The late Alex Higgins played a famous frame that highlighted his particular genius. In it, he played shots that nudged other balls into positions whose advantages only became clear much later in the frame (one on the green stood out). In 1963, Seán Lemass’s Fianna Fáil government repealed aspects of the 1923 Electoral Abuses Act with the effect that removing sitting TDs from office has largely only been possible in a general election (this also enabled the fabrications of the Charles Haughey-directed anti-Labour campaign in 1969). Although the Fianna Fáil-Green coalition government is facing electoral meltdown, the retirement of so many big hitters may deprive us of the obligatory Portillo moments that add some extra fun to the declarations.
However, given where they are polling, there will still be enough government TDs losing seats to keep even the most vindictive amused. As it stands, all the Greens may be gone with only Trevor Sargent being given a realistic chance of survival. So those who dislike na Glasraí should probably tune in to the Dublin South East declarations to see John Gormley’s personal exit, although Paul Gogarty may provide better dramatics.
On the Fianna Fáil benches there will no longer be a Haughey as the parliamentary dynasty is predicted to end with Charlie’s son Sean’s defeat in Dublin North Central. A number of the multi-portfolio ministers are also facing defeats, particularly Pat Carey, and it seems almost definite that at least one of Barry Andrews and Mary Hanafin will not be returned by the good burghers of Dun Laoghaire. Mary O’Rourke and her nephews are also believed to be in varying depths of trouble, while even the loss of Mary Coughlan in Donegal South West is not being ruled out.
If the systematic trashing of his election posters is anything to go by, Dick Roche, erstwhile minister for various things, is in trouble in Wicklow. To date, he’s had various changes added, such as variants on ‘IMF Traitor’, his head has been cut out from posters (Shillelagh), his ‘Vote No.1 Dick Roche’ modified to ‘Dick’ (along the N11 ), ‘Cock Roche’ (various) and more politely ‘Vote No Dick Roche’ (Greystones, of course) amongst others. If he loses, it probably will not be pretty.
What would be my personal favourite probably won’t happen. Willie O’Dea, a recent beneficiary of Lemass’s far-sighted electoral reform has been rumoured, on and off, to be at risk of getting the back of the Limerick electorate’s hand. I’m sure Sinn Féin’s Ard Comhairle might even trade 2 or 3 seats to see Maurice Quinlivan take the last seat ahead of O’Dea (no doubt the whole count centre may break into song).
With more electoral contests on the way in a couple of months, it may be time to shift attention back north and start guessing as to who may be watching this weekends counts with a bit of trepidation. At the same time, is any MLA of note at serious risk of losing their assembly seat???