Several readers of An Sionnach Fionn have asked me how I intend to vote in the upcoming European and local elections. Though some people might object to such a question I believe that it is a fair enough one. If you have a personal website that posts political opinions on a regular basis then one’s own political biases should be up for review. I’m open to the suggestion that journalists employed by the news media should be required to publish a list of interests as well as a record of how they voted in each previous general election. Readers have a right to make an informed opinion about the views of those they read, for good or for ill. So with the lists of candidates now published for both European and local elections here are my choices.
In the European Parliamentary constituency of Baile Átha Cliath / Dublin I will probably be voting in order of preference for the following with a little bit on why beside each one,:
1) Lynn Ní Bhaoigheallain, Sinn Féin. I’m not sure why the surname of Ní Bhaoigheallain has become “Boylan” but all the posters I’ve seen around the region read “Lynn Boylan”. More Anglophone-friendly? That irritation aside after a pretty shaky start Ní Bhaoigheallain has become one of the more recognisable faces of the newer generation of SF folk in the capital with the organisation apparently staking quite a lot on her future career. That may account in part for her views being given a limited airing by her PR-conscious minders. However she will be a much-needed voice for Irish language rights in the European Parliament. At the moment she is the capital’s second choice if the polls are to be believed.
2) Paul Murphy MEP, Socialist Party. Though on the centre-left I don’t regard myself as a socialist per se however Paul Murphy has been a great performer in recent months and I find myself agreeing with many of his views (which after all is what most electoral choices come down to). Unlike many other careerist Euro-pols he is not reluctant to put the hours in though this perhaps reflects his circuitous “co-option” route to the parliament. Just as importantly he has been very active on promoting the rights of Irish-speaking citizens and communities, in the process shaming MEPs from Fine Gael and Labour at the European Parliament for their despicable anti-Irish voting records. So far the polls have him lagging well behind which is a shame when you consider some of the candidates (of which more later)
3) Bríd Smyth, People Before Profit Alliance (or whatever they are calling themselves these days). I am not a fan of the PBPA to say the least. To my sceptical eyes it is simply a front for the Socialist Workers Party and reeks of old school entryism. And Richard Boyd-Barrett’s mixed record on Irish rights – indeed the lack of any Irish policy at all in the PBPA-SWP that I can detect – puts me in two minds about making a tactical vote. However Smyth’s personal record as a former Republican activist and a councillor over many long years is an admirable one. So this is a vote for the person very definitely not for the party. Though if the polls are right will it be a wasted one?
4) Mary Fitzpatrick, Fianna Fáil. Okay, this is purely a tactical vote and I’ll be doing so while holding my nose. Yes, FF are ill-deserving of the vote but the alternatives – Fine Gael and Labour – are somewhat worse. At least it is a Republican party. Er, sort of. And it does have a fairly strong record in the EuroParl supporting equal rights for Irish-speakers, as well as at home. That said I could still change my mind on this one. The thought of voting FF is making my political skin crawl. And I come from a – formerly – Fianna Fáil family… Nope, sorry, I can’t do it. Reading this just confirmed my final divorce from FF and all it now stands for.
So that is probably as far down the list as I can stomach to go. As for the rest:
Nessa Childers, Independent. Normally voting for Childers would be a no-brainer. I could forgive her political promiscuity and so-so record on the big issues like austerity, etc. However her shameful opposition in the European Parliament to equal rights for Irish-speaking citizens of the European Union…? I’d rather cut off my own right hand than place a numeral next to her name.
Brian Hayes, Fine Gael. Enough said. In any case going by the polls he certainly won’t miss my vote. Or several thousand others.
Emer Costello, Labour Party. The Labour Party is the wagging cock of the Fine Gael dog that has screwed the Irish people for the last three years so not a chance. I might as well throw in its dreadful performance in the EuroParl and poor record on Irish language rights, and even more so domestically.
Eamon Ryan, Green Party. I used to vote Green. Philosophically I was a Green. Then came the destruction at Teamhair na Rí and the lies of Green Party members in relation to it. Now I would never vote Green Party again. Never. Yes, there is nothing like an angry voter scorned.
Tom Darcy, Direct Democracy Ireland. I’m still unsure about the DDI people. There is a definite whiff of the UKIP/Tea Party about them. Maybe some of them are okay. But…
With the local elections I have yet to decide who I will be voting for largely due to the confusing mass of candidates contesting this time around. For reasons that have never really been explored my local council area, Fingal, has almost no organisational presence by Sinn Féin let alone any elected councillors (or TDanna). Which is strange given the region’s notably Republican character. This time around things might be a little different with the heretofore dominant Labour grouping facing serious trouble at the polls while Fine Gael and to a lesser extent Fianna Fáil may see a falling off in support. That could mean gains for SF and the already locally strong Socialist Party. The latter will be contesting the local elections under the banner of the Anti-Austerity Alliance in agreement with a number of non-aligned candidates. There are also people standing for the People Before Profit Alliance and the United Left (which was formerly an electoral coalition of the SP and the PBPA-SWP). In addition there are also some Independents who used to be with FG, FF , Labour, SP, PBPA-SWP or UL and some of whom still are so in everything but name. And then there are some genuinely independent Independents. Confused? Join every other Left-wing voter in Ireland.
Talking about elections has anyone else noticed a greater level of dirty tricks this election than in previous contests? I’ve seen election posters going up only for them to have disappeared a day or two later (Sinn Féin and the Greens). I’ve also seen posters for candidates that were facing the road or oncoming traffic being turned around so that they are now facing the opposite way with a rival poster taking their prime position (Fianna Fáil and one Independent). In my own ward I witnessed two locally notorious petty criminals putting up posters for a mainstream law and order party. Are some political groupings so lacking in members that they are handing out cash for activists?