#Aras11: How was it for …Fine Gael?

Well if it’s stating the bleeding obvious to say ‘not good’, it’s worth going into some detail as to why it turned out so badly for them at a time when they are riding so high in the polls.

The short, trite answer is everything and nothing. The candidate was the one favoured by the parliamentary against the ringer Pat Cox, favoured by Enda Kenny. Cox is hardly the warmest of characters but his experience as President of the European Parliament might well have given Higgins more of a run for his money than the intelligent but rather dour Gay Mitchell.

Therein lies the rub.

A Labour/FG stand off might wll have let an independent third party through the middle and handed the office to a non government party man. Whether by cock up or contrivance it was clear from the start Mitchell was not a contender for the leadership.

His most notable function in the race seems to have been to keep Maryin McGuinness pinned down (wheYn the media showed any sign of weakening). It’s hard to recall a serious pitch for the Presidency from a man who has barely been seen on the national stage since 2004.

If Martin McGuinness helped stymy Sean Gallagher’s chances but Mitchell’s attacks earlier on contributed to the Derrymans inability to talk about the things he wanted to talk about.

Ugly work, with little in the way of direct return for the party. But it’s likely to be another couple of years beforeany of these parties face a serious democratic challenge.

  • The Presidency is more or less choosing someone who represents the best of us. To that extent Higgins was the man.
    The Electorate always get it right. There might have been a time when I would be dancing at crossroads but unfortunately the man with arthritis is where I am.

    Mitchell represents the worst of Fine Gael. The Electorate may have chosen them to sort out the economy but they will never be “loved”. A President needs to be “loved”. And while Mitchell has been absent from Ireland for years, I dont think that a man (like Cox) even more addicted to Europe would have won. Cox has of course a knowledge of hw the Media works.

  • Munsterview

    Many, many moons ago long before the era of mobile phones, I left my dying father’s bed side and a few short hours later and a long car journey away, I was in my place directing an election count for Sinn Fein. This was long before the era of mobile phones, a press friend took the call later that morning that my father had passed on.

    The count supervisor immediately suspended for a tea break, one of the many remembered acts of kindness that day, cross party and from the counting staff. A prominent Fine Gael Minister was first across the floor to offer his condolences and asked for a quite word with just the two of us and got it. Among the things he said was that “politics could be a cruel, unforgiving business” as indeed it can. We remain personal friends to this day.

    The count resumed and I stayed there until the I had ‘done the maths’ and filed filed a full report once the Sinn Fein figures were known. It was a small personal price for me compared to my then Movement comrades in Armagh, Long Kesh or who were Activists or their families and what they were asked to pay..

    There will be another day to take Fine Gael apart. Jim Mitchell as an individual is humiliated and devastated to-night. Whatever of his politics Jim have given far too much to public life and to Fine Gael, to be forever identified with what probably is the turning point in Fine Gael’s political fortunes and the way downhill.

    Politics can indeed be a cruel and unforgiving business, Jim as an individual, his family or his circle did not deserve the way things panned out for him and as I said in opening the rest can wait for another day.

  • Decimus


    What sort of a reception did ‘long rifles’ like yourself get from the northern Provos?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Jim Mitchell as an individual is humiliated and devastated to-night.

    I doubt it. He’s been dead for nine years.

  • Decimus


  • Mick Fealty

    The FG story puts the SF story in a proper light. The candidate mattered. Gay was neither right nor the best candidate FG could have run. As for leaving Irish politics he all but left it in 2006 when he announced he would concentrate on EurOpe.

    He got hammered, mostly because rather than make an offering of his own he spent most of his time firing rhetorical bullets into McGuinness’s flaming cockpit.

    And, in case none noticed, the Aras is in the hands if the govt party which was heretofore struggling in the polls.

  • Neville Bagnall

    Echoing Mick – the candidate matters. You can’t translate support levels across election types. Presidential, Bye, Local and General are different beasts.

    But sometimes there are lessons and sometimes there are effects.

    The lesson for FG might be that they are still not professional enough – Cox was a stronger national candidate, and they seemed to think it was “their turn”.

    The effects? Does it reopen old wounds, or put a disaffected rump back in their box? I don’t know the party well enough to tell.