“A spate of retirements would actually suit Fianna Fáil at the moment.”

In the Irish Times Noel Whelan provides a useful corrective to any rumours of a stampede of retiring Fianna Fáil TDs ahead of next year’s anticipated Irish general election. 

TOO MUCH has been made of the retirements already announced in the 30th Dáil. When set in context, the pattern of retirements for the forthcoming election is unlikely to differ from previous elections. Between 15 and 25 sitting TDs always retire at each election. If it seems like there has been a flood of retirements of late, it is because now that a spring election is certain, the timetable for candidate selection and retirement decisions has accordioned sharply.

But with a twist…

A spate of retirements would actually suit Fianna Fáil at the moment. A party whose national poll rating is going south of 20 per cent should ideally be running only one candidate in each three-seat and four-seat constituency and at most run two candidates in each five-seater. As of now, Fianna Fáil is overloaded with incumbents contesting relative to its likely vote share. In many constituencies, there is a risk that evenly-balanced incumbents might split the party’s remaining support and each be well short of a quota.

A stampede of retirements is what Fianna Fáil strategists should be hoping for but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

Read the whole thing.

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  • fitzjameshorse1745

    certainly it would be beneficial if FF had candidates untainted by the last few years in office. But I am not so sure retirements would cover it.
    In places where FF have two seats now, theres a likelihood that they will drop to one seat.
    In places where they hold just one seat, they could lose it.

    Thats a recipe for internal feuding over allocated territory, air time and all the rest. I see a spate of resignations……ie FF people resigning from the party in disgust (feigned or real) at the crisis and taking their chances as “Independents”.
    They might feel there is nothing to lose.

  • medillen

    Noel Whelan is an ex Fianna Fail incumbant himself>

  • Pete Baker

    And medillen?

    Falsify what he says.

    Rather than playing the man…

  • Mark McGregor


    If using Noel Whelan’s views on FF as a ‘useful corrective’ it is surely only right to note he is a former candidate and high profile supporter?

    That’s not playing the man, that’s relevant context.

  • Pete Baker


    Except Noel doesn’t stop with the useful corrective.

    And in any case, it’s not his “views on FF” that are the useful corrective. It’s the comparative figures he provides.

    In the full article. Which I’m sure you’ve read.

    Falsify those if you want to undermine that corrective.

  • medillen

    Thankyou Mark,

    Pete, his figures might be historically accurate, if not premature, but his background might explain his rationale to dispute the ‘rats leaving the sinking ship’ reality at this point (my view as non FFer).

  • Ulick

    “Falsify what he says.

    Rather than playing the man…”

    What a load of patronising, arrogant nonsense. Firstly it is practically impossible to “falsify” speculation based on an opinion. Secondly, in light of the previous point to give a clear picture of where that opinion/spin is grounded it’s only right that Whelans FF connections are brought into view as the Baker didn’t see fit to do so. This is certainly not “playing the man”.

  • Henry94

    It depends. A lot of these guys would have a strong personal vote based on favours done over the years. A wavering voter may conclude that the gratitude does not extend to the party a a whole. I don’t see how FF could be stronger in Louth with Dermot Ahern gone.

    On the figures as the polls have them now three seaters would be a write of for FF in most of the country. In the likes of Cork SW they will have one seat if they run one two or three. But in Kerry South they could end up with nothing if John O’Donaghue retired.

    When your numbers are as poor as FF’s are strategy becomes of marginal importance. 13% in a three seater is not enough. In a four seater it could put you in the shake up but where will the transfers come from?

    How low can they go is the question.

  • Pete Baker

    “his figures might be historically accurate”

    “it is practically impossible to “falsify” speculation based on an opinion”


    Get your lines right before you start trying to disrupt a thread.

    And read the whole thing.

  • Mark McGregor


    Problem is Whelan is spinning this off a P.ie thread:


    What he fails to note is the further likely and expected retirements that will happen ahead of the GE –mostly FF. His attempt to spin a snapshot as the end story is just spin.

    Anyone with a modicum of understanding of southern politics knows his snapshot won’t be the reality, many more FF TDs are about to exit politics before the election.

    However, presenting his momentary snapshot as a ‘useful corrective’ before the facts play out is your prerogative, just as it was Whelans.

    Doesn’t make it anything other than spinning, that won’t be the actuality come declaration day.

  • Pete Baker


    Come declaration day, you can note the actualité.

    Until then you’re futuring.

    By all means argue that the figures will be different by that time.

    But as Noel Whelan pointed out, his article is “to date”.

    And he adds the argument that further retirements would be beneficial to Fianna Fáil.

    But playing the man is when someone says ‘don’t listen to him because he’s so-and-so’.

    Hence the “And medillen?”

  • George

    “Noel Whelan provides a useful corrective to any rumours of a stampede of retiring Fianna Fáil TDs”

    Interestingly, there hasn’t been much of hysteria about FF TDs retiring so there is nothing to correct. Mr Whelan seems to building up a straw man to then knock it down.

    What there has been is the stampede of commentators saying no FF seat is safe.

    Mr Whelan doesn’t address that point satisfactorily. Actually, he doesn’t address it at all and, as has already been pointed out, the election has not even been called yet so let’s see how many retirements there are then.

  • Wilde Rover

    Interesting times ahead.

    The budget this week should make things clearer for some TDs. I imagine they are all looking to their constituencies to check for canaries in the mine: the die-hard families not making it to cumman meetings, lackluster greetings from erstwhile stalwarts, the remaining loyalists greeting them as if they had a terminal illness.

    The infamous FF voting machine could come back to haunt them and turn a rout into an annihilation as too many candidates cannibalize themselves in an orgy of recrimination. For many years they got more seats than their first percentages would suggest. Now they look like becoming the new SF: a small number of first preferences and toxic on the transfers.

    One possible way out of this mess would be for the ones with good “personal votes” to be the ones selected and the second and third string journeymen retire. Or maybe they could go “Independent FF/Independent” for the election in the hope of picking up transfers from voters who might deem them somewhat cleansed of their taint. They would still be in the “FF Gene Pool” and could return when the electorate is no longer baying for blood.

    I would have thought one or two might have considered jumping ship by now. For example, reinventing oneself as SF in a constituency where SF normally don’t do well could secure the sovereignty vote that is as mad as hell but haven’t made the decision to jump to SF because of perceived baggage. This would have the advantage of taking the moral high ground while your former colleagues are washed away by the floods on the plains.

    Their main problem is that FF is a marriage of convenience for many, and when there’s no Sugar Daddy in power for a long period to keep them sweet, then it’s no money no honey…

  • joeCanuck

    ….based on favours done over the years…


    Maybe. But since we are talking about other wheelers and dealers (aren’t we?), it might be more a case of who can do me a favour tomorrow that decides it for some?

  • Munsterview

    Been saying it in post after post, I am very cautious about this demise of Fianna Fail. I heard from a reliable source yesterday that Michael Healy Rae is telling all and sundry down there that the budget must be passed and that there is no choice on the matter.

    Like his father, Michael do not make too many mistakes and since he himself will be running the next election, he must see some future for Fianna Fail.

    It is still too early to read the entrails. I have been in a few good riots in my time and in plenty more events where they were well predicted and nothing happened, not even with a bit of encouragement!

    Everyone I have met in the past two weeks is bitching and moaning. They are now saying the things about the government and the State that only people like me did. I have to stand nodding like it is all news to me. Will the pot boil over? That will be the acid test. This is not a slow burn issue either the balloon goes up in the next two weeks or the bastards have got away with it yet again.

    In those circumstances FF will spend some time in the sin bin and that will be it ! They will house clean themselves and under a new credible leader they will come back with their ‘that was then and this is now mantra’

    Just how much do it take to look good across from Enda, Mick Noonan or some more of that bunch. Have everyone forgotten how God Damm awful they were. Apparently not, that is why that they are still hovering around the low thirties in % despite everything.

  • Alias

    All politics is clientelism in that all political parties promise benefits to particular social groups and all candidates promise benefits to particular individuals in return for electoral support. With the demise of the national interest, it will never be otherwise. Some parties, such as the ones likely to hold power, appeal to richer clients who in turn can promise benefits to the candidate or party to further corrupt the democratic process.

    So all that the demise of FF will ensure is a changing of the guards but not a change from clientelism to promotion of the redundant national interest, so the King is dead and long live the King. Any party that promises you that it will restore the economy if elected to government is lying to you since the government doesn’t have any economic sovereignty and can do exactly squat in that department.

    No one can predict the result of a general election for FF with this many variables other than by guesswork, so pick a number between 10 and 20 and call yourself a prophet…

  • Munsterview


    I was due a medical check anyway but since I have been in agreement with you all week, it is now definate appointment time on Monday! !

  • Wilde Rover


    “In those circumstances FF will spend some time in the sin bin and that will be it ! They will house clean themselves and under a new credible leader they will come back with their ‘that was then and this is now mantra’”

    If that is the case then the Irish people deserve all the hardship and hairshirts in the world.

    “Just how much do it take to look good across from Enda, Mick Noonan or some more of that bunch. Have everyone forgotten how God Damm awful they were. Apparently not, that is why that they are still hovering around the low thirties in % despite everything.”

    Yes, united in their mediocrity.

    It really is time for the Irish people to shit or get off the pot. Hanging around on the sidelines just won’t cut it anymore.

  • Munsterview

    Agreed ! The powder keg is now there lying open all week but as yet no spark to ignite!

    These opposition forces can only assemble and concentrate up to a point before starting to dissipate again. The forces are still building up. The TD are now home for the weekend, they will take the pulse over the weekend and react accordingly on Tuesday when back in the Dail.

    Will any decide to break ranks ? If they see a tame public no, if the public are up in arms and out protesting, then that is another matter. So far weather and shock have mitigated against mass demos and only that will shake the system.

    Incidentally the Cops are up to their same pro-establishment tricks, the officer in charge of the last Dublin demo informed one of the main union speakers that there was 100,000 protesters there. Presumably he told Garda HQ the same thing yet they gave an estimate of 50,000 protesters RTE and other media.

  • Munsterview

    Another thing about Fianna Fail, they have over 60,000 card carrying members. This at least is the claim.

    On the current figures they would be a having of the parliamentary party. How many of the activists will go to SF ? very few or a mass exodus, no middle ground. How many FF voters for SF on % ? I would imagine about 50%.

    FF business is also very pissed off, remember the cement mixer ?

    There could as yet be a business PD type party trowing it’s hat in the ring. Micheal Martin came out swinging to day in Saturday view. it was interesting that he concentrated his fire on Labour. Fine Gael cannot make up credibility at this stage, they are what they are, they are unlikely to get any better but they can get a hell of a lot worse, never under rate their capacity for foot shooting.

    Leo the Valkyrie was playing very dirty, he said that every vote for Labour was a vote for higher taxes and he too concentrated his fire on Labour. No discussion of course on the SF elephant in the room.

  • pippakin

    It is too early to say who will retire or why.

    Ahearn is fifty something, not an age usually considered old for a politician.

    If the cause is arthritis, unless it is cripplingly severe, many people work on because they have to. Perhaps if Mr Ahearn had to wait for and then live on the state pension he too might find the pain bearable enough to put in the not exactly arduous hours required.

    It may be that some are disgusted by the incompetence, weakness and possible corruption exposed by recent events. Its now clear that people who previously voted for ‘traditional’ reasons are now openly condemning and considering their options. Obviously some FF members will be doing their own checks, they may decide that retirement is better than losing.

  • Mick

    Med and Ulick,

    No one asks you guys to declare your party membership. You stand or fall on the quality of your contributions. Now please concentrate and play the game!!

  • lover not a fighter

    Fianna Fáil should retire Fianna Fáil.

    This policy would achieve wide spread support in Ireland.

  • Munsterview


    what Fianna Failure could do and should do would of itself make a very alternative history of the 20th, century but to repeat their favorite saying, that was then and this is now. History has also shown what FF would do………quite simply that is whatever the situation required!

    For all but a few of it’s early years FF never let principle stand in the way of pragmatism.

    It is now one whole week since the ‘Great Sell Out’, what opposition have they faced from the Irish People ? Dermot Ahern more or less admitted some of the Cabinet were not in the loop, were not informed as to what was happening and that he mislead the Irish People.

    The kept some of the Cabinet ministers out of the loop and lied to the Back Bench until all was signed, sealed and delivered. How much actual protest have they faced. Another week of non activity and other than a bit of shouting in the Dail and over the airwaves they have got away with the sell out.

    If the budget is passed this week, then the moment has passed. The longer this EU agreement foisted on us stays in place, the more difficult it will be to alter or dislodge.

    FF retire FF ? you must be joking, they may have sold the country but they may yet save the party and if the past week is anything to go on they will !