Race for the Aras: The Fine Gael Candidate?

History of Fine Gael
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So following on from my post “Race for the Aras” its time to look at the parties candidates for the Presidency elections. First up is Fine Gael.

Back in April the first candidate out of the block was current Ireland East MEP Mairead McGuinness announced her decision to seek Fine Gael’s nomination for the presidency.

Since then there as been many changes. Former Taoiseach John Bruton and Ireland South MEP have ruled themseleves out of the running.

Gay Mitchel, Ireland Dublin MEP has also announced his intention to run in a statement released by Fine Gael.

I have been giving serious consideration to the possibility of running for President. Yesterday I attended the funeral of Declan Costello whose political principles and approach to public service convinced me to join Fine Gael at the age of 16. Since then my political conviction is informed by a Christian Democratic ethos, based on four pillars: rights and responsibilities, enterprise and social justice.

I want to advance this ethos in public life and I see the Presidency as another way of doing so. My belief is that this ethos, if applied sensibly, will help equip Ireland to overcome some of our present economic and ethical difficulties and make us a country which others will want to emulate. I have decided to seek the Fine Gael nomination for the Presidency and an endorsement of these values.

Another name in the mix if former MEP and President of  the European Parliament  Pat Cox.  He has applied to join the St Lukes Branch in Cork North Central and the Party Exec will decide on his membership this evening. He is currently as seen as the outsider for the nomination despite having the backing of the leadership due to the procedure being used by Fine Gael to select their candidate this time out.

This year Fine Gael will be using an electoral college of three parts to select the candidate. The electoral college is made up of Local Councillors (20%), the Party Executive (10%) and the Parliamentary Party (70%). Only those who attend convention have a vote, so it will be a major numbers game.

The odds according to Paddy Power from the nomination are:

  • Gay Mitchell 1/2
  • Pat Cox 9/4
  • Mairead McGuinness 11/2

So if you had a vote in the Fine Gael Electoral College who would you vote for?

The Race for the Aras

Presidential flag of Ireland.
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This year sees one of the most hotly contested Presidential elections in years. With candidates declaring from all parties and none, it will be interesting to see who actually makes it on to the ballot paper. It is notoriously difficult to get a nomination as Dana found out in 2004 when she attempted to run against the current President Mary McAleese. To be nominated candidates need 20 Oireachtas members to nominate them or 4 city or county councils.

The Party Candidates:

Fine Gael and Labour have a number of candidates who have expressed interest in being their parties candidate in the Presidential election. Within Fianna Fail no one has expressed an interest yet and Sinn Fein have abandoned their plans have holding the presidency during the 1916 centenary.

For Fine Gael, Mairead McGuinness MEP is the only declared candidate while Sean Kelly MEP is widely known to have an interest in a run. With the withdrawal of John Bruton, my money would be on McGuinness being the Fine Gael candidate. This year Fine Gael will use an electoral college system to select their candidate with votes being distributed between the Parliamentary Party, Local Councillors and the Party Executive. Only those who turn up on the day of the Electoral College will have a vote, so location could play a major factor. Pat Cox has also been linked with a possible backing from Fine Gael, but I can’t see him getting widespread backing,

For Labour 3 names have emerged in the fight for their nomination. Former TD Michael D Higgins, former Chef De Cabinet and current Barnardos Chief Fergus Finlay and Former Senator Kathleen O’Meara. Michael D would traditionally have been the favourite among the Parliamentary Party but with the expanded party and many of Micheal D’s supporters having stood down at the last election, he may find it difficult. Kathleen O’Meara is a name that isnt well known, so I have doubts that Labour would pick her as their candidate. As childrens rights is major issue at the moment, and a referendum on it coming up, Fergus Finlay is in a prime poistion to get the nomination.

For Fianna Fail no one has official announced for the election. Current Ireland South MEP Brian Crowley has in the past been linked with the Presidency and he himself has said he is interested. A name mentioned in the past has also been Bertie Ahern, but I think that has been discounted as an idea for now. A number of Independents have also been linked to possible Fianna Fail backing, with maybe a number of Fianna Fail TD’s nominating along with Independent Oireachtas members to show they arent a Fianna Fail candidate.

The Independents

A number of independents have declared their interest in running. Senator David Norris of course is the most widely known candidate and has the backing of one council so far (As nominations aren’t open he hasn’t been nominated). He has also ran into a bit of trouble in relation to an interview he did back in 2002 for Magill has now emerged and could cause him damage.

Mary Davies the Special Olympics Organiser and Managing Director for EurAsia has also declared hher interest in running. She would be quite well known from her current role and could do well if she can get a nomination. She has been linked with a Fianna Fail in the past in realtion to being their candidate, but has decided to go the Independent root.

Sean Gallagher from Dragon’s Den has also decarled his interest in running for the Aras. Having been linked to Fianna Fail in the past and been mooted as a possible candidate in Louth. I think he has realised that running as a candidate with Fianna Fail backing would be a death knell at this point.

Pat Cox, who hasn’t offically announced, is sending out feelers to the possibility of a run. He has been linked with possible FG backing. He is a former PD/Independent MEP and is a former President of the European Parliament. He ran the Ireland for Europe Campaign during Lisbon II along with Brigid Laffin and recently advised Fine Gael in the run up to the election.

Who ever gets the nominations this will be a very interesting race. Candidates vary in their ability and their appeal, so I think we can expect a very interesting few weeks in October/November.

Ireland for Europe still in the Red!

Ireland for Europe
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I got an email today from Ireland for Europe. I really wasn’t expecting to be getting an email from them.

It turns out that Ireland for Europe are still in existence as they are in a debt of about €150,000. They are blaming the spending of the no side for this.

So to tackle this they are organising an event. An €160 a head one!! I dont see many people signing up for this one!

I reproduce the email below.

Dear friend,Under the leadership of Pat Cox, Ireland for Europe ran a very successful Lisbon campaign and we collected significant funds through various fund raising activities. However, with the late escalation of the ‘No’ campaign we found it necessary to intensify our campaign efforts during the last two weeks and this has resulted in a campaign deficit of circa €150,000. We are addressing this with various activities.

One significant fund raising activity we are planning is a pre St.Patricks Day Gala Dinner on the 16th March 2010  to which we would hope to attract a wide range of people and the civic society groupings who have clearly benefited from the resounding Yes vote. Plans are at an early stage but we do plan to have a keynote speaker and suitable entertainment. Apart from being a fund raising event with tables of ten at €1600 per table (€160 per head), we plan that it will be a great Social evening celebrating the outcome of the referendum.

We would be grateful if you would note the date and event in your Diary and help us make a great success of the evening by selling tables for the Dinner. Fionnuala Keane (info@irelandforeurope.ie)  will be coordinating table/ticket sales and she will be pleased to advise you as required.  We will confirm programme details shortly but kindly reserve your table now!

Ireland for Europe was the coming together of Groups from throughout the country in a focused and concerted effort to do what was right for Ireland. You might feel that your participation in this final event will help bring to a conclusion this great National effort and to harness the energy for continuing engagement.

Best Regards,

Pat Cox, DirectorBrigid Laffan, Chairperson

Brendan Halligan, National Campaign Coordinator

Interesting…

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A new Political Party in 2010?

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2009 saw the end of the Progressive Democrats as they were wound up in November of this year, but word as reached me of the beginnings of a new party. It’s not surprising that this is happening. While small parties come and go in this country one of the backers of this party, is one that will get it noticed.

Now I would like to stress this is from a very reliable source who has delivered in the past.

It is said that the driving force behind this party is Pat Cox.

2009 was a good year for Mr. Cox who was one of the main driving forces behind Ireland for Europe. Through this he set up local organisations of mainly non-political people. These are people who he is able to contact and who do share some of his political allegiences.

Pat Cox did not set up and invest his time, energy and money into Ireland for Europe from the good of his heart, I am not saying that the ultimate motive behind Ireland for Europe was the setting up of a new party, but it could easily come from it.

It will be interesting to see if this comes about as the parties who have started lately have been small and not inspiring.

While a party can’t be built around one man, the support of someone like Pat Cox can mean the difference between success and failure of a new party. I wonder will it happen? Does anyone know any more?

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Roche, ELDR Vice President

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As well as the appointments made by the European Council last night (more on that later), another recent appointment has come to my knowledge. Dick Roche, the current Minister for Europe, has been made a Vice-President of the European Liberal Democratic and Reform Party (ELDR) . From what I am hearing, a lot of people are not happy about this.

Pat Cox, the former President of the ELDR is not a happy man from what I hear, and the youth wing LYMEC (who I have blogged previously about here) are also not a happy bunch. LYMEC are actually threatening to vote en masse against anything Fianna Fail put forward at ELDR Congress (which is currently ongoing in Barcelona) meaning that nothing Fianna Fail want will happen.The Dutch Liberals, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) I think (It could be D66) are not happy with the appointment either.

Fianna Fail don’t seem to making many friends in the ELDR or ALDE. This is the second time this month they have annoyed other members. I wonder how long they will last as Liberals?

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The next Irish Commissioner

Pat Cox
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There was an article in last night’s Evening Echo (Not online) that basically suggested that it is a two horse race for the Irish Nomination to the new EU Commission in the Autumn. They are tipping Pat Cox or John Bruton to be the nominatee.

The rationale behind this is that they are both heavy hitters. Cox is a previous leader of the ALDE Group of the Parliament as well as being a former President of the European Parliament. Bruton is the current EU Ambassador to the US as well as being a former Taoiseach. If the Government nominate Cox or Bruton Ireland could nearly be assured of one of the big portfolios in the next commission.

In terms of outsiders to this, I can’t see the Government appointing a sitting TD as they really do not want to face into two by elections. Eoin Ryan features on the Paddy Power website as a possibility, as does Maire Geoghan Quinn.

I have a feeling though Cox will be the nominee especially as Fianna Fail is now in the ALDE and ALDE would like one of their own to be the Irish nominee not someone from the EPP family.

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Bludget: Are we flucked?

So the bludget is tomorrow and as my boss said, the country is flucked!

The Government cannot put the blame for this tough budget on outside forces. They have been in Government now for nearly 12 years and must share some of the blame.

I was at a fundraising lunch on Friday for Colm Burke and the Guest speakers were Pat Cox and Brian Lucy. Coming out of that lunch I was depressed. Its not looking good for us.

So what should the Government do? Here are my ideas:

  1. Cut Junior Minister (I know they are cutting 5, so 3 more wont hurt)
  2. Means test or tax childrens allowance (Consider it part of income)
  3. Increase top rate of tax
  4. Reduce civil service
  5. Reduce TD/Senators/Ministers Pay and Expenses (10% seams like an idea)
  6. Scrap E-Voting Machines
  7. Increase the upper “Lenihan Levy” rate

Well they are my ideas. Not sure if I would go as far as what Brian Lucy wants which is to Nationalise the banks. Do you have any ideas for the Brian Lenihan?

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