Following on: Ó Broin to run for Seanad.

Launched close to the end of the general election campaign, Fine Gael’s five point plan may effectively become a checklist of things Fine Gael won’t do in government. Despite a bit of brinksmanship, Labour’s involvement in government may be only the tiniest bit in doubt (well, as of 8 pm this evening), so some component of the five point plan will inevitably fall by the wayside in an agreed programme for government.

At the same time, the recent noises from Barroso and Merkel both suggest that the pre-election photo-ops were little more than optical exercises in the taoiseachification of Enda. The possibility that they were getting their favoured candidate into the post, and what that might mean, was not really considered by the mainstream Irish media.

Another of the five points may take a hammering once the Taoiseach’s nominees for the Seanad are announced. Given that much of the professed interest in political reform focused on the Seanad (as if somehow, and paradoxically, it was at the root of all failures), the eleven nominations to the upper house have generally been rewarded cronies and future election candidates rather than appointees who were chosen for their capacity to make a constructive contribution.

For those who need an electoral fix before the Assembly elections, Eoin Ó Broin, who narrowly missed out on a Dáil seat in Dublin Mid-West, will be contesting the NUI Seanad panel for Sinn Féin. Given the peculiar cirumstances of the NUI panel – the electors are all the National University of Ireland graduates (increasing numbers of whom were conferred by the associated colleges in recent years) – a significant number of registered voters will have emigrated over the last two to three years. Since postal votes are not allowed in Dáil elections, there was a sense of disenfranchisement amongst the Irish diaspora which included a simulated on-line election (interestingly for Ó Broin, Sinn Féin achieved 23 in the simulated election rather than the actual 14 seats). As postal voting is the method for elections to the NUI panel, it will be interesting to see how many graduates check the register, organise their votes, and decide to make a statement about their attitudes to those in the lower house. Ballot papers are sent out on 21st March and must be returned by 27th April, so registered electors have plenty of time to receive and return their vote. Whatever the actual chances, the significance of Sinn Féin taking a seat on the NUI panel would be fairly obvious in signposting the party’s potential to grow it’s vote.

Needless to say, Ó Broin, a Sinn Féin policy analyst and editor of Irish Left Review, isn’t likely to be among the eleven nominated by Enda Kenny, or Barroso, or Merkel.

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  • Pete Baker
  • John Ó Néill

    Pete

    hope you are right…

  • Mark

    John,

    Just asking – do you think maybe SF regret not running Eoin in Dun laoghaire / Rathdown . Boyd Barrett took votes left , right and centre ….votes Eoin could have contested …maybe?

  • John Ó Néill

    I don’t know – at a local level Boyd-Barrett and co got involved in the likes of the baths campaign and I don’t think the spade work had been done to match PBP. Maybe no SF candidate helped Boyd Barrett, too. Hard to tell.

  • Pete Baker

    John

    “hope you are right…”

    Really?

    So you’re standing by the implications of your final pay-off line…

    Needless to say, Ó Broin, a Sinn Féin policy analyst and editor of Irish Left Review, isn’t likely to be among the eleven nominated by Enda Kenny, or Barroso, or Merkel.

    Or will it simply be a matter of who secures the required votes?

    Seriously. You’re complaining that Barroso and Merkel are interfering in the Seanad elections?

  • John Ó Néill

    Pete – I think you are reading too much into that.

  • Pete Baker

    Really, John?

    What influence do you think they have in Seanad elections?

    It seems clear that you do believe they have some influence.

  • John Ó Néill

    Pete – I think you’re mixing up elected senators and Taoiseach’s nominees in the above.

    Perhaps your own tinfoil hat has momentarily slipped over your eyes.

  • Frame

    Seems very unlikely he could win a seat. Graduates don’t like party people.

    He seems to be being placed in internal exile. As a SF runner up, surely the party’s votes could get him and a couple of other SFers into the Seanad through the other routes.

  • Getting Eoin into the Oireachtas was the obvious move for SF since last Sunday morning (and I think I mentioned it on p.ie as soon as he was eliminated). Ó Broin the left intellectual brought the Dublin organisation back from near total collapse in the space of 3 years and has the potential to make even greater progres over the next few if given a greater public role (I was surprised how few southerners knew of him during the election). While it’s hard to see another partnership dominating SF like Adams-McGuinness anytime soon, as the centre of gravity moves towards Dublin, Doherty-Ó Broin is going to be the big influence.

  • @Mark was never a hope on hell for DLR.

  • It would be interesting to see how he does with the graduate vote…..an indication that SF is reaching a different voter base as well as the usual suspects.
    Reaching a new base requires a new kind of candidate…and it will be interesting to see if Sinn Féin (South) learns the lesson that Sinn Féin (North) wont learn if they persist with back to the future candidates like Pat Sheehan & Seanna Walsh.
    The disappointment in (younger) Sinn Féin circles that Ó Broin did not make it into an Dáil is perhaps the only downside to a stunning election performance.
    When I realised that he wouldnt make it, I was tempted to think of Danny Morrison who lost out on Sinn Féins “northern” rise. An Seanad gives a second chance.

  • “The disappointment in (younger) Sinn Féin circles that Ó Broin did not make it into an Dáil is perhaps the only downside to a stunning election performance.”

    I agree with FJH, even former members of SF speak of him highly.He is also good on TV which these days doesn’t do any politico harm.

    I think if SF leadership have any sense they will ring fence the north from the south as a special environment due to historical events and stop pretending it is a democratic assembly, etc. Men like Sheenan and Walsh will do well in the north, as they understand the sectarian nature of politics up there. However FJH is correct, I doubt they will transfer well to the south.

    I shuddered a bit when I read Gerry is to take the lead role in the Dail, as he has little real experience of the cut and thrust of democratic exchange, far better for him to take a guiding role and leave the front of house stuff to a younger, more energetic comrade, who understands the southern environment well.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick,

    I met Ó Broin briefly back during, I think it was the 1997 general election in Pim St primary school in the New Lodge. Agreed with your assessment.

    I agree with you WRT Gerry. Sinn Fein are making a mistake in allowing him to lead in the Dáil. I don’t think it’s a question of youth or energy, it is as you say the whole business of cut and thrust. Gerry does not do detail and he does not engage well in debate. Either he sees it as beneath him or he just doesn’t feel that it’s for him. That would at least explain why his attendance record in the NI Assembly was scarce.

    This election has had the effect, for SF, of drawing a line under Gerry’s previously disastrous leadership during elections in 2007 and 2009. The Louth victory has inflated his ego and it makes it difficult for his party workers to gently tell him that he doesn’t come across well to most people in the RoI. Perhaps he will do as Paisley did and lead the group for a year before promoting one of the new lads to do the real work.

  • comrade stalin

    I could not agree more with your comments. I was looking at Gaddafi on TV (I am not suggesting Gerry is on a par with him, before a shinner bites me) His appearance looked ridiculous for a man of his age, dyed hair and beard, daft clothes. The more so when compared with a photo of the man in his early days in power.

    Whatever their politics, these people who are in office for years, whether it be party or government, all remind me of the emperor with no cloths on. Yet all their retainers, cronies and old comrades are unwilling to tell them this. To my mind ten years max in office and then it’s down hill all the way.

  • Im not totally convinced that Ó Broin earned as much respect outside SF circles as Mickhall thinks. I should add that he has fallen off my radar in recent years but the impression I always had was that he seemed ill at ease as a SF person in the “north”.
    I think a few years back there was a certain anti-SF snobbery (which still exists of course) but SF persons with baggage were tolerated by other politicians in a way that SF “new” people were not tolerated.
    There also seemed to be a thought that “they should know better”.
    On the point that Sheehan and Walsh candidatures would not transfer well in the south…obviously I agree but Id go further and suggest they wont transfer well in the 21st century north.
    SF should really be making more of an effort to distance themselves from the past. Yet they “need” that core support. But sooner rather than later this wont work.

    Really theres no choice other than Gerry Adams to lead SF in an Dáil. He is after all an tuachtarán and he has actually earned it…whatever his detractors might say. He is vain enough (and like I say has earned the right) to enjoy those in the media who dont like him much getting irritated at his mere presence….and accent.
    He has confounded his media critics (usually too obsessive to make impartial analysis) again. If he stood down as Dáil leader, his critics would have enjoyed it and perceived it as a snub. They wont enjoy their alternative analysis that Adams has blocked the advancement of a younger better colleague quite so much.
    But Adams critics tend to produce “an analysis I prepared earlier” in Blue Peter style. Roll out Analysis B.

    But Adams is even older than I am and is possibly losing interest. Grandchildren are a wonderful reminder that there is such a thing as “Real Life” and I suspect that Gerry will not be leading SF in five years.

  • Grandchildren are a wonderful reminder that there is such a thing as “Real Life.”

    Your not wrong there, they were the making of me.

  • Comrade Stalin

    He is after all an tuachtarán and he has actually earned it…

    But interestingly chose not to nominated himself for deputy FM up here.

    He has confounded his media critics (usually too obsessive to make impartial analysis) again.

    There is a tendancy among people from the north, myself included, to overstate the nature of Gerry’s role in Irish politics. I think you’re going too far with your suggestion that he is some kind of anti-hero and that the media are obsessed with demonizing him.

    Without seeking to take away from his victory, the truth is that SF were in decline in Irish politics and that, like the pothead from Roscommon (nothing personal of course, he seems like a nice guy) and the property mogul in Kildare, they are essentially nobodies who have seen success on the back of FF’s meltdown. Gerry’s new role suggests that he’d like to believe that it was all something more than that.

    Cue the footage of Gerry standing up in the Dáil to make a tit out of himself.

  • Just for the record and not being pedantic I think you mean Mick Wallace in Wexford as the property mogul.
    I think Adams was more effective outside the DFM office than outside it. Had he been inside it (and I think its fair to say he would not have been as “successful” as Martin McGuinness) the media would have concentrated on a single SF figure….but the position was that SF practically doubled its media attention.
    There were of course other reasons.
    Im not for one minute suggesting that Gerry Adams is a hero..or even an anti-hero…Im merely sggesting he attracts flak merely for being Gerry Adams.
    For many this is of course reason-a-plenty. But in doing so SF can deflect from its policies.
    His critics are too single minded/obsessed with Adams himsef to realise they have never landed a decent punch. His continuing success makes them increasingly hysterical.

    I dont know if youre familiar with “The Simpsons” but Adams is the Homer……whose shortcomings are pointed out by Frank Grimes who doesnt understand why nobody actually cares.
    Constant mention of Jean McConville wont do Adams any harm. Did it cost a single vote in Louth (the scene of her “burial”) or West Belfast (the scene of her abduction)?
    Maybe those who mention it in the papers think they are superior beings to those who seemingly dont care. (enough) but maybe concentrating on Adams perceived economic illiteracy might have been a more rewarding target.
    Frankly Adams is a lightening rod for vitriolic criticism which allows Sinn Féin an almost free run.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Just for the record and not being pedantic I think you mean Mick Wallace in Wexford as the property mogul.

    Thank you, silly mistake on my part.

    I think Adams was more effective outside the DFM office than outside it.

    I completely disagree with that one. The old joke over the past few years was “Gerry needs a hobby” and a lot of the time, since devolution resumed, he came across to me as being at a bit of a loose end. Adams was impotent sitting on the outside and his attempts to make himself relevant – for example by jetting over to London during the crises over policing and justice powers – looked a bit like unwanted interference, and of course accomplished nothing. McGuinness’ assertion on the steps at the time that he was staying in Belfast because he had a job to do suggested, to me, discord at the top of SF over Adams’ strategy.

    the media would have concentrated on a single SF figure….but the position was that SF practically doubled its media attention.

    Like I say, I’m not convinced that this is the case. Gerry received comparatively little attention.

    For many this is of course reason-a-plenty. But in doing so SF can deflect from its policies.
    His critics are too single minded/obsessed with Adams himsef to realise they have never landed a decent punch. His continuing success makes them increasingly hysterical.

    I don’t agree with this either, there have been punches landed a-plenty on Gerry in the RoI (seems to happen less up north) – and they were working well as can be seen by looking at the story of the past five years or so which points to an SF decline. This election was different because people were minded to ignore the past transgressions of non-FF parties.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that people are hysterical. But there is, I guess, a degree of 26-countyism coming in there. The tone, as I see it, is indignation at the bare cheek of a man who bestows upon himself the role of De Valera’s successor, and he doesn’t even know the VAT rate.

  • I think its wishful thinking or at least premature to talk of a Sinn Féin decline. I think their rise and rise (in the north has been halted) as they have maximised their core vote (I discount the dissident republicans) and have maximised their outreach potential.
    Nobody (in the north) who isnt already voting Sinn Féin is likely to be convinced to do so in the next eight weeks.
    Conceivably that “soft” vote that SF have picked up since 1998 will be unconvinced by SFs record in government.
    But…caetainly there is no hard evidence of decline at this point.
    There might be after the Election.