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The Local Elections in the North May 25, 2014

Posted by Garibaldy in Local Politics.
3 comments

With all 462 seats declared, some brief thoughts on the elections in the north (and corrections or things I have missed very welcome in the comments). The number of councils fell from 26 to 11, and the number of councillors fell by about 100. It was widely expected that the big two would benefit most from these changes, with independents and smaller parties being squeezed. One of the major questions going into the election was how what we might call Provisional gene pool anti-agreement candidates would fare (some being what would usually be called dissidents, and some not). As far as I am aware not one of the outgoing 582 councillors identified primarily as left. Being the CLR, we may as well start with the left.

The PBPA will be delighted to have taken a seat for Black Mountain in west Belfast on Belfast City Council, the first primarily left candidate to be elected to it since Seamus Lynch for the WP in 1989 I think. This was both a shock and not a shock; Gerry Carroll has had a number of good election results in recent years, so it didn’t come out the blue, but is still a very impressive achievement, especially given being elected on the second count after just missing being elected on the first. It’s worth noting he was elected despite the presence of Padraic Mac Coitir of éirígí in the same constituency, who came close to taking a seat last time (when Carroll didn’t stand in the locals) and who many people thought would take one this time if there was to be anyone elected from outside the two big nationalist parties. It could be that Carroll was able to harness the vote from left-inclined opponents of the Stormont status quo better who might previously have voted for the big two nationalists but I don’t know. Elsewhere in Belfast, it was a mixed bag for the left. The votes in South and East remained pretty stagnant, while there was some growth, from a low base, in the north, where the WP ran two young candidates. Outside Belfast, Donal O Cofaigh, a SP member, did very well with over 500 votes standing as Fermanagh against Fracking, so I guess that vote is open to interpretation as to its meaning, although there was a tradition of a left councillor in Enniskillen for a good while. The PBPA in Derry ran one candidate as opposed to 4. I still think there’s a council seat up there for them, but it would take Eamonn McCann standing himself to win it, but people who know things on the ground there may have a different view. So all in all, I think it’s fair to say a mixed result for the transformative left, with the election of Carroll standing out.

There was a time when any discussion of the self-declared left in NI would have included the PUP as a matter of course. The waters on that are a lot more muddy now than they were in Davy Ervine’s or even Dawn Purvis’s day. Leaving that question aside, it was a good election for the PUP, with 4 councillors elected (3 in Belfast, 1 extra) and nearly 13,000 votes (2% basically). Billy Hutchinson was elected on the first count. Hard to shake the feeling though that it was flags and marches that produced that result. Speaking of people whose position relative to the left is unclear, the Greens also did well. They got 4 councillors, 3 in North Down and Ards, their stronghold, and 1 in Belfast. The other centre party Alliance held most of what they had, despite claims from some unionists that they would be in serious trouble following their being blamed for the Belfast decision on flags, and the wave of attacks on their offices.

As for the big 2, Peter Robinson and co took the most seats but not the most votes, which went to Martin McGuinness and co. Both therefore are claiming victory. The UUP made some headway, while a close analysis of the figures shows the SDLP did better than some of the headline results would suggest. Other unionists did quite well, with the TUV taking 13 seats and UKIP 3 (despite Farrage being barred from being photographed in the Crown Bar). It’s possible Jim Allister may be joined by someone from his party at the next Assembly election. NI21 which was unionist, then decided it was other, but remains unionist in Stormont until the next election when it probably won’t exist due to infighting and allegations against its leader, also took a seat. Not sign of much movement on the nationalist/unionist split overall.

Regarding the provisional gene pool, some former members like Davy Hyland, Bernice Swift and Barry Monteith (also ex-éirígí I think) took or held their seats. The headline result here, however, is Gary Donnelly of the 32 CSM not only being elected but topping in the poll in his area of the new Derry/Strabane council (a couple of other independents were elected in Derry, but I don’t know their politics). An ex-IRSP candidate who missed out last time by the very slimmest of margins was elected in Strabane, but as an independent (I don’t think the IRSP ran any candidates). In Belfast, éirígí and candidates backed by the like of the Republican Network for Unity missed out, and will be disappointed. It’s possible this sort of candidate was elected elsewhere but I don’t know.

Overall then, some fraying at the edges of the two big blocs, which remain firmly in control. Some of the fraying is very welcome, and some not when we see UKIP and the TUV’s performance.

The Left and Elections in Rural Ireland 1973 to present October 5, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics, Local Politics, The Left.
36 comments

The recent thread on WUAG leaving the ULA asked about the strength of the Left in rural Ireland.
Now I know electoralism is frowned upon by some on the Left but I figured electoral activity was a good way of trying to measure the strength or indeed presence of the Left in various places.
I have a good deal of old local election results myself in spreadsheets and books and old newspaper results supplements as well as electionsireland.org.
The only area where this may be incomplete results wise is Town Councils and UDCs.
I did my best in identifying what part of the political spectrum Independents were and I may have missed out various candidates or included in error .
Labour and Sinn Fein not counted as ‘Left’ for this.

From the below results it can be seen that from 1973 to today every county bar Leitrim has had a candidate from a Left party. This in turn would indicate that there was at some point a party organisation within those counties.

One thing that struck me looking at the results was how widespread OSF/SFWP/ WP were. As a party Dail seat wise and poll wise their trajectory went upwards from 1981 until the DL split. Yet its in 1979 that they had a far bigger geographical spread of candidates  with candidates put forward in Cavan,Mayo, Laois, Offaly , Longford and Sligo. These were places where they never stood again. Did the local organisations die out in that time?

Carlow –
There have been OSF/WP candidates in General Elections for Carlow Kilkenny but these were all Kilkenny based.
Only record of a Left candidate I can find is Margaret O’Brien who ran for the Workers Party in the 1985 Local Elections in Carlow where she polled 91 votes.

Cavan
General Elections -No disernable Left candidates
Elected in Local Elections
Paul Doran elected as an Indpendent Socialist in for Cavan UDC in 1985

Candidates in Local Elections
Bailieborough 1979 -James Finnegan SFWP 50 votes

Clare
General Elections
Feb 1982 -Brigid Makowski IRSP -232
1987 Brigid Makowski Ind 644
1997 Brigid Makowski Ind 944

Local Elections
Elected
1991 -Brigid Makowski Ind -Shannon 545 votes
1982 Brigid Makowski IRSP -Shannon TC
1985 Brigid Makowski Ind -Shannon TC
1994 Brigid Makowski Ind -Shannon TC 345

Candidates
1974 -Siobhan Thomas OSF -Ennis 137 votes
1979 -Peter Lawlor SLP -Ennis 71
1979 -Gerry Hourigan SFWP -Ennis 138
1979 -James Tierney SFWP -Ennistymon 51
1985 -Brigid Makowski IND?- Shannon 372
1985 Dermot Hayes WP -Ennis 186
1999 Dominic Haugh SP -Shannon 108
2004 Damon Wise SWP -Shannon 27
2004 Damon Wise SWP -Shannon TC 15
2004 Karen Wise SWP -Shannon 6
2004 Karen Wise SWP -Shannon TC 5
2009 Damon Wise Ind -Shannon 42
2009 Karen Wise Ind -Shannon TC 16

Donegal
General Elections
Thomas Pringle Ind 2010 Donegal SW By Election 3438
Thomas Pringle 2011 Donegal SW 5,845
Seamus Rodgers stood in 1973, 1977,1980 By Election, Feb 1982, Nov 1982, 1983 by-election,1987, 1989 and 1992 for SF,SFWP,WP and DL without being elected
his record is here

Local Elections
Elected
1974 Seamus Rodgers OSF -Glenties 1580
1979 Seamus Rodgers SFWP -Glenties 1519
1985 Seamus Rodgers WP -Glenties 1352
1991 Seamus Rodgers WP -Glenties 1427
1999 Thomas Pringle Ind -Donegal 954
2009 Thomas Pringle Ind -Donegal 1501
2009 Tom Crossan LRP -Letterkenny TC 417

Candidates
1974 Sean O’Donnell OSF -Letterkenny 598
1979 Sean O’Donnell SFWP -Letterkenny 484
1979 Michael Byrne SFWP – Donegal 192
1994 D Doyle DL -Ballyshannon TC 66
2004 Francis McCafferty -SP -Letterkenny TC 64

Galway (County Council)
Local Candidates
1974 Jimmy Brick OSF -Galway 356
1979 Tony Coffey SFWP-Galway 872
1985 Colm Ó Donnchadha WP -Galway 271
1985 Stan MacEoin – WP -Loughrea 246
1991 Stan MacEoin – WP -Loughrea 338

Kerry
General Elections
1973 Paddy Callaghan OSF -Kerry South 1,014
1977 Redmond O’Sullivan OSF -Kerry South 1,065
Nov 1982 Sean O’Grady WP -Kerry South 679
1987 Sean O’Grady WP -Kerry South 735

Local Elections
Elected
1974 Sean O’Grady WP -Killarney TC
1979 Sean O’Grady WP -Killarney TC
1985 Sean O’Grady WP -Killarney TC
1991 Sean O’Grady WP -Killarney TC
1994 Sean O’Grady Ind -Killarney TC 356
1999 Sean O’Grady Ind -Killarney TC 546

Candidates
1974 Redmond O’Sullivan OSF -Killarney 1,255
1979 Redmond O’Sullivan SFWP -Killarney 1,159
1985 Donal Tobin WP – Tralee  413
1985 Paddy Callaghan WP -Killorglin 169
1985 Sean O’Grady WP -Killarney 987
1985 Redmond O’Sullivan Ind -Killarney 670
2009 Sean Moraghan PBPA -Tralee TC 127

Kildare
General Elections

Elected
2011 Catherine Murphy Ind -6911
Catherine Murphy 2005 Kildare North By Election 5,985

Candidates

1987 Colm Purcell WP -1238 votes
1989 Catherine Murphy WP – 1520
1992 Catherine Murphy DL – 1,613
1997 Catherine Murphy DL – 2,762
2007 Catherine Murphy Ind -5,188

Local Elections -Elected
1985 Colm Purcell WP – Celbridge 722
1991 Catherine Murphy WP -Celbridge 1,242
2004 Catherine Murphy Ind -Leixlip 2,101
2009 Catherine Murphy Ind -Leixlip 4,499
2004 Catherine Murphy Ind Leixlip TC 1,225
1994 Catherine Murphy DL Leixlip TC 546
1994 F Purcell DL Leixlip TC 544
1991 Catherine Murphy WP Leixlip TC
1988 Catherine Murphy WP Leixlip TC

Candidates
1979 Colm Purcell SFWP -Clane 437
1979 Myles McGrath SFWP – Naas 135
1985 Dan O’Sullivan WP -Naas 313
1991 Eugene Little WP -Athy 51
1991 Mary larkin WP -Naas  263
1994 G McDonagh DL -Leixlip TC 134

Kilkenny
-Sean Walsh WP 1977,1981,feb 82, Nov 82  results at electionsireland.org
1989 Liam Quigley WP 1,159

2011 Conor Mac Liam SP 1,135

Council Elected

1974 Sean Walsh OSF -Piltown 649
1979 Sean Walsh SFWP -Piltown 810
1985 Sean Walsh WP -Piltown 1145
Liam Quigley was also a Councillor on Kilkenny Corporation from 1985

candidates

1974 Patrick Murphy OSF -Piltown 160
1979 Joe Doyle  SFWP -Thomastown 276
1979 Bill Kelly SFWP -Piltown 181
1979 Anne Croke SFWP -Piltown 107
1985 Joe Doyle WP -Thomastown 301
1985 Noel O’Farrell WP -Kilkenny 198
1991 Martin Kennedy WP -Piltown 396
1991 Joe Butler WP – Kilkenny 268
1994 Joe Butler DL -Kilkenny Borough -263
1999 Davy Walsh WP -Piltown 269

Laois
General
2011 Raymond Fitzpatrick SP  561

Local Election candidates

1979 Gabriel Lalor SFWP -Portlaoise 123

Leitrim
Couldn’t find anyone with a left banner in Local elections.
Declan Bree would have been Sligo Town based.

Longford

Local Election candidates

1979 Packs Prunty SFWP -Longford 119
1979 Tom Connolly SFWP -Longford 113

Louth

General Election candidates
1973 Donnchadha MacRaghnaill OSF 1450
1977 Donnchadha MacRaghnaill OSF 1894
1981 Donnchadha MacRaghnaill SFWP 785
Feb 82 Donnchadha MacRaghnaill SFWP 742
Nov 82 Donnchadha MacRaghnaill WP 671
1987 Donnchadha MacRaghnaill WP 570
1992 Peter Short WP 249
2002 Peter Short WP 176
2007 Peter Short WP 193

Local Elections

Elected

1974 Donnchadha MacRaghnaill OSF -Drogheda
1979 Donnchadha MacRaghnaill SFWP -Drogheda 664
2009 Frank Gallagher SP -Drogheda BC 504

Candidates

1974 Maurice Coffey OSF -Dundalk 355
1979 Rose Hickey SFWP -Ardee 82
1979 Tim Morgan SFWP -Dundalk 184
1979 Joe Coyle SFWP – Drogheda 166
1985 Pat Rooney WP -Dundalk Rural 146
1985 Tim Morgan WP – Dundalk Urban 126
1985 John McKenna WP -Drogheda Urban 103
1991 Peter Short WP -Dundalk Urban 237
1991 Donnchadha MacRaghnaill Ind – Drogheda Urban 149
1999 Peter Short WP -Dundalk South 197
1999 Peter Short WP -Dundalk No 1 TC  211
2004 Frank Gallagher SP -Drogheda No 1.  437
2009 Peter Short WP -Dundalk C TC  183
2009 Peter Short WP -Dundalk South 241
2009 Syd Smyth PBPA – Dundalk W TC 51

Mayo

Local Election candidate
1979 Cathal Quinn SFWP -Killala 323

Meath

General Elections
2011 Seamus McDonagh WP Meath West 189
1997 Christy Gorman DL 798
1992 Christy Gorman DL 809
1989 Christy Gorman WP 628
1989 John King WP  262
1987 Seamus McDonagh WP 790

Local Elections

Elected

1991 Christy Gorman WP -Navan 663

Candidates

1979 Olive Rogers SFWP -Kells 74
1979 Jim O’Brien SPI -Navan 79
1985 Seamus McDonagh WP – Navan 354
1985 John King WP -Dunshaughlin 243
1991 John King WP -Dunshaughlin 417
1991 Christy Gorman Ind -Navan 583
1994 Christy Gorman DL – Navan TC 713

Monaghan
Dail
David Vipond CPI-ML 1973 Monaghan By-Election 175

Local Election Candidates
1974 Pat john McKenna OSF -Monaghan 194
1974 Owen Kirk OSF -Carrickmacross 194
1974 Peadar Doyle OSF – Carrickmacross 119
1974 P. Ó Maolagain OSF -Castleblaney 98
1979 Michael McKenna SFWP -Monaghan 119
1979 Francis O’Donoghue SFWP -Carrickmacross 157
1979 Owen Kirk SFWP – Carrickmacross 118
1985 Francis O’Donoghue WP -Carrickmacross 193
1991 Francis O’Donoghue WP -Carrickmacross 249

Offaly
No Offaly based General Election candidates

Local Election candidates
1979 James Corcoran SFWP -Tullamore 74

Roscommon
No Roscommon based General Election candidates

Local Election candidates
2009 Tim Stevens PBPA – Mid Roscommon 119

Sligo

General

Declan Bree’s Electoral record at electionsireland.org

Local Elections
Elected
1974 Declan Bree Sligo Corp 348
1974 Declan Bree Sligo CoCo 550
1979 Declan Bree ISP Sligo Corp 451
1979 Declan Bree ISP Sligo CoCo 1154
1985 Declan Bree ISP Sligo Corp 668
1985 Declan Bree ISP Sligo CoCo 960
1991 Declan Bree ISP Sligo -Sligo CoCo 675
2009 Declan Bree Sligo Corp East 912

Candidates
1979 David Smith ISP Sligo Corp 135
1979 Michael Leyden SFWP Sligo Corp 47
1979 Martin Gaffney ISP Sligo Corp 89
1979 Michael Leyden SFWP Sligo CoCo 167
1985 Pat Fallon ISP Sligo Corp 62
1985 Pat Fallon ISP Drumcliffe -Sligo CoCo 62
1985 John Harrison ISP Drumcliffe -Sligo CoCo 175
1991 John McCarrick ISP -Ballymote-Sligo CoCo 271
1991 Pat Fallon ISP Sligo -Sligo CoCo 111
1991 John Harrison ISP Drumcliffe -Sligo CoCo 282
1991 Frank Dobbs ISP Drumcliffe -Sligo CoCo 117

Tipperary
General Elections
Elected
Seamus Healy WUAG 2000 Tipp South By- Election 9,419
2011 Seamus Healy WUAG/ULA 8,818
2002 Seamus Healy WUAG 7,350

Not Elected
2007 Seamus Healy WUAG 5,707
Phil Prendergast WUAG 2001 Tipp South By- Election 7,897
1987 Seamus Healy 1,457
1987 Sean Hill WP 407
1989 Seamus Healy WUAG 2,859
1992 Seamus Healy WUAG 4,023
1997 Seamus Healy WUAG 5,814

Local Elections
Elected
1991 Seamus Healy WUAG -Clonmel 1582
1991 Christy Kinahan Ind -Tipperary 766
1999 Christy Kinahan Ind -Tipperary 908
1999 Phil Prendergast WUAG -Clonmel 463
1999 Seamus Healy WUAG -Clonmel 1525
1999 Seamus Healy WUAG -Clonmel BC 1111
1999 Phil Prendergast WUAG -Clonmel BC 370
1999 Billy Shoer WUAG -Clonmel BC 337
1999 Brian O’Donnell WUAG -Clonmel BC 231
2004 Christy Kinahan Ind -Tipperary 721
2004 Phil Prendergast WUAG -Clonmel 1353
2004 Billy Shoer WUAG -Clonmel 866
2004 Pat English WUAG -Clonmel 802
2004 Phil Prendergast WUAG -Clonmel BC 666
2004 Billy Shoer WUAG -Clonmel BC 537
2004 Pat English WUAG -Clonmel BC 482
2004 Brian O’Donnell WUAG -Clonmel BC 394
2009 Seamus Healy WUAG -Clonmel 2366
2009 Pat English  WUAG -Clonmel 674
2009 Seamus Healy WUAG -Clonmel BC 1602
2009 Pat English  WUAG -Clonmel BC 443
2009 Brian O’Donnell WUAG -Clonmel BC  235
2009 Teresa Ryan WUAG -Clonmel BC 206
2009 Billy Shoer WUAG -Clonmel BC 423
2009 Martin Henzey WUAG -Carrick On Suir TC 170

Not Elected
1985 Sean Hill WP -Cashel 299
1985 Christy Kinahan WP -Tipperary 636
1985 Michael Langton WP -Fethard 178
1985 Seamus Healy Ind -Clonmel 535
1991 Peadar O’Donnell WP -Tipperary 83
1991 Brian O’Donnell WUAG -Clonmel 452
1999 Brian O’Donnell WUAG -Clonmel 261
1999 Billy Shoer WUAG -Clonmel 313
2009 Billy Shoer WUAG -Clonmel 580

Westmeath
No Westmeath based General Election candidates

Local Election candidate
1985 Patrick Boyce WP -Mullingar Urban 19

Wexford
General Election candidates
2011 Seamus O’Brien PBPA 741
1997 Michael Enright DL 1454
1992 Michael Enright DL 797
1989 Michael Enright WP 1049
1987 Michael Enright WP 1250
Nov 1982 John Roche WP 920

Local Elections

Elected
1985 M Enright WP Wexford BC
1994 M Enright DL Wexford BC 374
1994 S O’Brien Ind New Ross TC 194

Candidates
1974 Sean Doyle OSF -Enniscorthy 511
1974 Sean Rossiter OSF -Wexford 196
1979 Tom Murphy SFWP -Gorey 145
1979 Sean Rossiter SFWP -Wexford 167
1979 John Teehan SLP -Wexford 116
1979 Michael Enright SLP -Wexford 113
1985 Richard Synott WP -Enniscorthy 144
1985 Ingrid O’Brien WP -New Ross 142
1985 Michael Enright WP -Wexford 480
1991 Michael Enright WP -Wexford 893
1994 J Corish WP Wexford 122
1994 D Hynes DL Wexford 118
2004 John Carty SWP – Gorey 189
2004 Seamus O’Brien Ind -New Ross TC 80

Cork,Galway City, Limerick, Waterford, Wicklow and Dublin are possibly worth posts of their own.

The long war? December 5, 2007

Posted by franklittle in Environment, Irish Politics, Local Politics, Minor Left Parties, Socialist Party, Socialist Workers' Party, The Further Left, The Left, Trotskyism.
7 comments

I was slightly surprised to read on Indymedia today that the Galway Bin Charges Campaign held a picket outside Galway City Council as part of a laudable, and it should be noted successful, campaign against an initiative from the City Manager to remove the waiver on bin charges for bin lifts. Protestors accurately pointed out that this would have a substantial impact on the worst off in Galway.

My surprise was not because Galway Alliance Against War felt it necessary to turn up in a credulity stretching interpretation of its mandate, but in the continued existence, however chimera like of the anti-bin tax campaign in places around the country and the continued lack of anything like a strategy to get rid of the charges.

Drimnagh, where I live, was home to one of the strongest anti-bin charges campaigns in Ireland. Joan Collins, former SP, successfully rode the campaign into the Council chamber and Bríd Smith of the SWP/PBP wasn’t a million miles away from doing the same in Ballyfermot. Like most households in our area, the Littles refused to pay the bin charges, attended the meetings and a couple of marches and protests and quizzed candidates in 2002 and 2004 on where they stood on the issue.

Now, again like most of our neighbours, we pay the charge. Grudgingly certainly, but we pay it nonetheless. Yet, as a search on Indymedia for bin tax related stories will reveal, there are still occasional protests and campaign work in parts of Drimnagh, in Ringsend, and there was a small protest outside Dublin City Council when the Estimates were debated at the end of November and where, for the first time in Dublin City, Sinn Féin councillors backed the Estimates containing bin charges.

But here’s the thing. The campaign is, to all intents and purposes, over. Non-payment, as a means to ‘axe the tax’ has failed. I don’t, by the way, think it failed because it was the wrong strategy. I think it was the right one. It failed because the unions, Labour and Sinn Féin wouldn’t back it and they should not be allowed to forget that. Non-payment levels in the Dublin local authorities are not worrying the City Manager and outside of Dublin it was never really a political issue. The extended family in the rural homeland of the Littles was paying bin charges for several years without complaint before it blew up as an issue in Dublin.

Power to bring in and set the level of the Bin Tax has been taken from the councillors and put in the hands of the City and County Managers. Regardless of how a councillor votes, he or she cannot alter the rate at which the charge is set. In theory, a majority of councillors could refuse to bring in the Estimates and collapse the Council, but this would need to happen in several different areas before the Government would be forced to act in any way other than simply appointing Commissioners to run the City or County.

But there is no sign of such a majority on any Council, and every indication from the recent elections that the working class are not rising from their chairs with a ballot paper in one hand and a burning Bin Charges bill in the other. Indeed the most prominent anti-bin charges campaigner in the country, whose constituency was home to one of the stronger anti-bin charges campaign, lost his seat. If anything, with the inclusion of the always pro-bin charges Greens, the prospect of their abolition has become even more unlikely. Councillors in Dublin City who voted against the Estimates because of the charges have had their positions misrepresented as having votes against the new playground for the area, or the new litter warden because they were also contained in the Estimates. Clearly, supporters of bin charges are no longer afraid, and many opponents no longer see political capital in it.

So, why do the protests and the anti-bin charges campaign continue? In part, one supposes it is because of the still outstanding legal issues around the charges, but I can’t help but wonder if certain individuals and parties are happy to keep the campaign ticking over in order to maintain their profiles ahead of the next election.

This is not a debate about the rights and wrongs of double taxation. The bin charges are wrong and should be opposed. But is it the best use of the limited resources the left in Ireland has available to it to fight a battle that has been lost for a couple of years? There is, in my opinion, no shame in accepting that, for now, a battle is lost and preparing to fight a new one until the opportunity to refight the charges comes again. There is and was shame in not fighting at all, or in supporting the charges in the first place.

At what point do you accept that a campaign is over? At what point do you acknowledge defeat or claim victory? And when does the maintenance of a campaign become more of an exercise in political manipulation and candidate profiling and less of a genuine attempt to right a wrong and correct an injustice?

Local Politics, Sinn Féin and commitment… or, do you want to work until you drop? October 23, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Local Politics, Sinn Féin, The Left.
15 comments

800px-mary_lou_mcdonald_and_nicky_kehoe_sinn_fein.jpg

I’ve meant to look more closely at the most recent issues of Magill. There’s a lot to think about in there – particularly an article Splintered Sunrise drew attention to about the ‘fate’ of the left written from an unusually idiosyncratic view. Still, events get in the way, always with the events. Meanwhile let’s in passing note an inaccurate swipe at Politics.ie in Magill in the most recent issue by Wigmore. Wigmore wrote:

Is there anything as awful as political blog sites? Not the sites of writers and personalities, but the bulletin boards and chat rooms. The hope that the likes of politics.ie would provide a useful debating chamber has receeded, as anoraks post endless amounts of abusive, juvenile messages attacking each other, or attacking mainstream politicians, often on the various aspects of … their physical appearance. It has become the cyber equivalent of the toilet door, with scrawled slogans and unsigned messages. Are these the malcontents who can’t get letters published in the newspapers. Or don’t they have social lives or walking-talking girlfriends, or boyfriends? Get out a bit more, guys and girls. And anyway, the election is over.

Yes. Well. Anyone who does more than pass through knows that far from being graffiti, or anonymous, it is easy to get to know and engage with people constructively. And the accusation of attacks on ‘physical appearance’ puzzle me. But it’s also missing the point. P.ie is interesting because it’s fluid, it’s combative and often partisan. That may sometimes be a weakness, but more often it’s a strength, and for me it remains enormously useful for tracking current events in way that more mainstream and sedate news sources simply are not. And by the way, much as I find Magill entertaining in its own way, the current bi-monthly configuration is a bit puzzling when contextualised by the promise on the masthead of being a ‘monthly’ magazine…

And reading Politics.ie, what do I see?
Why that Nicky Kehoe of Sinn Féin has resigned his seat on Dublin City Council.

Or as breakingnews.ie put it:

A leading Sinn Féin member of Dublin City Council has resigned his seat, the party confirmed tonight.

A spokeswoman for the party said he was the fifth Sinn Féin councillor to resign for personal reasons since 2004 and is the 16th member of the 52 person Dublin council to bow out.

He is reported to have taken the decision for personal family reasons and to allow for younger members in the party to come through…

Already the rumour mill has swung into action. The latter day Kremlinologists who delight in such matters are working over time on reading this. Is it a sign than SF is significantly damaged by the 2007 Election? A portent of troubles over the Peace Process? A guarded signal of discontent by a Councillor who nearly but not quite captured a seat in the constituency in 2002 and who then saw Mary Lou McDonald MEP also fail to win the seat this year

I’ll be honest, I don’t know. I’ve seen Kehoe in action over the past number of years and he’s impressed me as a hard working representative. But so has Christy Burke – who laboured even longer and arguably for less reward. It’s telling that the current mutterings seem to ignore how he gave way as candidate back in the day for the younger Kehoe.

But putting all that aside I think for once it is possible that the old excuse of ‘personal family reasons’ might just be true. Why so? Simply because of the time lines and the math. The next local election is in 2009. The next General Election in 2012 (if not sooner). The local election after that will be in 2014. That’s seven years into the future. That’s the level of commitment demanded and it’s no small commitment. Working on DCC, indeed on any Council, is a largely unrewarding and difficult task. Evening after evening is taken up by meetings. One’s personal life is mortgaged, often – to be honest – to the possibility of future political success. Now, let’s not overstate this. Some people enjoy this enormously. I know a Councillor in the constituency who told me that at first he found the job too time-consuming but in the last year or so had begun to really enjoy it. That happens. But the opposite dynamic also happens.

Let’s also consider that for smaller parties such as SF (and the Labour party, and others) the demands on their Councillors are different to those of the larger parties. It is not coincidental that at residents meetings it is usually the ‘left’ parties, and Fianna Fáil who turn up more often than not. They have to be there. Smaller party or independent machines simply don’t have the heft that the larger ones do. Each vote is fought for on the micro level. And that means being there, on the ground, day in day out.

The banality of evil is a phrase that has achieved a certain currency. Well, what about the banality of local politics?

I’ve been there numerous times and seen the reps from the other side, on campaigns, on residents groups and so on.

There’s nothing like it. Sandwiched into livingrooms of houses, where residents and Councillors attempt to deal with one or other seemingly mundane issue. Traffic, crime, funding for community projects. Usually there is a pall of cigarette smoke. Sure, people go into the garden to have a few, but they tend to leave the door open.

The mind wanders at these things, particularly because agendas appear to be seen as merely the springboard for near Joycean excursions on any and all topics. Two, three hours of that and one is happy to head home and not appear for another month – if the local committee doesn’t want to meet in the meantime or there isn’t a Policing Forum meeting, or some sort of other activity.

What it must be like for the public reps is a different matter. “Not fun” springs to mind as the answer.

And progress is all in political endeavour. For Nicky Kehoe, Councillor, one-time candidate, and a candidate who came tantalisingly close to snatching the prize, the thought of another seven years, or perhaps more, must be the prospect of a living hell. A political ground-hog day.

How would 2008 be different from 2006? Or worse again, 2011? Or 2013? He is 51 today. In 2013 he will be 57. I can only compare it to my situation where I turned 42 last week (cash, no cheques please). The thought of seven years of relentless politics that would leave me still the right side of 50 is disturbing.

And of course written into this is a subtext regarding Mary Lou McDonald. Will she be the Election candidate in 2012? Again, I don’t know. But SF, as with all parties, is looking to the long term. They have to start now, today, on building the profile of a candidate for 2012. I suspect that five years from now the political landscape in the constituency will be rather different. No Ahern for one thing. Perhaps some other party TDs might decide to step down (although that seems – as best as I can judge it – to be highly unlikely). Perhaps SF thinks that with another leader, perhaps a rural based leader, FF might be vulnerable in the urban centres to a renewed assault on its working class vote. Kehoe might well look at the vote and consider that while he came close, MLM didn’t come quite as close, and while an SF candidate might do better – much better- next time there are no guarantees. So why take the risk?

Politics is a tiring business. It takes a very special sort of mind to be willing to remain active and energetic across multiple decades, to stay loyal to a single party, to a single ideology. It needs support, tangible personal and political achievements and the prospect of more in the future. I often look at the vibrant (overly so some might suggest) Fine Gael benches in the Dáil and I wonder how energetic they will be in five years time after five years of opposition have worn them down – and remember they have the advantage of having made it into the heart of the representative democracy. Dublin City Council? Real achievements, fundamental progress, somewhere that genuine positive impacts can be made in enabling people. But for those with ambitions in politics or with a hinterland beyond politics?

So, I’d have enormous sympathy for Kehoe, and indeed any other Councillor in the same predicament, which is to say almost all of them.

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