While the Dunphy show had the Mitchell v McGuinness face-off, the real fun was elsewhere, including today’s Sunday Independent which had a direct attack on Sinn Féin’s candidate by Fine Gael’s Phil Hogan (amongst others). It is hard to believe (looking at this morning’s paper) that the campaign is still a long way out from election day.
Hogan, a Carlow-Kilkenny TD, is the party’s blunt director of elections and general fixer (and erstwhile Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government). While the paper contained a number of articles, Hogan’s intervention in the presidential election sounds the outright panic button for the Mitchell campaign which appears to be failing to gain any traction. From what it merely describes as it’s own poll of 500 people, that Sindo article also reports current opinions (excluding don’t knows) as:
Michael D Higgins (27 per cent), David Norris (20 per cent), Sean Gallagher (13 per cent), Mary Davis (12 per cent), Martin McGuinness (11 per cent), Gay Mitchell (10 per cent) and Dana Rosemary Scallon (7 per cent)
If you can believe those numbers, attacking McGuinness seems pointless since Higgins and Norris are both out in front, and, more likely to be in direct competition with Mitchell for support. As government chief whip Paul Kehoe’s twitter account was also offering contributions to the progress of the Dunphy show debate, a generalised hysteria appears to be gripping Fine Gael at the moment.
Fine Gael’s problem is also likely to be Labour’s (and Higgin’s) problem as the election draws nearer. Not only will the inescapable Greek crisis keep the Euro and the EU to cente stage, probably in two weeks time. But as October draws to a close, the coalition will be preparing to pay a futher unsecured Anglo-Irish bond for €730m which will draw significant political damage in the final straight. Whoever benefits, it is unlikely to be Mitchell…