Like a thief in the night, the Taoiseach stole into Áras an Uachtaran this morning to ask the President to dissolve the 29th Dáil. Between now and 24 May, he country gets to mull over who we would like to see in charge for the next five years or so. So let’s see…
Decentralisation, raw sewage, Martin Cullen, Transport 21, Leas Cross, tax cuts, Martin Cullen, Shannon stopovers, rendition reports, the big tent at the Galway Races, the electoral register, PPARS, the National Aquatic Centre, MRSA, Martin Cullen, Martin Cullen…
No doubt everyone will be going through their last manifesto in the coming weeks checking what Fianna Fáil promised last time. Remember the pledge to end hospital waiting lists permanently by 2004? The promised reduction in class sizes for children under nine to 20? The metro link to Dublin Airport by 2007? And my personal favourite: ‘The €52 million investment by this Government on behalf of the taxpayers is absolutely secure and we will see those [e-voting] machines used.’ – Martin Cullen, 4 May 2004
The tail that wags the Fianna Fáil dog, tax cuts, more Guards, squabbles with hospital consultants and nurses, draconian criminal justice bills on a monthly basis, obsessive privatisation, tax cuts, health insurance, more Guards, co-location, tax cuts, long-fingering legislation on civil partnerships, more Guards, running up lamp posts to keep an eye on Bertie Ahern, and going into hiding when Bertie said he carried around fifty grand in cash for a few years, not to mention gifts and loans from friendly plasterers.
Riding on a high since the latest poll result made it look like they might actually get within an asses roar of power this time. Immediately decided to shoot themselves in the foot with a proposal to give free bottled water to the citizens of Galway. Still, at least its not as daft as their recent idea to send gurriers to Army boot camps to put a bit of manners on them. Or Jimmy Deenihan’s plan to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup in Ireland.
Their main problem is their leader, who is unable to shift his public image from bland and ineffectual nice guy. This is a problem for Enda, because is opponent’s image is nice guy who gets things done. In with a chance, if they can hold back on the urge to make silly promises to every interest group that lobbies them between now and election day.
More Fine Gael than Fine Gael themselves these days. Rabbitte can be seen in front of microphones more often than Enda, and is regarded as a better Dáil performer. The trouble is, no one except a few pol corrs seems to care about who performs better in the Dáil. Good for the occasional witty put-down, getting his retaliation in first on tax cuts, and sounding almost as arrogant as Michael McDowell.
Talking the talk of democracy, and mercifully no longer fighting the fight. I can at least take the Northern members seriously as politicians, even if I don’t always agree with them, but too many of the southern candidates seem to be no more than useful idiots whose careers are based on little more than donuting photo ops. They are the only party I’m aware of to propose a tax increase, with their plan to increase corporation tax on evil multi-nationals. [Stop Press: Sinn Fé in now seem to be retreating from their tax-hike proposals.]
For all that the environment has become a mainstream issue, I just can’t shake the feeling that the Irish variety of Green is more concerned with NIMBYism and keeping the incinerator out of their nice middle-class neighbourhood than making any real efforts to reduce pollution. Irish environmentalism is summed up in the recent sighting of a suburban SUV with a Green party sticker on the rear window.
They probably have a better chance of being king-makers than Sinn Féin, unless Labour wins the wrestling match with its conscience and decides to make eyes at Bertie.
An idea whose time has gone, it seems, though given the likely arithmetic of the next Dáil they may yet make a comeback.
They’re a motley crew who fall into several groups, among them disaffected Fianna Fáilers who failed to get the party nomination, local hospital candidates, and people like Tony Gregory and Joe Higgins who don’t fit into the Labour party because they’re socialists.
So, any suggestions on how I should vote?