Archive for General Election 2020

A Day of Results

Posted in History, Politics with tags , , , on February 10, 2020 by telescoper

The results of Saturday’s election are not all in yet, but it is clear that Sinn Féin have come top of the popular vote, with 24.5% of first preferences. As I write this they have 36 TDs compared to 22 altogether in the last Dáil Éireann. They are unlikely to win more than 2-3 more so won’t be the biggest party in terms of seats, but the chances are they will be part of the next Government.

In my own constituency of Kildare North, Sinn Féin’s Réada Cronin won a seat, dislodging one of the Fianna Fáil incumbents, Frank O’Rourke:

As news came in yesterday evening of the strong showing by Sinn Féin, quite a few old friends from the UK emailed me to ask about my opinion. Some for some reason were under the impression that this result is something to do with Brexit. It simply isn’t. The campaign was totally dominated by domestic issues, especially housing and health, on both of which the existing coalition has clearly failed. The so-called `Irexit’ party (funded and promoted by Nigel Farage stooges) flopped in spectacular, as did sundry other far-right parties who tried to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment.

Others asked whether the success of Sinn Féin makes a United Ireland more likely in the short term. Although I would love to see that outcome achieved by democratic means, I’m not sure that this election result automatically brings it closer. For one thing, the Border Poll that would be needed to achieve unification is not in the gift of the Dublin Government, whatever its complexion. For another. a successful vote for Irish unity would require a majority in favour on both sides of the border. The hard-line unionists in the North would not vote `yes’ under any circumstances so a majority would require a significant number of more moderate or more pragmatic unionists to swing towards unity. That may well happen as the negative effects of Brexit begin to bite on Northern Ireland, but it’s also possible that Sinn Féin’s past association with violence may scare some of them off. We’ll have to wait and see. A lot will depend on what happens in the next few months.

There are also some here in the Republic who regard Sinn Féin as pretty toxic, but I see the fact that it is now a major mainstream political party as a very positive development for Ireland’s democracy. For one thing, they offer a radical alternative to the two `establishment’ centre-right parties that have run Ireland for decades. These parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, came into existence as a result of the Irish Civil War, the latter party splitting from Sinn Féin on the issue of abstentionism. After the Civil War it was not until 1997 that the first Sinn Fein TD actually took a seat in the Dáil. Way back in 1919, however, the First Dail was essentially created by Sinn Féin. It seems to me only right that this party that played such a key role in Irish history should return from the wilderness. In some sense this General Election could mark the end of the beginning of Ireland as an independent nation.

Update: here is a summary of the final results.

Polling Day Eve

Posted in Biographical, Maynooth, Politics, Rugby with tags , , , , on February 7, 2020 by telescoper

It’s Friday 7th February 2020, the day before Ireland goes to the polls in a General Election. I’m actually quite excited.

My polling card arrived a couple of days ago:

You don’t need to take this card with you when you vote, although it does speed things up a bit. The card is useful, however, because it tells you where the polling station is. In this case it’s the same place as in the European and Local Elections last summer.

A few days ago I came home from work and found this. It’s the only such card I’ve had from any individual or party during the three weeks of the campaign.

It’s a pity I wasn’t in when Bernard Durkan called around. I’m not going to vote for him, but I should like to have seen the look on his face when I told him who I’m actually going to vote for!

It remains to be seen whether the switch to a Saturday polling day will change the volume or composition of the turnout. It seems likely to me that the more important factor might be the weather: Storm Ciara is due to arrive on Saturday, bringing high winds and heavy rain. The local forecast in Maynooth for Saturday seems OK in the morning, however, so I’ll get my voting done then, but the storm seems set to hit Dublin just as the Six Nations rugby between Ireland and Wales gets under way, which might make things interesting.