Opposition still failing to land a glove on Fianna Fail…

Interestingly the Sunday Business Post and Irish Times polls have come out on the same weekend. The not unexpected finding in both is that Bertie’s profile has taken a pounding (with everyone but those in his own party, who retain their faith). Overall however, the party figures have barely changed in the Irish Times, and the SBP shows a four per cent rise in Fianna Fail (still leaving them six points below last May’s showing in the General Election according to the SBP poll) and a three per cent drop in Labour. One bright patch for Sinn Fein suggests their core vote in the country is holding up (both polls show an increase of 2%).The apparent lack of further progress on the part of Opposition parties Fianna Fail is blaming on negative campaigning by Labour and Fine Gael. Vincent Browne is sceptical that the polls reflect anything significant at all. With another general election likely about 2012, what voters think now may not matter in terms of the next government.

Polls aside, that election will provide more exact proof of where the land lies will be the locals in May 2009. Back then, the Opposition parties made relatively large gains in seats, even, as in Fine Gael and Labour’s case, on a minute percentage swing. Fianna Fail, took a massive hammering that time out with the loss of some 80 seats, many of which, on this showing the may be well positioned to take back.

In the absence of a more structured opposition, much, as Cian notes will rest on future events:

it is more likely that this will continue up to the middle of Spring at least (until the Mahon begins to wind up public hearings) and as a result prevent the government from action on the economy, transport and the other issues mentioned above and on top of that a campaign for the ratification of the EU Treaty.

Until then, possession remains nine tenths of Fianna Fail’s (and everyone else’s) law…

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  • Éireannach Saolta

    Bertie mightnt be my favourite politician but just look at the jokers FG and Labour are made up of. The problem is that there is no real alternative to FF, not unless John Bruton was to return to politics as FG leader. Enda doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence. Just look at who he appoints to shaddow ministry posts a miniter for the Gaeltacht that couldn’t even speak irish when a reporter from rang him up. Thats just an example that comes to mind. Whether or not Bertie is corrupt under his stewardship the Republic has seen enormous economic growth and a huge increase in selfconfidence amongst Irish people

  • Éireannach Saolta

    newstalk
    sorry link is just to the radiostation not to the reporter

  • Dinny McGinley- from an Bun Beag in Gaoth Dobhair- is our shadow deputy spokesperson on the Gaeltacht.

    Michael Ring plans on going to Irish classes and its worth nothing that Síle de Valera was the FF minister in the department between 1997-2002 and she didn’t have Irish.

  • George

    Enda Kenny is a man who was on a 30-year career break from teaching and only resigned a while back.

    Hardly the type of ambitious type you want to run your country and, even worse, he denied a full-time post to someone else.

    Before the last election it was obvious that the electorate wouldn’t trust a man who is around 60 but still has little to no decent ministerial experience.

    If Fine Gael persist with him until 2012 they will lose.

  • Greenflag

    Correct assessment 🙂 There is no alternative ‘leader’ . Kenny is a nice chap but seen as ‘lightweight’. Gilmore sounds off as an ubermoralistic sanctimonious ideologue . John Bruton certainly had more ‘bottle’ but his ‘tax on childrens shoes ‘ fiasco would be dragged out of the woodwork as indicative of his failure to read the popular mood . Garret Fitzgerald was in retrospect a once off for the alternative opposition . Ivan Yates would have been a better choice than Kenny .

    Another factor in all of this is the increasing ‘sophistication’ of the Republic’s voters . There is IMO a new voter emerging in ROI who has much less party affiliation than earlier generations and who looks somewhat dispassionately at whats on offer . Call them FF lite if you will. These are people who are quite capable of being ‘unbelievers’ in Bertie’s explanation of his financial goings on and yet at the same time will vote for FF on the basis of the country needing a goverment with a leader who can deliver stability . They also know that when the time comes to replace Bertie FF have a few top notch replacements in the wings , Cowan, Martin, Lenehan come to mind.

    ‘a huge increase in selfconfidence amongst Irish people ‘

    This is a natural result of relative economic success over the past couple of decades -best exemplified in the now ‘old ‘ joke re the Kerryman .

    Question:

    ‘What do you call a Kerryman with an inferiority complex ?’

    Answer:

    ‘Somebody who thinks everybody else is as good as himself’

  • Eireannach Saolta

    Darren, Ó Cuív is perhaps the best (or at least hes up there with the best) minister for the Gaeltacht . He actually seems to be doing something about gaeltacht issues. Admittedly Síle never should have got the job but Ó Cuív is doing a good job

  • JD

    I’m not a Fine Gaeler and I’m no fan of Kenny but people should consider the following:

    Not only did Kenny save FG from the near death experience of 2002, FG beat Fianna Fail in the last European Elections and came within a whisker of overtaking FF as the largest party in local government.

    Fine Gael are now in polling terms not operating from the field of 22-23% striking towards 27-28% (as they had been since the late 80s) but are based in the 27-28% range striking towards the 31-32% mark.

    This guy doesn’t do sprints – he’s running a marathon. For the first time Bertie is more unpopular than the leader of Fine Gael – a very significant milestone compared to the last 10 years. He’s no intellect but Enda Kenny is a formiddable campaigner with a sunny outlook.

    Shorn of the PDs (which are effectively dead) Fianna Fail have lost an effective weapon against the underbelly of Fine Gael. Fine Gael meanwhile are now in a position to recover a small but very significant party of what was their natural constituency. This puts Fine Gael on a more solid footing and a capacity to operate within the 30-35% level in elections – something that has not been the case since the 70s & 80s.

    Don’t underestimate Fine Gael and don’t underestimate Kenny.

  • George

    JD,
    I don’t know where you got your figures from. Kenny returned a vote in 2007 that was lower than the Fine Gael vote in 1997 when Ahern won his first election.

    Add to that they are a full 10% less than they were 25 years ago.

    It was clear before the election that Kenny didn’t have what it takes for the electorate to make him Taoiseach and five years later he will still be as inexperienced – except five years older.

    It’s no point having Kenny running marathons when politics is in reality a series of sprints.

    As for being more popular than Ahern, he is still 11 points lower than Cowen.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Kenny didnt have the balls to challenge Berty after his crying act on RTE. Berty’s explanations were totally unbelievable – a minister for finance who kept his money in brown paper bags? This is father Ted territory. The electorate were not so much ‘sophisticated’ more uninterested in the ethics of their leading politician lining his pockets. Sleaze under the Tories ( or Tory Light with new Labour ) were nothing on the quarefellahs – and would not have been tolerated in Britian. Any European league table on corruption in last 20 years would have ROI firmly at the top. The alternatives FG, Labour, Green, SF all had issues but were surely preferable to the bunch of corrupt shisters that got in. The Irish electorate turned in a shocker.

  • George

    2007 corruption index from Transparency International of 185 countries: Least corrupt at the top:

    1 Denmark
    Finland
    New Zealand
    4 Singapore
    Sweden
    6 Iceland
    7 Netherlands
    Switzerland
    9 Canada
    Norway
    11 Australia
    12 Luxembourg
    United Kingdom
    14 Hong Kong
    15 Austria
    16 Germany
    17 Ireland
    Japan
    19 France
    20 USA

    http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2007

  • An Lochlannach

    This is shocking news for the Labour Party. To borrow a cliché from the world of soccer, changing your manager won’t always bring about a change of fortune. Many commentators thought that Rabbitte had too much anger and sarcasm to be appealing to the electorate. I always thought that to be harsh (there’s plenty to be angry and sarcastic about, after all) but it’s true in Gilmore’s case. He always seems to be calling for Ministers to resign, not realising that the impact of such demands is diminished each time. He’s left looking rather silly – the ten stone weakling spoiling for a fight at closing time. It’s hard to know what’s best for Labour. They ally themselves with Fine Gael and get nowhere. They go their own way and get nowhere.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    George,

    ROI looks quite respectable in that table and seems to be based on the country’s own perception of itself. I was thinking of a simpler index based on number of governement ministers in prison, those with tax irregularities or forced to reisgn for improper financial dealings.

    Presumably, if the above critieria were employed since Charlie came to power FF would be European champions.

  • George

    It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it,
    do you honestly believe Ireland is worse than other countries.

    Take Britain for example. What about the Serious Fraud Squad being prevented from investigating the £76bn agreement with Saudi Arabia for Eurofighter Typhoons because the Saudis threatened to hand the contract to France? They were investigating allegations of bribery that were allegedly being carried out with the full knowledge of the Ministry for Defence.

    But we will never know because the government pulled the plug.

    Payments for parliamentary questions?

    Or how about Britain’s anti-sleaze watchdog Sir Alistair Graham being sacked from his post last year by Tony Blair for being too critical of the Government and a certain Mr. Prescott in particular?

    Then there’s cash for honours, Lord Levy being arrested by police on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

    Or how about the 2006 police investigation in Sunderland into how £2 million of taxpayers’ money found its way directly into Labour Party coffers?

    Do the names Neil Hamilton, Peter Hain, Patricia Hewitt, David Blunkett, Peter Mandleson or Geoffrey Robinson ring a bell?

    Then there was the investigations into Keith Vaz, John Reid and of course John Major not declaring his money from lecture appearances,

    By the way, the Tribunal isn’t investigating Ahern for corruption but don’t let facts get in the way.

    Irish democracy is no more corrupt than other European democracies.

    Having said all that, Kenny still will never make Taoiseach.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    George

    “By the way, the Tribunal isn’t investigating Ahern for corruption but don’t let facts get in the way.”

    Corruption is the only logical conclcusion in the absence of credible explanations of what the feck he was up to. Not even the gullible Irish electorate believe him now.

    “Irish democracy is no more corrupt than other European democracies.”

    Charlie Haughey would spin in his grave at such an outrageous sugggestion. Have you no respect for his work and his leagacy?

    If Berty was running the local footaball club and couldnt explain a) Why he had signed cheques which were not for the benefit of the club or b) why he had trousered the money meant for the club – he would be kicked out. That is the fecker the Irish elctorate didnt choose to run a football club but to run the country. Those high up in FF who decided to ignore Berty’s ‘lapses’ are now well and truly implicated in his misdeeds having helped to con the country into putting him back into power.

  • dewi

    Sile de Valera did not speak Irish????? Why ever not?

  • Mick Fealty

    George,

    Look back at the last time that FF had no coalition partners (unless you count FG keeping them in office) in 1987. FG had 50 seats. Now they have 51. It’s true that they had 54 seats in 92, which combined with a strong Labour showing meant they could take over when Labour swapped allegiance. But re seats, the party is in as good a position as it has been in period after the demise of the FitzGerald government of ’82, when it accumulated a massive 70 seats.

    Some of their problem is that they live off massively fluctuating swings, whilst FF excels at ‘keeping the base steady’… It may have slumped to the point where it can no longer rely on that base to deliver a working majority in the Dail, but it is a lot more reliable than anyone else’s base.

    Kenny has given the party a bounce. But I would question whether he has given his party a clear enough focus to be able to offer the electorate an alternative government. Betting on a future FF implosion is a very forlorn long shot.

  • The Dubliner

    George, the Transparency Index is an unreliable indicator of corruption in the Irish political context because it is a qualitative rather than a quantitative measurement: it measures the degree to which a country’s political system is perceived by the public to be corrupt. In Ireland, the subjective perception of political corruption is far greater than its objective reality due to the distortive nature that Tribunals play in keeping allegations of political corruption in the media, irrespective of any supporting evidence. In effect, the Tribunals serve to undermine Irish national interests by creating the false impression that Ireland is a politically corrupt country, wherein bribes are required to be offered to government officials by foreign investors in order for them to do business here, thereby deterring them from investing here and serving to undermine local business confidence in government. The reality, of course, is objectively otherwise. A tiny percentage of Irish politicians (much smaller than the UK) who have operated at national government level have been shown to be unethical, and none of them has been shown to have benefited from abusing their office, so technically, known of them have even been shown to be corrupt. At local government level, there is corruption by some local councillors in the planning process. However, local government should not be confused with national government. In Ireland, a deliberate attempt is made by the agenda-laden media to obfuscate them, thereby further increasing the perception of corruption to a level that is not supported by reality.

  • The Dubliner

    Just to add that the British media does not make a deliberate attempt obfuscate corruption by local government elected representatives with corruption by members of national government or members of parliament. If it did, there would be widespread perception among the public that the political system is corrupt. This obfuscation only occurs in the Irish media, wherein it is deployed to serve an ulterior agenda that is counterproductive to Irish national interests.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dubliner,

    “the Transparency Index is an unreliable indicator of corruption in the Irish political context” but not “because it is a qualitative rather than a quantitative measurement” but because it is a reflection of an electorate’s view that could put anybody like Berty back into office.

    Very few actually believe him but standards are now so low in Irish political life that the honesty of its politicans is not a crucial factor in how they vote or perhaps something they even notice. The idea that ‘stroke’ politicans that have plagued FF for decades can be found elsewhere in Europe is self-serving nonsense.

    Only in Ireland could the antics of someone like Haughey as Prime Minister be fondly described as those of a ‘cute hoor’, or could Berty go on the telly and hide behind his broken marriage to try and deflect attention from his unanswered financial questions. This is political pantomime as its worst.

    Although no great fan of British politicians it is is quite clear that the sub-standard cowboys offered up by the electoral system here would be torn apart in 10 minutes in the House of Commons.

  • George

    Mick,
    I don’t believe that Fine Gael’s return to its previous position as the major second party is down to any brilliance on the part of Kenny.

    But as you say, there was no focus on offering an alternative. All the electorate was asked to do was vote for change for change’s sake. Economically everything would have continued as was.

    For all intents and purposes, FG set their stall out to get the approximately 50 anti-FF seats up for grabs in every Dáil election. And they succeeded.

    I grew up in a constituency (Dún Laoghaire) that had 3 out of five FG TDs in the 80s and in 2002 had none. Now they have one. In the 80s FG offered a real alternative, in many ways an alternative that was carried on by the PDs in the 90s. In that time, Labour have fought it out with FF to be the party of the public service.

    In 2002, FF had been in power for 12 years and many people were crying out for a viable alternative but none was on offer.

    Kenny reminds me of Kinnock in 2002. People wanted rid of the Tories but didn’t trust Labour. Except he doesn’t even have Kinnock’s ability.

    Kenny will be a liabilty to FG going into the next Dáil election if he is still at the helm.

    Dubliner,
    I too am always amazed at the obsession that the Irish State is somehow a more corrupt entity than other western democracies.

  • Crataegus

    George

    Kenny reminds me of Kinnock in 2002.

    There is something in that and I also feel the problem is that FG are not offering a clear and coherent alternative. There is something lacking, focus, clarity, decisiveness? There seems to be an inability to convey a position effectively.

    They also seem utterly unable to inflict real damage on FF despite the numerous opportunities. They seem all over the placed, attacking Greens or PDs trying to peel them off but surely this is ill considered as the Greens in particular would probably support FG if the numbers were right? Attacking potential allies instead of focusing on FF just cannot be right.

  • IJP

    Does this not all come down to narrative and vision?

    Fine Gael does not offer a significantly different vision of Irish society. What would FG do that FF doesn’t do? Yes, maybe they wouldn’t get caught driving the wrong way down the N7, pocketing £40K or opposing their own Government while Minister for Defence, but fundamentally, how would the outcome of a FG-led Government be any different?

    It’s a little like, North of the border, the ongoing zig-zag politics of the Ulster Unionists. A half-decent media would already have leapt upon the nonsense that they “may support the budget” – they’re in the Government, they have to support the budget!

    Alternatively, they have to leave the Government, something a lot of grand-sounding people suggest would be a good idea “because then we’d have an opposition”. But an opposition to what, exactly? In what way is the Ulster Unionists’ vision of Northern Ireland fundamentally different from the DUP’s? Actually, the Ulster Unionists are just a lighter, less in-your-face version.

    And back south of the border, we can so cast FG in the role of Ulster Unionists and FF in the role of the DUP. Yes, they’re probably a bit nicer, they may be a wee bit less corrupt, but fundamentally they don’t offer anything different.

    And indeed, in the end, it’s usually the nasty, corrupt, in-your-face guys who provide the real leadership – and voters like leadership.

  • Oiliféar

    Kenny might not be the dynamic hard-hitter we’d all wish him to be. In fact, he might be the very antipathy of what we’d all like to see: a brutally intelligent, cut-to-the quick, cut-Bertie-down-to-size power house that eats Fianna Fáilers for breakfast. But come off it – that’s never been what Fine Gael are about, and ten years on we have to admit that that’s not going to catch the man Haughey called the craftiest of them all.

    Yet an objective look at Fine Gael shows that whatever Kenny’s doing, it’s working (and maybe he’s doing nothing, but if so keep it up). For all the bluster we hear from government bench fillers, FG/Lab came within a hair’s breadth of winning the last election, snatched back from the jaws of death that they found themselves in following the previous turn-out. Now, if an election was held tomorrow, on these polls, Fianna Fáil would be sitting in the opposition benches. That’s remarkable. Half the county buys the Fine Gael line that Bertie should go over Mahon. That’s remarkable. Bertie is less popular than Kenny. Now that really is remarkable!

    I don’t know what he’s doing. You’re right, Mick, he doesn’t appear to be landing any punches. Maybe that’s the trick. Is he just exhausting them? God knows, it’s exhausting for me just to listen to him everyday repeat the same issue again and again like a broken bloody record. For a while he looked foolish, but Fianna Fáil kept answering. For months all we’ve heard is Bertie-Scandal-Bertie-Scandal-Bertie-Scandal-… I can’t hear Fine Gael speak anymore. I can’t hear Fianna Fáil answer anymore. No matter who’s talking I just hear the same thing: Bertie-Scandal-Bertie-Scandal-Bertie-Scandal-… Is that the trick? Is Kenny not interested in promoting Fine Gael like we all expected? Is he not interested in attacking Fianna Fáil like we all dreamed? Is he just about exhausting us all with the constant crying of Bertie-Scandal-Bertie-Scandal-Bertie-Scandal-.. until we all realise the only way to shut them up is to vote Fine Gael and be damned with it? That’s no way to win friends, it’s no way to look clever, but it may well be more effective than the “contract”?

    (And forget BIFFO. He’s never going to be Taoiseach! That’s all a cod.)

  • Crataegus

    But FF will ditch Bertie before the next election if he is seen as a liability? I an not so sure Bertie=scandal is the way to win. I think you need to show a clear ability in Health, Education and on the Economy. The problem is wider than Kenny.

  • The Dubliner

    “Very few actually believe him but standards are now so low in Irish political life that the honesty of its politicans is not a crucial factor in how they vote or perhaps something they even notice. The idea that ‘stroke’ politicans that have plagued FF for decades can be found elsewhere in Europe is self-serving nonsense.” – It was sammy

    I’m partial to a good rant myself, but, unlike you, I tend to base them on facts rather than flights of self-serving fantasy. If you’re looking for corruption, look here.

    “…until we all realise the only way to shut them up is to vote Fine Gael and be damned with it?” – Oilifar

    Gee, it that is considered by many to be a valid criteria for choosing a government, then I may have to reconsider my opposition to the idea of linking the right to vote to a mandatory IQ test in order to protect society from its idiots.

    Rather than practicing some bizarre form of ‘damnation’ politics, you might try looking at how disastrously Fine Gael performed the last time they served a full term in government with the utterly incompetent Garret Fitzgerald as Taoiseach. The country was so ruined after their 4-year stint in office ended in 1987 that it required a National Recovery Plan to protect it from bankruptcy. They more than doubled the national debt, raising it to a staggering 122% of GNP. Unemployment went up to 23% and was actually higher but not recorded because Fine Gael encouraged 50,000 Irish citizens per year to leave their own country as a ‘safety valve’ to keep the dole line shorter. Interests rates skyrocketed, and income taxes rose to a top rate of 65% and a standard rate of 35%, with corporation tax standing at 50%. And these utter imbeciles managed to achieve that staggering level of economic, social and cultural ruin in just 4-years – a far shorter period of time than it took the British to bring Ireland to its knees. No wonder the ‘Irish’ media loved Bruton and Fitzgerald. John Bruton, as Minister for Finance, should have been horsewhipped from one end of the country to the other for the misery that he and his idiotic cohorts in Fine Gael inflicted on the nation.

    Today, under decades of prudent FF fiscal management we have minimal unemployment; low tax rates; the second highest GDP per capita in the world; more millionaires per capita than any other country except Japan; have gone from having the weakest and most terminally ill economy in Europe under Fine Gael to having the strongest economy in Europe under FF, and have gone from emigration to net immigration. We have in FF, the world’s most successful government – and that ‘hyperbole’ is verifiable fact. The free market economic reforms and policies that FF have devised have rocketed us to the top of the world’s ‘freest’ societies. These was real successes. If it wasn’t for FF, you’d be driving around Dublin in a 15-year-old Ford Cortina looking for a steady job – which is the dismal condition that the last Fine Gael government put the nation into.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dubliner,

    Are you seriously telling me that a British Chancellor of the Exchequer who was under suspicion for tax evasion, and improper collection of money from businessmen, could stand up in the House of Commons and say he carried money round in bags and didn’t have a bank account – without being laughed out of the house?

  • Oiliféar

    Dubliner, I would have attributed the impetuous for reforms to Fine Gael and the good sense to continue them post-1987 to Fianna Fáil – despite opposing them while in opposition and being largely responsible for the excessive and misguided public spending of the pre-1982 era that caused the crisis. Pre-1982, Fianna Fáil made the right noises – tightening our belts, living within our means, etc. – but didn’t have the will/courage/discipline to see through on it. Gvernment spending expanded unabated, taxes went up instead of down, and there was no imagination for how to get ourselves out of the problem that we had put ourselves in.

    I also don’t know where you’re getting your figures from. To my memory, it was Brian Lenihan that proposed paying young people to emigrate on condition that they would never return (in his own words: “We can’t all live on a small island.”). The national debt rose from 104% to 125% under Fine Gael, not doubled as you claimed. The “doubling” comes in when you factor the Fianna Fáil contribution into that – doubling from 75% when Fianna Fáil too power from the National Coalition in 1977. The highest unemployment under Fine Gael was 16.8%, not 23% as you imagine, and not such a hot deal considering the 13.9% rate Fianna Fáil handed them when they took office. The highest old top rate of tax (whether under FF or FG) was 58%, not 65% as you say. The 10% rate of corporation tax was introduced in 1980, not post-1987 as you seem to believe.

    The Program for National Recovery was devised under the Fine Gael administration – opposed at the time by Fianna Fáil, but then actually implemented by them post-1987. It built on The Way Forward, the Fine Gael policy that sought to undo the damage done by Fianna Fáil in the late ’70s by increasing cost-competitiveness and cutting government expenditure. Fianna Fáil used it as a scare tactic in the 1987 election, warning the electorate that Fine Gael planned more cuts in expenditure and – heaven forbid! – to reduce taxes, which would work us all into the ground and bankrupt the country they said. Thankfully they had the good sense to not to return to their pre-1982 days on getting back into office, and carried on the stellar work of Fine Gael 1982-87 from 1987 onwards.

  • JG

    If Peter Mandleson made it to Chancellor of the Exchequer …..

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    JG,

    a key difference here is that P. Mandelson actually resigned – Berty opted to drag his family misfortune into the limelight to AVOID resignation.

  • JD

    “Kenny reminds me of Kinnock in 2002. People wanted rid of the Tories but didn’t trust Labour. Except he doesn’t even have Kinnock’s ability. ”

    George

    I wouldn’t disagree with the above – but my point still stands – don’t under estimate FG and don’t underestimate Kenny.

    I never claimed FG had returned to the dizzy heights of 1982 with 39% of the vote – but the polls since 1987 (in fact since the PDs were set up in ’86) showed FG scoring in general between 22-28%. They scored just under 28% at the general election but polls are beginning show them operating in the field of 28-32%. That has not been the case since the 1980s and would have been the norm prior to that time.

    I’m not a fan of Electric Enda’s bland, populist and in a number of instances down right reactionary policies. But whatever he is (or is not) doing the trend is heading in the right direction.

    To be sure he doesn’t do sprints like Pat Rabbitte or Dick Spring – and that can be decisive in the heat of an election contest, but it is a slow steady solid build.

    Fine Gael won’t return to the high of Garret’s 39% in 1982, but they could with 30-31% in a local election scenario overtake Fianna Fail in local government. No PDs and a well funded united party makes that a distinct policy.

    He may well be Neil Kinnock – but don’t underestimate him

  • JD

    THAT SHOULD READ:

    Fine Gael won’t return to the high of Garret’s 39% in 1982, but they could with 30-31% in a local election scenario overtake Fianna Fail in local government. No PDs and a well funded united party makes that a distinct possibility – the stagnation of smaller parties (Labour & SF) makes the choice ever more FF V FG – perhaps this ain’t Kenny’s work but FG are now operating within a more favourable dynamic then the fragmentation of the party system since the 1980s

    He may well be Neil Kinnock – but don’t underestimate him

  • The Dubliner

    “I also don’t know where you’re getting your figures from. To my memory, it was Brian Lenihan that proposed paying young people to emigrate on condition that they would never return (in his own words: “We can’t all live on a small island.”). The national debt rose from 104% to 125% under Fine Gael, not doubled as you claimed.”

    My figures come from official sources, rather than the magician’s hat that you are pulling your sources from:

    1982 – 14,816

    1983 – 18,274

    1984 – 21,358

    1985 – 23,492

    1986 – 27,440

    1987 – 30,085

    Do the math: the national debt more than doubled from 14,816m in 1982 when Fine Gael entered government to 30,085m in 1987 when Fine Gael exited government. 50,000 people per year emitgrated from Ireland during Fine Gaels five year term – the highest level since the famine. The rest of your ‘facts’ have fluffy white ears attached to them.

    http://www.budget.gov.ie/2002/tables03.asp

  • The Dubliner
  • Oiliféar

    Doubliner, you’re a funny man.

    You wrote: “They more than doubled the national debt, raising it to a staggering 122% of GNP.”

    My source was also from the official figures. Difference is, I can read a table. See the column labeled “% of GNP”.

    Unless, you’re saying that Fine Gael raised GNP during their tenure in office … and you want me to believe that that’s a bad thing? Funny, funny man.

    “50,000 people per year emitgrated from Ireland during Fine Gaels five year term – the highest level since the famine.”

    No doubt. Chased away by the hair-brained schemes that near bankrupted the country under Fianna Fáil from the late seventies. What do you want? A magical wand? It took hard graft to undo the damage done by FF in the years 1977-82. That kind of damage can’t be undone over night and the people of Ireland paid dearly for it.

    What was Fianna Fáil’s proposal to combat the hemorrhage of youth and intelligence that they had let loose? Oh, yeah … they would have had that we pay them to go and never come back! Nice.