Another angle on Sinn Féin’s Westminster abstention

Any debate about Sinn Féin’s Westminster abstention policy tends to cover no new ground. It always starts with someone – most recently Polly Toynbee – suggesting that SF should take their seats to pursue some common, worthwhile objective, in this case, that of blunting the sharp edges of brexit. It ends with SF supporters asserting that (a) it is a key republican principle that can’t be easily argued away; (b) that the party has a clear mandate to abstain from Westminster; … Read more

Tánaiste: “It has always been the case that Ireland and the United Kingdom cooperate closely on jointly securing the external border of the CTA…”

A couple of recent written questions in the Dáil, on the future operation of the Common Travel Area and immigration controls, provided the Irish Government with an opportunity to address what are described as “a number of misleading media reports on these matters in recent days”. From the Dáil record [13 Oct] Brexit Issues 10. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her views on media reports that the United Kingdom is seeking to shift the front line of … Read more

“Government will seek to pursue any appropriate opportunities for Ireland arising from the UK’s departure”

As mentioned in a couple of recent written answers in the Dáil, here and here, the Irish “Government will seek to pursue any appropriate opportunities for Ireland arising from the UK’s departure” from the EU. Here are those written answers Brexit Issues Deputy Niall Collins   asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport   if he has set up a departmental taskforce to acquire EU agencies and research projects from the UK that may have to relocate from Britain after Brexit negotiations are completed; and … Read more

Politicians and silly expenses claims

In the news today we are told that Alan Shatter claimed €12 for passport photos on his expenses and also for injections he had to take before travelling. Now, let’s be honest here this isn’t the biggest news in the world. Nor will the country be facing ruination over the claim. It is far from the worst thing any politician has done. It does, however, raise the issue of expenses again. There will be a rush of people to slam … Read more

Cartoon – The Double Irish

, Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

After an all-Ireland election, where might Sinn Féin go next?

If any party are glad that the recent elections are over, it is surely Sinn Féin. Being the only major party that contests elections in all 32 counties means it is uniquely challenged when simultaneous local, European and bye-elections are held at the same time. With such an island-wide volume of electoral data, sifting through the various results and assessing their implications presents similar challenges for its strategists. But a couple of themes are pretty clear. In Wexford, Sinn Féin ran 5 … Read more

Gerry Adams on the ‘current situation in Northern Ireland’

Here’s the full text of Gerry Adams speech in the Dail this afternoon in a debate entitled Statements on the current situation in Northern Ireland. Mr Adams segues from a long justification of his party’s murky past to an imagined future. However, there’s barely a reference to the actual ‘current situation in Northern Ireland’. Indeed the party press office has handily rethemed it, Dáil statements on the North: I welcome the fact that we are having this debate. I have … Read more

Meath East: We’ve seen it all before

Irish by-elections, by and large, are a bit of harmless fun. The outcome rarely influences the balance of forces in parliament, but it gives the voters a chance to give the incumbent party – whatever incumbent party – a good shoeing. Everyone feels better about themselves except whatever hapless candidate has been persuaded to stand by the ruling party. Famously, no government party had won a by-election for 30 years until Patrick Nulty stood under the Labour banner in 2011 – and he was an opposition politician in all but name, remedying even that within a couple of months.

Read moreMeath East: We’ve seen it all before

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… in terms of noise and output, Sinn Féin has proved more effective.

Following on from yesterday’s piece on Fianna Fáil that Mick flagged up, today the Irish Times continued with Paul Cullen looking at the Opposition with a brief analysis of Sinn Féin’s performance to date (in one of two pieces on the IT website, for more see below).  It suggests that: On numbers alone, a much diminished Fianna Fáil can still claim to lead the Opposition – but in terms of noise and output, Sinn Féin has proved more effective. The party … Read more

I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum

Newly elected Louth TD Gerry Adams has distributed his party baubles: Mary-Lou is Deputy leader and Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform. Aengus Ó Snodaigh is Spokesperson on Social Protection and Party Whip Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin is Spokesperson on Health and Children. -he used to be Sinn Féin Dáil leader and party spokesperson on the Peace Process and the Six Counties and Health & Children. That is some demotion! Mark McGregorBlogging at:


I’m not a fan of opinion polls. I like real numbers. Here’s a pointless little graph that relies on real numbers. If I’ve done it wrong put me right. Blue =  candidates per party as a percentage of seats available 2007 Red = successful candidates as a percentage of seats available 2007 Yellow = candidates per party as a percentage of seats available 2011 Green = candidate numbers in 2011 compared to 2007 successes Mark McGregorBlogging at:

There’s no point in deluding ourselves about what must be done.

This may be a slow burning story which will develop over the next week. Fianna Fáil have belatedly agreed to hold a Dáil debate and vote on the IMF/ECB arrangement to push commercial bank debts onto the taxpayers at a punitive 5.8% plus interest rate while continuing to deny that such a debate or vote is necessary. Backbench pressure to hold the vote apparently will include at least one, if not more  government TDs voting against the agreement. Some of whom have become decidedly erratic of late, … Read more

“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 … Read more

Gerry Adams: Able to run but not vote?

Gerry Adams declaration he will seek to run as a candidate for Dáil Éireann resulted in a pointless debate on how he will leave his postion as MP for West Belfast. Another technical point is that while he is legally entitled to run as a TD, he may not be entitled to vote in any future election. As the Dundalk Democrat notes and we all know, Adams doesn’t live in Louth or the south: GERRY Adams will reside in County … Read more

Gender quotas

Over on the Anti-Room group blog, Amanda posts about female political representation and gender quotas. She notes: Now we hear news that Irish female politicians as a group (all be it a very small one in comparison to their male counterparts) are not in favour of introducing quotas to ensure a greater number of women get into power. A very thorough article in today’s Irish Times by political correspondent Mary Minihan, found that of the 23 female TDs currently in … Read more