One of the interesting parts of elections is trying to figure out who will replace outgoing TD’s as this represents the minimum number of new TD’s that will enter the Dáil this year. 39 new TD’s are guaranteed to be elected during this General Election Campaign.
Fianna Fáil has the highest number of retirees with 21 TD’s stepping down including some high profile names like Brian Cowen. Fine Gael have 8 TD’s stepping down and strangely in two constituencies, both TD’s are standing down. They are in Galway and Cork South West where the party will be running a new panel of candidates.
Labour have 4 TD’s stepping down, including Micheal D Higgins who wants to run for the Presidency. Sinn Fein have one TD stepping down, and that is Arthur Morgan and Gerry Adams (Baron??) will be attempting to hold that seat. Two independents will also be stepping down.
There are three vacant seats in the Dáil due to the resignations of George Lee (Fine Gael – Dublin South), Martin Cullen (Fianna Fáil – Waterford) and Dr James McDaid (Fianna Fáil – Donegal North-East).
That was some weekend wasn’t it? I have never in my life experienced a weekend in which so much has happened politically. We entered the weekend with Brian Cowen as leader of Fianna Fáil and we finished it with him as a caretaker Taoiseach.
His resignation as leader of Fianna Fáil was not that surprising considering the amount or pressure on him from all parts of the Fianna Fáil part and the failure of stalwarts like Eamonn O’Cuiv to back him. He knew his time was up. He had to go, but hes staying as Taoiseach.
We now face the possibility this week that the leader of Fianna Fail might not be in Government going into the election. That is if Michéal Martin wins the vote on Wednesday, which he is expected to do. But I wouldn’t trust those Fianna Fáilers and the result could surprise us.
After all the drama on Saturday, the Greens went into crisis mode. They held a meeting on Sunday and at press conference yesterday, they announced they had “lost patience” with their Government partners and were pulling out of Government. This means we are left with 7 ministers. The minimum number allowed by the constitution.
The Cabinet now looks like this:
Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs: Brian Cowen
Finance: Brian Lenihan
Tánasite, Education, Skill, Health and Children: Mary Coughlan
Community, Equality, Gaeltacht Affairs, Transport, Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Pat Carey
Agriculture, Fisheries, Food, Justice and Law Reform: Brendan Smith
Tourism, Culture, Sport, Enterprise, Trade and Innovation: Mary Hanafin
Social Protection, Defence, Communication and Natural Resources: Eamonn O’Cuiv
The election date is obviously going to change with this and a date that seems to be appearing is Friday 25th of February. That is of course if they can pass the Finance Bill and stave off the vote of confidence.
Tonight’s meeting on the Finance Bill between Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens will be an interesting one. It will be the one that decides whether or not we will have a Finance Bill going into the election. Its going to be an interesting week.
So the Taoiseach has announced in the Dáil that the General Election will take place on Friday the 11th of March. So that gives us 49 days to campaign for Ireland’s future. I am looking forward to that!
The Taoiseach also announced that Minsters will be double jobbing until that day. He announced the following portfolios.
Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs: Brian Cowen
Education and Health and Children: Mary Coughlan
Community and Family Affairs and Transport: Pat Carey
Agriculture and Justice: Brendan Smith
Tourism and Enterprise, Trade and Innovation: Mary Hanafin
So Fianna Fail are as divided as Fine Gael was last summer. The Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting gets under way at 5:30pm and is expected to last until around 9pm. The wording of the motion to be debated is reported to be
“That the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party has confidence in Brian Cowen TD as leader of Fianna Fáil.”
Its been a tough week for Brian Cowen in his office as Taoiseach and Leader of Fianna Fail and has fast fallen from approval with both the public and his party.
On Sunday Cowen made a big mistake in relation to this heave. He should have accepted Michaél Martin’s resignation. For how can he keep someone in his cabinet that has no confidence in him. This is the approach Enda took with Richard Bruton and it probably helped save him as it showed he could take decisive action. Cowen has proven yet again that he cannot make the hard decision.
Listening to Mr Cowen on Six One news last night it struck me again how useless Cowen is at communicating. He started on about “transformative changes” rather then just saying “changes”, which would have been enough for most people.
I am not sure if Michaél Martin is the best person to lead the Fianna Fail party, but his actions this weekends show that he has balls, and will make a decision, eventually!
Is this what we are going to be left with? A Fianna Fail government afraid to make a decision. We are in a bad financial state as it is. This Government needs to go. This sorry saga shows that Fianna Fail is putting itself first. TD’s are worried about their seats and no they are in jeopardy if Cowen stays on as leader. But do they have the guts to sack him? I don’t think so.
The latest opinion poll by Red C due to be published in tomorrow’s Irish Sun makes for sombre reading for members of Fianna Fail. According to the poll, they will come fourth in an General Election, as now Sinn Fein as more support then Fianna Fail.
The results of the poll are as follows:
Fine Gael 32%
Sinn Fein 16%
Fianna Fail 13%
When this is translated into seats, according to Adrian Kavanagh on politicalreform.ie, the Dáil could like this:
Fine Gael 67
Sinn Fein 24
Fianna Fail 12
This would lead to a number of possible outcomes. An FG/Lab coalition which would have a substantial majority in the region of 30 votes.
A left wing government of Lab/SF/Inds. They would need the support of 11 of the independents, but with many left-wing independents expected to be elected (going on this poll including Joe Higgin,s Richard Boyd Barrett and Catherine Murphy) it could be a possibility.
A grand coalition of FF/FG would not be possible with these results.
What would be interesting in this scenario is which 12 Fianna Failers would survive. As Seamus Kirk is automatically elected as Ceann Comhairle, it would mean that only 11 would be elected! They could be
What an interesting result that would be! Will it happen tough?
Under Fianna Fáil’s plan, there are only 10 sitting days left until the Dáil rises on December 16th followed by a 33 day break until the Dáil sits again on January 19th. The Taoiseach has consistently claimed that the Budget is of prime importance yet he is refusing to bring it forward or allow extra time for it and the subsequent Finance and Social Welfare Bills to be debated and voted upon.
This is a joke. If the Government does not change this plan, it will not be looked on favourable by the electorate. They are hanging on by a thread and by following this course of action they are trying to cling to their positions as they know the writing is on the wall.
Hopefully the Greens will try and change this plan.
As expected Doherty as topped the poll. Unexpectedly Labour’s Frank McBreaty has come 4th with the Independent Thomas Pringle beating him by 90 votes on the first count. It will be interesting if he gets eliminated on the 2nd count!
For the second count Ann Sweeney (Ind/New Ireland) has been eliminated and her 133 votes are being distributed.
Some may see Barry O’Neills result as being a poor one, but the fact that he is less then 1,000 votes behind Fianna Fail’s Brian Ó Domhnaill, says a lot for his campaign.
The results were fairly close to that unofficial exit poll last night. Turnout was up on what was being reported, with 55.32% of eligible voters voting and that has led to a quota of 17,213.
4pm UPDATE: It is expected that Labour’s Frank McBreaty will be the next candidate eliminated.
The Taoiseach and other Government Ministers can say what they want, but Stephen Kinsella posted this video up which may jog some memories. They certainly saw this coming and the ERSI was not alone in warning us about the fact that we were in for a hard landing.
Ye are fooling no one lads. Its time to change the record on that one.