The Next Referenda

 

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On Morning Ireland this morning Fianna Fail TD Dara Callaery suggested that the Government had a series of referendums planned for next year. The question is what will these be on?

Two we know of. They are the long awaited Children’s Rights Referendum and of course a referendum to abolish Seanad Eireann. But what else can we expect?

I asked for suggestions on Facebook and Twitter. There was some interesting answers.

Most people wanted a Children’s Rights Referendum but some other ideas also.

A referendum on Abortion was suggested. This could be two ways, one to allow it, or two to bring Ireland into line with ECHR ruling in ABC V Ireland and the X Case.

Another suggestion was to reform the Presidency. Reduce the age limit and the term of office.

Also suggested was removing all mentions of God from the Constitution.

A look again at Oireachtas Investigative Powers was also suggested.

So what do you want a referendum on?

Fianna Fail won’t Facilitate a Norris Run

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RTÉ reported last night that a party whip was being applied to Fianna Fail TD’s and Senators to stop them individually nominating Independent candidates.

Speaking in an interview aired on RTÉ’s This Week In Politics, Seán Ó Fearghail, The Fianna Fail whip, said the party would act collectively if it chooses to support an independent candidate.

This is seen as a blow to the possible return of Senator Norris to the race for the Presidency.

The Irish Times today reports on a possible reason why Fianna Fail will not be back Senator Norris. One source said that Mr Norris had been arrogant in his approach to the party earlier in the summer, when he needed only a few nominations. Another source described Norris’s possible re-emergence as a candidate as a “distraction” which was “of no concern” to the party.

A Fianna Fáil spokesman said the party’s position was that it had decided not to run a candidate. Once the nominations were in, it would look at those running and then decide whether to support a particular candidate. He said the question of facilitating a candidate by nominating the person was not an issue for Fianna Fáil because no one had contacted the party to seek such support.

The Irish Independent reports that Fianna Fail senators, in particular, are angry with Mr Norris over the way he handled their offer of support over the summer. Surces said informal contacts were rebuffed in a dismissive way.

“He thought he didn’t need us then, that he would get the 20 anyway and he basically thumbed his nose at us,” one senator said.

“Well, he can think twice if he’s looking our support now,” he added.

Another said he was “rude enough” and “didn’t engage” when the offer was made.

One FF senator said: “I wouldn’t sign his nomination papers if you put them in front of me in the morning.”

After the contacts, the Fianna Fail group in the Seanad met in July to discuss signing his nomination papers formally, and this was rejected by the group of 14 senators.

So is it all over for Norris? Or will he re-enter the race on Friday during his interview on the Late Late Show?

Polls Open 7am February 25th

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The Dáil has been dissolved by President McAleese in the last minutes. The date of the election has also been set. Voting will take place between 7am and 10pm on Friday 25th of February.

Any prospective Candidates have until noon February 9th to file nomination papers. People eligible to vote but not yet registered as electors may apply for entry in the supplementary register. Deadline is 8 February. The closing date for eligible categories to apply to the relevant Council to be put on the postal or special voting list is 3 February.

3.1 million people are registered to vote for the 165 TD’s that will be elected in 43 constituencies. The Ceann Comhairle is returned unopposed.

In 24 days the Irish People will have their chance heard. Let them say it loud!

TD’s Stepping Down

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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).

The full list is as follows:

FIANNA FÁIL:

  • Dermot Ahern (Louth)
  • Noel Dempsey (Meath West)
  • Tony Killeen (Clare)
  • Batt O’Keeffe (Cork North-West)
  • Michael Finneran (Roscommon-South Leitrim)
  • Seán Ardagh (Dublin South-Central)
  • Bertie Ahern (Dublin Central)
  • Noel Ahern (Dublin North-West)
  • Dr Jimmy Devins (Sligo-North Leitrim)
  • Beverly Flynn (Mayo)
  • Tom Kitt (Dublin South)
  • M.J. Nolan (Carlow-Kilkenny)
  • Noel O’Flynn (Cork North Central)
  • Dr Rory O’Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan)
  • Ned O’Keeffe (Cork East)
  • Noel Treacy (Galway East)
  • Mary Wallace (Meath East)
  • Dr Michael Woods (Dublin North-East)
  • Niall Blaney (Donegal North-East)
  • Brian Cowen (Laois-Offaly)
  • John Cregan (Limerick)

FINE GAEL:

  • Bernard Allen (Cork North-Central)
  • Ulick Burke (Galway East)
  • Paul Connaughton (Galway East)
  • Seymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan)
  • Olwyn Enright (Laois-Offaly)
  • Padraic McCormack (Galway West)
  • Jim O’Keeffe (Cork South-West)
  • PJ Sheehan (Cork South-West)


LABOUR:

  • Michael D Higgins (Galway West)
  • Brian O’Shea (Waterford)
  • Liz McManus (Wicklow)
  • Mary Upton (Dublin South-Central)

SINN FÉIN:

  • Arthur Morgan (Louth)

INDEPENDENTS:

  • Mary Harney (Dublin Mid-West)
  • Jackie Healy-Rae (Kerry South)

The Fianna Fail Heave

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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.

Can you predict the 31st Dáil?

Whitebox have an interesting prediction competition for the next Dáil. Fullhouse is an interesting tool to try and guess who will be elected in each constituency.

There is talks of prizes, but I would have done it anyway!

I have managed to finish off my prediction have come up with the following results:

  • Fine Gael 75
  • Labour 40
  • Fianna Fail 31
  • Sinn Fein 10
  • Independents 6
  • United Left Alliance 4

There are some interesting stats also on the website on various things. One of those is the non-incumbent TD to be elected. This currently is Sinn Fein’s Padraig MacLochlainn in Donegal North East. It also has the TD most likely to lose their seat, that currently is Fianna Fail’s Peter Power in Limerick City.

Its an interesting idea. What is your prediction?

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Will the Government delay the election?

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Today’s Editorial in the Irish Independent asks for that the following occurs,

On December 7, the Dail must pass the Budget. Then the Finance Bill should go through with unprecedented speed, to clear the way for the General Election.

Most people would agree that that is the way that the Government should be planning things, if the budget passes.

But are they?

According to Leo Varadkar TD, they are not.

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.

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5 Candidates for Cork South Central FG Convention

Cork South Central (Dáil Éireann constituency)
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I received a letter today from Cllr. Laura McGonigle announcing her candidacy for the Fine Gael Dáil Convention. This brings to five the number of declared candidates. Fine Gael is planning to run 3 candidates in the next General Election.

The other declared candidates are sitting TD’s Simon Coveney and Deirdre Clune, local Senator Jerry Buttimer and two Councillors from the South East Ward, Des Cahill and Laura McGonigle.

In the last General Election Fine Gael got 28.42% of the first preference vote. According to PoliticalReform.ie Fine Gael will get between 26.9% in the Ipsos MRBI poll to 34.3% in the Red C poll in Cork South Central. Fine Gael could take three seats depending on transfers, if the support is closer to the Red C poll.

The question is what 3 will be standing. The sitting TD’s obviously have a really good chance of being re-selected. The question will be who will be the third. Jerry Buttimer has a very good chance of being the representative as neither Clune or Coveney are based in the West of the constituency while Cahill and McGonigle are based in the East, as are Clune and Coveney. Jerry also has the advantage of having being tested in the last General Election. In that time he got 8.77% of the vote and lasted till the 4th count.

Des Cahill faced his first election in the local elections and topped the poll in Cork South East ward with 15.48% of the vote. Laura McGonigle who was also elected on the first count in the first count in 2009 in the same ward with 14.58%  of the vote. Laura was also facing her first election to the council having been co-opted to replace Deirdre Clune after the Dual mandate was abolished.

I think the line up for Cork South Central will be as follows:

  • Deirdre Clune
  • Simon Coveney
  • Jerry Buttimer

While I think it would great for Laura McGonigle to be on the ticket due to her youth, enthusiasm and experience, I don’t think she will make this time.

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Public Meeting on FairCare

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A public meeting will be held on Monday 8th of March at 8:00pm in Silversprings Morans Hotel Cork on the the new Fine Gael Health Policy “FairCare”.

Speakers on the night will include Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny TD, Fine Gael Health Spokesperson Dr. James O’Reilly TD and Fine Gael Seanad Health Spokesperson Senator Francis Fitzgerald.

Local elected representatives will also be in attendance. This is a good chance to find out more about the Fine Gael Health policy. I hope to be in attendance!

For more information on the policy see FairCare.ie

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O’Donoghue takes the Fall

So the Ceann Comhairle, John O’Donoghue is to resign next week. He has been under huge pressure to resign following the revelations of his use of expenses. But is he only the top of the ice berg? Are other Ministers (current and former) even worse? Or does this waste at the top go all the way down to backbench TD’s and Senators.

Who ever takes over as Ceann Comhairle must have the backing from across the house. That means there will probably be only one nomination from the three main parties and Sinn Fein probably mounting some sort of candidate also, maybe one of the independents.

The timing of the resignation is interesting. If the Greens don’t approve the new programme for government on Saturday and the Government falls, John O’Donoghue will be automatically re-elected. This also have implications for who ever is elected to replace him.

So who is going to be the next Ceann Comhairle?

The names that are coming to mind to me are Ruairi Quinn (Lab), Brendan Howlin (Lab and current Leas Cheann Comhairle). I cannot really thing of anyone else (mainly as I am tired from college!) Feel free to make suggestions in the comment!

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