Stephen Collins fixes at the weekend upon some aspects of the election that are troubling, from his perspective – though not, perhaps, from ours (if we use the term ‘ours’ broadly). For example, the penny has finally dropped that appeals to stability may not be enough….
As the election inches closer, the conundrum of how the next government is going to be put together assumes ever greater significance. That uncertainty is something that could have a bearing on the outcome of the election itself.
…and that this may entail some fancy footwork on the part of the orthodox parties – but that too may not be enough… Sure there’s appeals to, frankly, useless comparisons…
A hung parliament [in the UK] was regarded as the inevitable outcome and senior civil servants prepared for it. In the event the Conservative government confounded expectations by winning a slim but workable majority and it was Labour that was plunged into chaos.
Something similar could happen here if enough voters take to heart the Coalition’s message of stability versus chaos.
…which in the same breath he has to admit aren’t really appropriate…
However, given our system of proportional representation, it is hard to see Fine Gael and Labour getting the 80 seats required for a majority in the 158-member Dáil.
The declaration by Fianna Fáil director of elections Billy Kelleher this week that his party would not go into coalition with Fine Gael or Sinn Féin and would not support a Fine Gael-led minority government from the outside highlighted the potential dilemma facing the political system.
Curiously he points to this:
So what do the options look like at this stage? The most likely result – and it is by no means certain – is Fine Gael and Labour will have about 70 seats between them. If they have slightly more than 70, they should be able to put together a deal with a few Independents such as Michael Lowry, Michael Healy-Rae, Noel Grealish and Denis Naughten who left Fine Gael over the Roscommon hospital issue.
But that only means they’d have 74-76 seats. They need 80 as a bare minimum and with 80 that would not be a government likely to last terribly long. Is it that the others who might be involved, say RENUA are the party that he dare not speak the name of? Perhaps the thinking is that in such an instance they might return to the fold? Hard to say, but the math is out, one way or another. As it is in the following:
However, if the Coalition fails to hit the 70-seat mark and needs the support of 10 or 12 TDs from outside its ranks, the situation could get very messy. The uncertainty involved in including so many disparate individuals or groups would make the formation of a stable government unlikely.
Even an FF supporting an FG minority government is problematic in his eyes.
He seems dubious about it, taking Billy Kelleher at his word that FF wouldn’t support FG in those circumstances. Appalling prospect number 1 in the event of that support is that:
It can also be argued that the national interest would not be served by leaving the Opposition side of the Dáil entirely to Sinn Féin, the hard left and a variety of others.
Perish the thought, that the voters could bring about this outcome!
Then we’re into fantasy land:
Depending on the figures, Fianna Fáil’s other option could be to attempt to take power with the tacit support of all the anti-Fine Gael elements in the Dáil.
And in a very telling paragraph or two he points to the Portuguese situation:
The current situation in our fellow bailout country, Portugal, is an example of what can happen. The outgoing centre-right government of Pedro Passos Coelho, which turned the country’s economy around, emerged as the biggest force in parliament after the recent general election but failed to win an overall majority.
The assumption was that the mainstream opposition Socialist Party, which was in government in the early stages of the financial crisis, would do some deal with the government to continue implementing the policies agreed with the EU authorities.
That “assumption” did indeed exist, but isn’t it remarkable that the idea of a party not going along with the EU ‘authorities’ would be so problematic, so appalling. Still, also remarkable that that appalling vista is something that is beginning to concern some tranches of orthodox opinion.
Most of us, I imagine, would think it absurd as a proposition. Indeed the focus on the left is on SF and its relationship with the rest of the opposition in regard to this very dynamic. But to incorporate FF into this is strange.
Dear, oh dear, pray that it is not so – eh?
‘Friendly contact’: Garda intelligence and the 1930’s IRA – guest piece by Brian Hanley November 25, 2015Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
Many thanks to Brian Hanley for the following piece.
When J. Bowyer Bell was completing his study of the IRA, The Secret Army, during the late 1960s, he complained of the paucity of internal material relating to the organization and suggested that this was because the IRA was unlikely to have kept very detailed records. The reality was of course that the IRA did keep records; and over the last 40 years very substantial archives relating to them have become accessible allowing scholars the opportunity to study the internal workings of the organization in great depth. Along with collections such as those of Ernie O’Malley, Richard Mulcahy and Moss Twomey, the Irish state has also released a substantial amount of intelligence material, mainly relating to the 1920s and 1930s. As well as captured documents these include Garda assessments of republican, communist and right-wing groups and reports on their activities. Anyone reading these will often wonder how the Department of Justice was so well informed about its ‘subversive’ opponents. A Garda report, dating from 1933 and released as part of a much larger collection of material in 2008 provides some clues. It claimed that
‘In practically every county Garda have established friendly contact with one or more members of the organization (the IRA). These persons within the organization in most cases receive payment at regular intervals but in some cases they will not take money, their motive in supplying information being that they do not want to see trouble developing locally. The ranks of these persons within the organization vary between Volunteer, Company O/C. and Battalion ranks. Members of the Detective Branch meet them regularly and learn from them the activities in (the) locality. Reports are made by Detective Branch verbally or in writing to the local officers who report all information considered of importance to Headquarters. The identity of such persons is known to local officers but is not revealed in writing. In some cases the local officer meets them at intervals. When reporting the officer usually states whether he considers the information reliable. The ranks only of local persons friendly disposed are known at Headquarters. Efforts are made by Garda to check information received by references to other sources of information. Where this is not possible locally it is possible in many cases to gauge at Headquarters the strength of the information by comparison with information from other areas. Where uncorroborated information of importance is received this is indicated in reports made to Government. Experience shows that the period of usefulness of sources of information does not last on an average more than a couple of years. Consequently continuous efforts have to be made to seek fresh sources of information. Generally it is found that the more activities are undertaken by local units of the organization the easier it is to secure fresh sources of information. Efforts are also made to locate channels of correspondence within the organization. Where it is known or strongly suspected that correspondence of the organization is sent by post to a particular address application is made to the Department of Justice for the issue of a Postal Warrant to have all correspondence addressed (to) there detained by the Postal Authorities and delivered to the Garda. The correspondence is unsealed and examined by Garda, copied or photographed if considered necessary and (the) original resealed and returned to Post Office without delay. Important information has frequently come to light in this manner.’
The report concluded by admitting that ‘the Garda cannot claim however that they know of all the activities of secret organizations. No intelligence system was ever established which could do this.’ Nevertheless it would seem that the state had managed to infiltrate the IRA at several levels. The political context is important of course. In 1933 the IRA was relatively large (perhaps 8-12,000 members) and organized quite openly; parading in public for instance. Identifying its membership would not have been difficult and in many cases at local level Gardaí and IRA activists would have known each other personally. The IRA were seeking to avoid conflict with the Fianna Fáil government and it was unclear what attitude that government would ultimately take towards the organization. But as very detailed Garda reports on IRA conventions during 1934 and 1935 (also released in 2008) show, even as confrontation between republicans and the government increased the state maintained substantial advantages in its battle with the IRA. The key one was that by the mid-1930s the southern state enjoyed a level of legitimacy among the wider public far beyond that ever enjoyed by the British or even the Free State of the 1920s. The contemporary IRA never found a way to address this leaving them open not just to state infiltration but also ultimately political isolation.
(The reports are contained in Jus/2008/117/740 in the National Archives.)
Another Fine Gael TD walks… November 25, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
It’s obviously not appropriate to discuss the proximate issues. But on the political front FG expresses remarkable calmness about losing yet another TD. Probably they’re right that this won’t impact too much on them, if at all.
And it would take a while to unpick some of the implicit class and other assumptions in the following from an unnamed FG source, wouldn’t it?
“He was a happy country solicitor and a bright fellow from a very good family, from a political dynasty with longevity. Now everything has fallen apart for him,” was the assessment following Conlan’s departure from the party yesterday.
What you want to say – 25th November 2015 November 25, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.
Sweden closes the door. November 24, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
[announced] tough measures to deter asylum seekers in a sharp reversal of its open-door policy towards people fleeing war and persecution.
The country’s generous asylum regime would revert to the “EU minimum”, Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said on Tuesday, revealing that most refugees would receive only temporary residence permits from April.
We are adapting Swedish legislation temporarily so that more people choose to seek asylum in other countries … We need respite,” Löfven said, criticising the EU for failing to agree to spread refugees more evenly around the bloc.
“It pains me that Sweden is no longer capable of receiving asylum seekers at the high level we do today,” Löfven said. “We simply cannot do any more.”
One analyst on the ground suggests that this is driven by practicalities in relation to resources.
The reversal in refugee policy, which follows the imposition of border controls two weeks ago, marks a policy choice the ruling red-green coalition would have considered unthinkable until asylum seekers began arriving this autumn at a rate of 10,000 a week. Official estimates suggest as many as 190,000 may come to this country of 10m people in 2015 alone.
The rise in refugee numbers has caused a frantic scramble to place roofs over their heads. At the weekend refugees arriving in the southern city of Malmö were forced to sleep on the streets because no beds could be found.
Whatever else, to date Sweden has been the European state most clearly willing to live up to its commitments to, and in some admirable ways perhaps to exceed them. Other states should at the very least start to live up to those same commitments.
It’s worth contextualising that with a very important piece by Phoebe Greenwood on the Guardian about the rise of far-right anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats.
This is what a nationalist racist (i.e. proto-fascist) party looks like – the delightful Sweden Democrats. Violence against refugees and arson against their accommodation continues to rise in Sweden (and in Germany), spurred on by these scum and their allies elsewhere.
And as Dr. X notes;
About half way through there’s a bit about an evening social at the Sweden Democrats’ party conference. One of the musicians on stage is quite clearly wearing a t-shirt with “Only Odin Can Judge Me” on it. There’s a quite well-known overlap between followers of this revived Pagan religion of “Odinism” and admirers of the Austrian house-painter, so. . .
Some other thoughts, what is striking is the SD’s openness about their anti-immigrant agenda, their awareness of presenting a ‘moderate’ face in dress and words and also – and this is very very telling I thought, the point made that unlike the other parties they went out knocking on doors – by which I presume they are activist about generating support in communities. No doubt they’re not the only ones who do so but it would appear that as in other places mainstream parties of the right and supposedly social democrat centre have given up the ghost in terms of such activity with predictable results.
Such generosity from Fine Gael November 24, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Fine Gael will not target “vulnerable” Labour seats in the general election, because the party wants the Coalition returned to power, senior sources have revealed.
And, not only but also!
A new ‘Operation Save Labour’ strategy is to be rolled out by Fine Gael in the coming weeks to help the junior Coalition party recover to 10% in the opinion polls, between now and the election, which looks likely to be held on Friday, February 19.
Polls….. November 24, 2015Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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It got me thinking if I were ever influenced by the polls in how I voted and of course it has. For instance in The Presidential Election I voted for a candidate that I thought may not get his expenses back rather than Michael D.
I presume too our electoral system is particularly easy to be influenced by polls. Polls may change your first preference in favour of someone else not seen as ‘safe’ or some other factor. Simple things like conducting polls and a party deciding to run an extra candidate. Will the polls decide who takes part in TV debates here or indeed which TV debate they take part in?
1916 Rising – Historic Walking Tour of Cabra and Phibsborough – Sunday 29th Nov @2pm November 24, 2015Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Meet outside Downey’s Pub on the Cabra Road and historian Brian Hanley will lead us through he local battle sites and places of interest during 1916.
No charge – everybody welcome.
Organised by the Cabra 1916 Rising Committee.
Check Facebook page for further details.
“…reckless nihilist alliances of the impractical left” he says! November 24, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
I can’t quote Pat Rabbit’s SBP piece too comprehensively this week because, well, what’s the point? First up he suggests that the paralysis in US politics is somewhat analogous to that in Irish politics.
Before applying the same analysis to Ireland, it should be said that the paralysis that has gripped US politics is extreme. Yet there are so many similarities on this side of the pond. Poll after poll emblazons the success of ‘the flamboyant populists of the left and the right’.
And there is this very curious point from someone who was a leading member, indeed an elected TD for the WP:
It can be argued that eruption of these exotic creatures in Ireeland is relatively harmless compared to other member states of the EU where they are organised in ugly new parties of the right or reckless nihilist alliances of the impractical left.
He continues that, and this is a typical complaint on his part…
….that they still feed the mood of distrust in politics.
From a man who himself led a party which entered government and promptly shredded its own electoral platform some would think that chutzpah on a grand scale. Some might think it worse.
There’s another further complaint which is, when one thinks about it startling. Complaining about ‘disproportionate criticism’ in politics – the memory of a hapless Pat Carey feeling the full blast of Rabbitte’s righteous anger unaccountably slips into my mind at that, he writes:
Why for example was the fallout from the recession father 1980s of such different character from the environment created by the Great Recession of 2008? Is it only because people have fallen from a greater height?
Well, some of us might think the duplicity and fallibility of those who said the system worked – who championed ever lower personal taxes, etc, etc might have something to play in this too.
Anyhow, he concludes by writing:
The proposition that ‘the flamboyant populists of the Left’ are crating a genuine Left alternative or that they are forcing a Left-Right division in Irish politics is manifestly untrue. They are crating futile ‘antiestablishment’ versus ‘establishment’ conflict which is purely divisive. Stoking up an anti-politician culture will not tackle inequality or any other major issue.
But neither will the LP be able to do in any satisfactory fashion while locked in perpetual embrace with FG, and seemingly happy to be there.
Defining an independent November 24, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
The Independent Alliance has received legal advice on whether Independents can be recognised on the ballot paper.
Weirdly I think they’ve got a point. The idea that a ballot paper can’t have the term Independent on its seems bizarre. Broadly speaking I’d feel that it is up to those going forward to describe themselves in whatever way – subject to fairly minor constraints – as they see fit. What do others think?