Will Donegal create the bounce for Ireland’s Green Tea Party?

Mark  is entitled to be pleased. But Donegal is only the sparring match. The stakes have now raised to a critical high for the main bout.  If Sinn Fein can’t win big in the general election, they never will.  The Donegal sideshow was in some respects, a gift.  A blatant gerrymander in delaying the by election by 17 months, the appeal of the “burn the bondholders ”  populist shout, a personable well-gelled young candidate with a good community record, I understand all that. Even in the radically different atmosphere of the 2007 general election Pearse Doherty was breathing down Fine Gael’s  neck on a higher turnout. Was his smash win mainly down to effective community politics in an area largely left behind by the Tiger? Will the residual  appeal of primitive nationalism in the border counties give Sinn Fein a big enough bounce to make some kind of breakthrough on the national stage? Am I alone in my surprise that Fianna Fail didn’t fare even worse? Is the Telegraph’s vox pop typical? These are genuine questions.

One young woman shopping in Donegal Town, who did not want to be named, said she was voting for Sinn Fein despite opposition from her parents who associate the party with the IRA and violent conflict across the border in Northern Ireland. “Things have got to change,” she said.

In the coming weeks or months, will voters think ( wrongly) they have little left to lose and vote in numbers for an Irish Tea Party with attitude?  Will SF remain the  caucus of the growing numbers of  dispossessed or lead a people’s revolt against the bankers’ ramp? They will now have to explain what they would do if they held the balance of power in the next Dail. Mere opposition will be irrelevant. Perhaps it takes the perspective of the Wall St Journal to set the scene.

Sinn Fein is the only party to oppose a push to get Ireland’s deficit to 3% of gross domestic product by 2014. With Fine Gael and the Irish Labour Party supporting the need to consolidate the public finances, this stance may help Sinn Fein lure voters next year who feel they aren’t being offered a real alternative to years of cuts and tax rises by the main parties.

“I think we will get a bounce out of this,” said Pearse Doherty, Sinn Fein’s victorious candidate in Donegal in an interview Thursday, ahead of the poll. “More and more people are coming to us and agreeing with our point of view.”

Others aren’t convinced. David Farrell, head of politics and international relations at University College Dublin, said the party’s economic policies are viewed as unrealistic. He added that its win in Donegal reflects a greater sympathy for the party in counties bordering Northern Ireland than exists elsewhere on the island

Smaller parties such as Sinn Fein are gaining ground collectively, however. In the 1980s, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael between them received roughly 90% of the vote but recent local elections indicate that their share is falling to closer to 50%, with Labour, Sinn Fein, the Green Party and a smattering of smaller groups and independents holding the rest.


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  • Mark McGregor

    Pleased? Me? wtf are you talking about?

    I was very deliberately presenting a good news story for SF as just that, a good news story for SF, before Slugger spinners got their hands on it.

    It doesn’t ‘please’ me in the slightest – SF doing well while it continues to drop everything I believe in actually disappoints me. The result was still fantastic for them.

  • Is Doherty a Connolly-style socialist in his desire for a ‘united socialist Ireland‘? [youtube]

    He wants to see an end to ‘corruption, cronyism, golden handshakes and greed’. Cronyism? That might make our Minister for Regional Development, a party colleague, feel a bit queasy 😉

  • I suspect that ‘National Populist’ would be a better description of SF than ‘Tea Party’ Brian?

    It’s going to be interesting to see how much ‘national populism’ emerges throughout Europe over the next couple of years – particularly in the PIGS. It’s a sort of counterweight to the Fortuynist populism that’s replacing political parties elsewhere. I suppose I’d prefer the former to the latter.

  • Mark, it would appear that Brian hasn’t adjusted to the MMG Mk2 model!!

  • Considering Adams predilection for tree-hugging perhaps a ‘Green Tea’ party could bring economic health benefits to the Irish state.

  • pippakin

    The American TEA party movement is right of centre conservative. Are SF right of centre these days because they are not socialist…

  • pippakin, many parties are quite broad but I wouldn’t think there are many SFers who adhere to a ‘taxed enough already’ philosophy.

    I liked the quip I saw earlier today: “You’re FFired”.

  • MichaelMac

    Perhaps Dave Fareel could have given us an indication of who are those people that view SF policies as unrealistic. I would wager they are not too far from those economic experts who stayed stum while the economy was based on an inflationary property boom.

    The ESRI agree with SF on the economy.

  • pippakin


    I know what SF say they are…

    and I liked the ‘you’re FFired quip too! but they did better than I expected. Its depressing what some people will tolerate for the sake of the party.

  • pippakin, apart from McBrearty, the result was in step with the ballot paper. 😉

  • percy

    the troubling thing for the establishment parties MM is that now the analysis coming from the experts is that ireland cannot afford the bail-out.

    SF have it right, maybe for the wrong reason.
    whereas FF/FG have it wrong, for the right reason ..

    Game on .. its SF to lose this next GE..

  • pippakin

    Labour must distance themselves from this appalling budget and plan. It cannot be done, the rate: http://t.co/6y8n9vL
    is said to be 6.7% which makes it worse.

  • Rory Carr

    If Labour do not “distance themselves from this appalling budget and plan”, Pippakin, what will you do? Will you still vote Labour in the forthcoming general election? Are you as firmly wedded to Labour as 20% of the Donegal SW electorate are to Fíanna Fáil ?

  • Mick Fealty

    What, we have to give post modern irony tags out now?

  • pippakin

    Rory Carr

    What will I do? I will scweam and scweam and scweam! and then I will vote Labour.

    The alternative would be FF (family tradition) and that is out of the question.

  • Jean Meslier

    I’d say Brian Walker would have more appeal for the Tea Party than Pearse or his outlook.
    Surely the collective “spinners” can do better than this or is the gloss on this breakthrough victory just a wee bit too shiny?

  • Rory Carr

    Well then, in that case you really have no cause to denounce those Donegal SW voters who remained loyal to Fíanna Fáil if you are prepared to back Labour even if they betray all that is holy.

  • Rory Carr

    The above in reply to Pippakin.

  • Kevin Barry

    Brian, you’re quoting the WSJ as if it is a paper of repute (ill nowadays).

    We’ve listened to what FF, FG and Labour have to say regarding the matter of the economy, none of them have the balls to make the serious decisions and a default on the bank’s debts at the very least is the only sensible course of action.

    Krugman has been spot on during the past two years about how we’ve been digging ourselves into a bigger hole by the day, but to take one of his select quotes

    “But there is no alternative, say the serious people: all of this is necessary to restore confidence.

    Strange to say, however, confidence is not improving. On the contrary: investors have noticed that all those austerity measures are depressing the Irish economy — and are fleeing Irish debt because of that economic weakness.”

    Recognise anyone?


    SF may be making a populist appeal, but the others seem to be too cosy with the EU, the ECB and the IMF, we need something radical to get us out of our hole

  • pippakin

    Rory Carr

    What? what did I say to give you the impression that I would vote for the party that bankrupted the country any more than I would vote for those who murdered their way to the ballot box?

    Its a time of change here. I will wait and see what happens.As yet I see no reason to change my mind about Labour but then, if they really do not repudiate the bank guarantee, who knows.

  • Jean Meslier

    No probs Rory. We hit the proverbial button at the same time it would seem.
    I received a text similar to the you’re FFired quote.

    It said FFianna FFail, you’re FF*cked

  • Brian Walker is quite right to wonder if FF might have expected an even bigger disaster, as 21 per cent in a by-election, even in Donegal, is a major disappointment but not a melt-down. However, is Brian sure about describing the circumstances behind the delayed poll as a gerrymander ? He might have been able to refer to it as a form of filibuster, but gerrymander is a term which is usually only applied to dubious boundary measures.

  • Zig70

    I think the southerners should definitely vote Sinn Fein. In two years time the banks will be loaded with profits again. Who better to get the money out of them? SF’s mates did such a good job with the Northern Bank.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    In essense, SF are doing what their more successful predecessors did – become Fianna Fail.

  • dwatch

    ‘Gerry Adams plans cross-border united Ireland ‘rally’
    Saturday, 27 November 2010’ Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/gerry-adams-plans-crossborder-united-ireland-lsquorallyrsquo-15015246.html#ixzz16YrCYjtV

    Who from Northern Ireland in their right mind wants to become part of EIRE during the present monetary situation down south?

    Can someone please explain the madness of Gerry Adams? Just because SF win a by-election in Donegal and Gerry hopes to win a seat in Co Louth surely he does not think SF will win outright the coming election in 2011?

  • JJ Malloy

    former Enron advisor Krugman

  • Cormac mac Art

    Could you explain the right/wrong, wrong/right comment, Percy? I don’t understand it but it intrigues me.

  • Cormac mac Art

    Well, you have to try and see it from his perspective. And that perspective is why SF will continue to badly in the long-term in Ireland unless they get rid of the old guard and completly reinvent themselves in Ireland.

  • lamhdearg

    Look out for all the dirt that is held in reserve for just this scenario being released in the next few weeks FF FG and the rest must protect their phoney baloney jobs at all cost, they may even get their new best mates the Brits to release some of the dirt they have been keeping. Any bookmaker giving odds on who will form Eire’s next coalition goverment and how long it will last. Any truth that Brian offered David donegal as colateral on the loan.

  • pippakin


    Yep, the next GE here will be really interesting…I’m looking forward to it!

  • Kevin Barry

    And? Care to actually have a go at the argument?

  • of course it’s largely a moot point considering the Republic’s electorate cannot vote for the party now de facto in charge down there – the Tories…

  • Jean Meslier

    “..Who from Northern Ireland in their right mind wants to become part of EIRE during the present monetary situation down south?..”

    dwatch, this with respect tells me you seek an explanation.

    Perhaps no explanation is possible.
    Suffice to say, this rally and the protest in Dublin next Saturday were organised before Donegal SW or Gerry Adams standing to take the Louth seat for SF.

    No you probably still don’t get it.