the opening credits of the Scandinavian crime series The Bridge, links Sweden to Denmark. Opened in 2000, it is expected to recover its costs by the late 2030s from a toll
Denmark and Germany are in the process of building an 11-mile tunnel between their two countries. Finland and Estonia are seriously considering a 30-mile undersea project called the Talsinki tunnel. Norway has launched a $40 billion transportation project that will include the world’s longest floating bridge.

Perhaps. The odd thing is that it takes very little time to recognise the massive logistical and other challenges facing the construction of links across the Irish Sea. She makes no mention of the depth of the sea – but take Oresund, where the depth is at its greatest 40 metres. By contrast the Beaufort Dyke’s Trench between Scotland and Ireland has a depth of 500m. There’s more information here on the issue, but what is striking is that nothing of quite this sort has been attempted before.

And for an engineering take consider this, linked to some time back here on the site.

As noted then…

…it only requires a 22 mile long bridge spanning depths of 1,000ft – including the munitions filled Beaufort Dyke – and requiring 30 support towers ‘at least 1,400ft high’ the like of which has never been built on the planet.

I’m all for fixed links between these islands – a bridge might well be feasible at some point in the medium term. But if one is going to sing the praises of ‘great projects’ and ‘challenge’ ‘island mentalities’ it makes sense to outline the practical material challenges from the off.

One other point – last year the Taoiseach welcomed the idea but said the Republic wouldn’t pay for it. If this comes close to being realised as a project I think it would be actually well worth the Republic putting some money into it for strategic reasons.

Independent Left: Dublin’s new Mayor… February 26, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Some interesting thoughts here on FF Mayor Tom Brabazon and statements he’s made across the years and then a broader analysis of Irish politics in the current era.

Those new Dáil groups… February 26, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

As noted in comments by Paul Culloty, the latest group to emerge in the current Dáil is one composed of Independent TDs Marian Harkin, Michael Fitzmaurice, Michael McNamara, Catherine Connolly, Thomas Pringle and Joan Collins. Six in total, and that’s a diverse crew and no mistake.

So we’ve now three groups of Independent/Others.

Meanwhile we have the Denis Naughten Regional TDs group which comprises Cathal Berry, Seán Canney, Peter Fitzpatrick, Noel Grealish, Michael Lowry, Verona Murphy, Denis Naughten himself, Matt Shanahan and Peadar Tóibín. Two former cabinet ministers in there and nine members in total.

And we have the group with Mattie McGrath in it which presumably is the 32nd Dáil’s Rural Independents Group reborn, albeit without Grealish and Lowry. Somewhat diminished that includes Michael Collins, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy Rae, McGrath and Carol Nolan. Five in total.

The only one unaccounted for at this point is Richard O’Donoghue. Where’s he going to wind up?

To me the Regional group is the one most clearly positioned to enter some sort of arrangement for government with the larger parties – if only on the numbers. Then again this is a world turned upside down!

What you want to say – 26 February 2020 February 26, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

Building the narrative around the election… February 25, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Jennifer Bray on the IT podcast had a good point about the current dynamics in play politically. She said that the manner in which FF and FG are saying to SF ‘go make a government now’ is potentially counterproductive in that all three parties came in at near enough the same seat numbers. And that therefore Fine Gael stepping back from the process, and Fianna Fáil too, is not a good look for them with voters.

And she has a point – certainly Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael could, if they so wished make a greater effort. But she noted that part of this is in a way to attack SF (natch!) and leave them hanging there, unable to cobble together, at least at this point or so it appears, a government and therefore allow the other two parties to swoop in a little further down the line with either a renewed ‘arrangement’ or perhaps even grand or national coalition.

And of course the time that SF is involved in trying to build some sort of administration is one where, the parties believe, a more negative focus can be brought to bear upon them and their policies. As noted in the previous post today.

It really is that cynical.

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