Dublin and Labour in the bag Sinn Fein seeks to become Ireland’s new monorail…

Dublin resultsWhen I went to bed last night, I thought Eamon Ryan was home and hosed. Just but now, there’s a recount. The difference between second third and fourth place is tiny, so now there’s a recount.

It won’t change the major outline of the results, both in Europe and in the local authorities. Comparisons with UKIP don’t really cut it, given the depth and breadth of Sinn Fein’s displacement of Labour in the Irish capital.

Topping the poll by such a long way is the cream on the top of the real political pudding, which is the party’s emergence as the major party in Dublin City council.

MEP seats rarely turn into seats in the Dail. And if they do, it’s one at time. The real indicator of political change is at council level. 16 seats is primarily a promise of Sinn Fein dominance of Dublin seats in the next Dail Eireann.

Fianna Fail’s historically poor local elections (just below what they have now) that set them up for the whacking they got in 2011, this result will certainly set them up for gains.

And underneath that they’ve been working to develop stronger relations with some of the large unions like SIPTU where Labour was the prefered advocate at the big parliamentary table.

This is no flash in the pan. Sinn Fein are in Dublin to stay. And poor old Labour is already the new Democratic Left with their general election hammering still to come.

And for the very first time the party with 16 seats is in effective charge of the largest single municipality in the country, with senior leadership role in setting major corporate budgets for the city.

It’s a major shift, and a great opportunity to cut some serious governmental teeth in what is likely to be a bit of a political bear pit. It remains to be seen whether they replicate their policy of effectively cutting the rates in Belfast, or as pushing the envelope.

No details forthcoming yesterday from Mary Lou doesn’t mean they haven’t got a plan.

Ironically, the improving economy might just lessen some of the burden of austerity, and there were indications out on the campaign trail from Lynn Boylan that a cut in the rates is exactly the way the party will go.

They may calculate that having gutted Labour (or rather Labour having gutted themselves in government) they aren’t playing that self consciously leftist game any more.

They are, and always have been, only interested in one thing: becoming the new monorail of Irish politics. Dublin will be its constitutional baptism of fire…

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  • Jagdip

    Despite the unimpressive showing by SF in the NI local elections, they will be very pleased by the results in the South so far.

    Recent opinion polls have put SF at 17-23%. Some opinion polls have put SF on a par or 1% ahead of FF, but mostly they’re #3 after FG and FF.

    In the past SF has underperformed opinion polls because the “undecideds” have tended to plumb for other parties, and on the day, it has been more difficult to get SF supporters into the polling booths. For example, in Meath East last year, SF won just 13.02% of the votes when the opinion polls suggested 20%.

    So far, and we are still not finished:

    SF has run away with the Dublin MEP vote
    They topped the poll in Dublin West with 21% and look set to win a seat in GE2016. They were on odds of 7/1 before the by-election, and although they finished third after transfers, they will be pleased.
    In Longford-Westmeath, they came third with 15.4%, but again look set to take a seat in the 4-seat constituency in GE2016.
    In the locals, they have taken 16.2% of the seats (153 out of 914 with 35 to declare). That is up from 54 in 2009, and it reflects the lower end of opinion polls and also SF is attracting transfers.They will be very pleased; they were probably expectation-managing when they predicted a doubling of seats on Saturday (from 54 to 108).

    However, in the South, the government bizarrely brought new water charges to the fore in the weeks ahead of these elections, the government-overseen practice of withdrawing medical cards has been exposed a week before, there has been scandal-upon-scandal in the justice department with whistleblowers, penalty points, recording at Garda stations, bugging at the Garda Ombudsman, all overseen by an aloof p**ck of a (hardworking, reforming) minister, who, to top the cake with a cherry, cost the state a €70,000 golden handshake the day before the election because another minister had failed to sign a commencement order for a Bill stopping such payments.
    Add to this, it is mid-term, there has been an awful economic adjustment.
    There have been scandals in Health (Min Reilly and his primary health care centres and use of lottery cash, closing of hospital facilities, even those promised as safe by An Taoiseach, “abortion” legislation), Environment (the ramshackle introduction of the property tax), Culture (Irish language organisation head quit, the National Monument on Moore Street), Social Protection (cuts to disabled, U-turns), Education (increases to 3rd level fees despite promises, cutting special needs assistants and cuts to disadvantaged schools), Transport (cuts to subvention, bubbling rumours about malfeasance in award of contracts), Agriculture (handling of the horse meat scandal, cooperation with UK food authorities, and not a single prosecution), Energy (massive new pylons, windfarms, sale of Bord Gais, new broadcast charge) Foreign Affairs (bun fight with Vatican, use of Shannon by US military)

    Against this background, and the collapse of FF in 2010/2011, of course voters yearned for something different. SF seems to have had very impressive elections in the South, but, so too have independents/Others (pre-election opinion polling had put Independents/Others at 23-30%, the RTE exit poll suggests 33%, and, recount aside, Independent Nessa Childers has taken second Euro seat in Dublin, and the word on the street is Marian Harkin will take 3rd or 4th seat in MNW, and in South, Green or Independent is expected to take 4th seat instead of FG).

    HOWEVER, as environments go, this is as good as it gets for SF, the economy is stabilising, and we’re moving away from mid-term to pre-election.Can SF capitalise on the present showing in developing a state-wide structure, exploit the weaknesses of the government which has 2 more “austerity” budgets before 2016 and solidify the gains and grow. Or is it, as good as it gets.

  • the rich get richer

    Considering the poor quality of FF/FG/LABOUR Sinn Fein should actually be doing much better in the present circumstances.

    What to do about Gerry . Even if Sinn Fein could get Gerry to stand down what would they do with him .

    Perhaps Tony Blair could have a job for him as a Peace Envoy or something.

    Even if Sinn Fein get him to one side what do you do about Gerry.

  • Jagdip

    The latest indication on MEP seats in the South indicates that SF will take the 2nd seat in MNW, which means that SF will take three seats (the SF candidate in South looks like a dead cert and in Dublin, SF have already taken the seat, and won’t be affected by the recount)

    FG look like they won’t take the fourth seat in South, with Green and an Independent in pole position.

    Independent Marian Harkin is in a dogfight with FF (Pat Gallagher and Thomas Byne) in MNW but appears to have a slight edge. Depends on which FFer she ends up fighting with, if it’s Byrne, she will take it because Marian will get more transfers from Pat, if she’s fighting with Pat, it will be on a knife-edge.

    So, right now, looks like SF 3, FG 3, FF 1, Independent/Green 4 in the South, and overall, looks like SF 4, FG 3, Independent/Other 4, FF 1, DUP 1, UUP/TUV 1

    Still though, to stress, not a single count in two of the constituencies, and the experience of the Dublin count suggests caution is the order of the day.

  • RDME

    @the rich get richer

    Please tell me you’re joking. A party triples its representation and you’re calling for a new leader? Simply isn’t going to happen. They’ll have a new leader soon enough, but it won’t have anything to do with electoral performance.

    The target was 130-150 seats in the south and they’re currently on 153; and if you take a more detailed look, you’ll see that transfers carried them across the line in many places, while in others they had enough quotas to take more seats than they had candidates.

    SF have a lot of room for growth, regardless of what certain people think of Gerry Adams, and that’s before the coming FFG coalition is factored in.

  • carnmoney.guy

    RDME – I agree, the arrest of Gerry Adams was the very worst political mud that you could throw, yet no one is interested, the North is now settled and the voters in the don’t see SF as toxic, in fact they speak for them against austerity and the fat cat parties who were in league with bankers, developers et al

    The performance is the North was great, why?
    Because the best election talent was deployed in the South, they took a risk promoting the second string of election organiser, who now have greater experience

    SF are not in government, so they can claim credit for any FG relaxing of austerity, yet still beat the drum against the harshest parts that are playing out.

    This would suggest that SF in the North are going to play hard ball over the cuts, they cant be seen to be rubber stamping Tory austerity while fighting against them in the South – as the assembly is dysfunctional, i predict a really hot summer, could see a SF generated crisis looming, bringing it to the brink to get a deal out of London.
    Wouldn’t surprise me if new money if found, say diverted from roads that weren’t built, to placate us.
    Sf might do a deal with DUP so they can take some of the credit, watch for a change of emphasis from Simon Hamilton, going to get a new deal from the Treasury

  • RDME

    @carnmoney.guy

    “The performance is the North was great, why? Because the best election talent was deployed in the South, they took a risk promoting the second string of election organiser, who now have greater experience”

    I think there are very important lessons for SF to be learned from this election, notable as it is for being their first election as serious political contenders north and south.

    The main lesson they should take away from this is that the message of ‘a revolution in politics’, with a raft of new candidates and offering an alternative to what the main competitors were offering, successfully put across by SF in the south while proving to be a damp squib for NI21 in the north (mostly due to vagary, lack of substance, infighting and political ineptitude), is something that needs to happen in the north if SF are to become the 30-40% force they can be.

    While it would be stupid to get rid of Gerry Adams after such a victory, I think SF should be planning a detoxification of brand in the north, timed to coincide with Adams’ retirement. A passing of the baton from the ‘veterans’ to a new, confident generation of nationalists with no baggage and a more concise message about the benefits leaving the UK would have for all. Our rights have been secured, there’s no need for antagonism

  • http://www.organizedrage.com/ Mickhall

    “Even if Sinn Fein get him to one side what do you do about Gerry.”

    Please, that is so, last week, last month, last year and last decade, people need to get it into their heads people north and south except Adams was in the PIRA and they do not believe it should bar him from high office. How could it ever have when the southern state was built on such foundations. Get over it and deal with SF’s platform.

    Myself I do not feel SF should cut rates, as it would be more of the rush to the bottom. What they need to do to prove they are worthy of national government, and this could mean increasing the rates slightly, they need to show they can improve services in Dublin not cut them further.

    If they cannot achieve this they need to through the municipal books open and show central government is to blame.

  • Jagdip

    Ireland South MEP 1st count
    SF win 19.1% of vote, but with 125,309 are just short of the 131,500 quota. Likely to win the 2nd seat (3rd seat likely to go to FG. There’ll be dogfight for 4th seat between 2 FGers, Green and Independent)

    SF will be very pleased at the result.

    Independents/Others won just 16.5% in Ireland South, but it’s a funny constituency with FF’s Brian Crowley romping home in 1st place with 180,329 1st preferences. His distancing from FF during the campaign with little linkage with the FF brand was widely commented on. He may be the only FF MEP after these elections.

  • Mick Fealty

    Gerry is not a PR problem. His past is priced in, as was his arrest. The point is the party is now in senior office, and should pick up invaluable government experience.

    They aren’t going away you know… But the road ahead will start getting much tougher now they have some actual responsibilities to dispatch…

  • Greenflag

    The Irish Labour Party is looking for a new leader not SF .
    Gilmore is gone oh dear ?

  • Greenflag

    ”and should pick up invaluable government experience.

    As long as it’s not one years experience followed by 20 years of making the same mistakes like the previous incumbents .

    Their experience in NI will be of little benefit to the challenge in the Republic .

  • http://www.organizedrage.com/ Mickhall

    That will two left of center parties Gilmore has played a part in ruining, the Workers’ Party and now Labour, if I were a more suspicious fellow I might be wondering who is pulling his chain.

  • Zeno

    “Despite the unimpressive showing by SF in the NI local elections, they will be very pleased by the results in the South so far.”

    JAG
    They were impressive in the South but appear to have plateaued in the North.
    Andersons wins easily as expected but with a slightly reduced % of the vote.
    Their vote % was also down in the Local Elections and they had over 12.000 votes less than last time even though the electorate had increased by 147,000.
    How else would you explain that other than stagnation?
    It’s like SFNI and SF ROI are two different parties.

  • weidm7

    Now that they’re the biggest party in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Derry and I think Galway, it’ll be interesting to see how they push the all-Ireland agenda and if they’ll actually do anything to bring our people together and promote the Irish language (they haven’t done much up north so far) or whether it’ll be all lip service and inaction like the last 90 years of the Free State.

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    They’re not the biggest party in Cork or Galway.
    And it’s Derry-Strabane council: definitely the biggest party from Sperrin area (north-west Tyrone), not sure about Derry city.