Seamus Duke Media

Seamus Duke Media Roscommon

Page 4 of 7

Election Blog 9 – SF Storm Blows Through Irish Political Scene

Election Blog 9 – Sunday 9th February (9am)

As storm Ciara rages outside there is a storm blowing through the corridors of Irish politics as the Sinn Fein surge has become a reality. From the exit poll results we have a situation where FF FG and Sinn Fein are now neck and neck on 22%.

Of course it’s early days yet and the final seats in many constituencies will be on a knife-edge. But there are a few things that are very clear. Sinn Fein will be difficult to keep out of Government whether it be after this election or the next one. It is also obvious that young people have voted for Mary Lou McDonald’s party in droves. They have really arrived in this election and are there to stay. The ‘big two’ cannot ignore and dismiss them any longer.

If the exit poll figures stand up it’s not a bad election at all for Fine Gael who were facing a possible melt-down. It would appear that they clawed their way back into contention over the last week of the campaign.

As for Fianna Fail the only consolation for them is that they will probably end up as the biggest party however that will bring huge pressure to bear on Micheal Martin with regard to Government formation. Can he go back on his word and talk to Mary Lou? If not, Government formation will be nigh on impossible and we will be back for another election in six months time.
But the story of this election are Sinn Fein who have captured the younger vote but they have been seen as the opposition to the Government, and it may well be a very different situation if they actually have to go into Government and make tough decisions.

It’s going to be a long day today but Ireland is changing and Sinn Fein are leading that change.

Election Blog 8 – The Prediction!

Election Blog 8 – Straight Talking To The End

This is the column I was not looking forward to writing because when you make predictions it is always there in black and white for people to look back on! Looking at the national picture, there are afew very interesting trends emerging as we look ahead to Saturday’s poll. Fine Gael are in a bit of trouble, and are set to lose seats, and Fianna Fail are set to gain some and look certain to become the biggest party.

But it is clear that there is a surge in support for Sinn Fein and that young people in particular are going to vote for them in huge numbers. The legacy issues that many people in older generations would have with Sinn Fein are not a factor with younger people who want a change from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.There is sure to be a big increase in support for the Greens and they will make significant gains. What that all means in terms of any possible Government formation after the election is anyone’s guess.

Will FF and FG join together to keep Sinn Fein out of Government? Will either or both big parties go back on their word and deal with Mary Lou? Would FF, The Greens, Labour and a few others have enough to form a coalition? All those questions and many more will be answered after Saturday.

I am making the following prediction for the various parties. I have put their 2016 figures in brackets. There are 160 seats this time, 159 and the Ceann Comhlairle.
Fianna Fail 55 (44), Fine Gael 43 (50), Sinn Fein 27 (23), Labour 6 (7), Greens 8 (2), AAA/PPP 5 (6), Independents 15 (19).

Locally it looks like Michael Fitzmaurice and Dennis Naughten will be re-elected with a huge battle now likely for the final seat. Fitzmaurice looks like he will head the poll. He has been a very prominent performer at local and national level over the past four years and the addition of an extra area in East Galway will be a help to him too. Dennis Naughten will probably drop votes, but he can afford to, and he will still be elected.

The battle for the final seat is going to be very interesting. Most people are saying it is a battle between Orla Leyden and Eugene Murphy, but my information is that Claire Kerrane is doing well and she could even double her vote from the last election (3,075). Aisling Dolan is also going to poll well, but her late entry into the race may well cost her in the end. She is not well enough known to take a seat.

It would almost be inconceivable that there would not be a Fianna Fail seat in this constituency and both the candidates look very strong. It is always very hard to unseat a sitting TD but on this occasion Eugene Murphy has a fight on his hands. I am going to go against the conventional wisdom and predict that Murphy will hang on by his finger nails. It will come down to transfers.
On the People this week I said that the same TD’s had never been returned in Roscommon but I was wrong. In 1982 and 1987 Sean Doherty, Terry Leyden and Liam Naughten retained their seats. I should have known not to listen to Philip Boucher Hayes and Barry Lenihan!!! (I should have have looked it up)

So my local prediction is Fitzmaurice, Naughten and Murphy with Leyden just missing out and a huge performance on the the way from Kerrane.

(Roscommon People)

Election Blog 7 – The Three Amigos Square Off

Election Blog 7

Wednesday 5th February

The Prime Time programme on Tuesday night was by far the best debate we have seen in this election campaign so far. None of the three leaders landed a knockout blow on the other although it was interesting to see the three main party leaders put under pressure by the excellent moderators Miriam O’Callaghan and David McCullogh.

So how did they do?

Micheal Martin: This was his best showing out of all the debates so far. Over recent debates he came across as cranky and bad tempered but he was assured and calm this time. He resisted the temptation to go for the Sinn Fein jugular and he concentrated on the issues. He struggled on a couple of matters including possible Government partners but overall he did well.

Leo Varadkar: This was probably his most assured outing in this election campaign. When pressed he appeared calm and he never got into a major spat with the others. However he appeared to be on the back foot on a number issues such as housing and health which was not unexpected.

Mary Lou McDonald: Was caught off-guard and struggled with the Special Criminal Court issue and was also on the back-foot on the Paul Quinn murder story as well. However she was able to take pot shots at the two major parties and she largely stayed out of trouble. I have a feeling that the legacy issues that would bother many older voters who can remember the troubles will not affect the younger generation who seem to have flocked to Sinn Fein this time.

There are only three days to go to the election and there are sure to be surprises on the day. There will be a surge of support for Sinn Fein and The Greens to a lesser extent and Fine Gael look like they will lose seats and Fianna Fail will gain some.

The fun will start when they try to form a Government.

It’s the biggest cliché in the book but…. it’s all to play for.

More soon.

Election Blog 6 – Sinn Fein Surge Now A Factor

Election Blog 6

Tuesday 4th February

We knew the dynamic would change during the election campaign and it has. It was clear from day one that Fine Gael were going to lose some seats and that Fianna Fail were going to gain some. It was also clear that the Greens were going to win a number of seats given the climate change emergency that we are experiencing.

But what was unexpected is the huge surge in support for Sinn Fein. In fact the way the polls are going the party may not have enough candidates running in this election such is the support they are gaining with every passing day.

Mary Lou McDonald’s party are now the most popular party among young people who want to see change. The legacy issues that many people of an older generation would have with Sinn Fein are not an issue with the younger set. Remember that the Good Friday Agreement is over 20 years old and there are a lot of young people for whom the troubles were not a factor as they were growing up. They see Sinn Fein as an alternative to Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. The Greens are set to make gains too so the two big parties are set for a shock with Sinn Fein now a real threat.

The situation in Tipperary is very interesting. The people there will not be voting for a few weeks after everyone else and while that means that there cannot be any Government formed until every seat has been filled, it leaves the electorate in Tipperary in a very interesting position.

They will go to the polls knowing the result of the election for the most part, and that is sure to affect the way they cast their votes. It will certainly mean a different result there than would have been the case if they had voted along with everyone else. But the law is the law and that’s the way it has to be. But it’s another variable that adds to the intrigue.

With four days to go and with the latest debate on later tonight it’s shaping up to be a very interesting election indeed.

More tomorrow night after the debate.

Election Blog 5 – Virgin Media TV Debate A Farce

Election Blog 5

Friday 31st January

I had intended this to be an update as to who seemed to be ahead in the campaign in terms of performance after the Leaders Debate on Virgin Media TV on Thursday night, but the programme was a farce ruined by the two so called moderators and Ivan Yates in particular.

It was one of the most unprofessional performances by any current affairs presenter that I have seen in 35 years of writing and broadcasting about elections.

I have fought tooth and nail with politicians of all parties and none over the years and many a serious row I have had with them, but they have all been elected by the people and deserve respect which was not shown to them by Ivan Yates in particular last night. At one stage last night Leo Varadkar was interrupted three times by one or both presenters in the space in 30 seconds.

None of the politicians were allowed to finish any point they were making as Yates and Cooper shouted, badgered, and insulted them. I was looking forward to the debate but instead I grew more frustrated as it went on. God only knows what those being interviewed felt like.

The debate only went to underline how far ahead the likes of Clare Byrne and David McCullogh are of the ‘Tonight Show’ pair in terms of professionalism and decorum.
I wasn’t surprised with Yates but I was with Cooper who is a competent and experienced operator but there is no telling what happens to a person when ego takes over.

For what it was worth Micheal Martin seemed to be eager to get stuck into Sinn Fein and Mary Lou McDonald while Leo Varadkar kept out of the major spats for the most part. It would appear that the main parties are now looking on Sinn Fein as a major threat. Whether that becomes a reality remains to be seen. Eamon Ryan was shouted down so many times that it became tiresome. He is too nice a man for a bar-room brawl which is what this was.

Brendan Howlin did well and was probably interrupted the least of all the participants. Mick Barry and Catherine Murphy were largely anonymous.
But this programme was all about Yates and Cooper to a lesser extent, and that’s sad. Roll on next weeks’ debate and a return to more normal political interviewing.

Election Blog 4- Castlerea Hosts Excellent Prime Time Election Programme

Election Blog 4

Wednesday 29th January

It’s just as well that the election has only just over a week to run as there is so much hype about it especially on the national media that people are already suffering from ‘election overkill’ with every word analysed to within an inch of it’s life.

I didn’t know what to expect from the Prime Time programme that was broadcast live from Castlerea on Tuesday night but it was probably the best election programme that has been aired so far. The opening report featured several well known local people from a number of different walks of life who spoke so well abpout the problems facing us in this county.

The live debate at the beautiful Arts Centre in the town was lively and covered a lot of the issues that are important to people who live in our county. However when it was over I was more convinced than ever that rural Ireland is in deep trouble. There were stories of long commutes to work, no young people in rural areas, pubs closing down and businesses and houses vacant while the east coast of the country is bursting at the seams.

Breege Callaghan spoke very well about rural isolation and the fact that there are many people in our county who will be lucky if they see any other human being from one day to the next. The absence of public transport in rural areas was also major issue.

But most serious of all were the people, particularly the elderly, who are now so scared and reluctant to go to a hospital if they are sick, that their illness is much more serious when they present at a hospital. They are reading and hearing of the trolley crisis and the long waits and it is putting them off seeking medical help which is a very sad situation. Speaker after speaker said that if there even some jobs in the county to try to keep at least some young people at home it would be at least something.

The plight of farmers was also highlighted. Former Roscommon All-Star footballer and manager of the Elphin Mart Gerry Connellan spoke very well about how people in rural Ireland and farmers in particular are being treated.

The big question is now- Is it too late? Are counties like Roscommon becoming resigned to being a place for the very young and. the very old ? I certainly hope not. I was born bred and reared in this county and have lived here most of my life. We deserve as good an economic future as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Whether the political will or the political capability is there remains to be seen.

Election Blog 3- Where Are We With Ten Days To Go?

Tuesday 28th January

Election Blog 3

There are 10 days of campaigning to go yet and to be honest it has pretty uninspiring stuff so far. So where are the main parties as we have a circuit to go as it were in the race to Leinster House?

Fine Gael: It would appear that the party are losing support although Leo Varadkar did well in the debate on Monday night. The problems that they have had with regard and to Housing and Health are overshadowing the success that they have had with regard to Brexit and Northern Ireland. At this stage are poised to lose 6 to 8 seats and will end up behind Fianna Fail.

Fianna Fail: It looks likely that the party are set for a gain of about 10 seats. But they are vulnerable to accusations of being the party that bankrupted the country by the others. Micheal Martin has bided his time and now he has a chance to become Taoiseach. But there is a nagging feeling that he has made a mistake being too adamant that he will not go into Government with Fine Gael or Sinn Fein. That could mean that Fianna Fail could be the biggest party after the poll but still might end up in opposition.

Sinn Fein: There is a lot of snobbery about the electoral chances of Sinn Fein who are set for their best election in many decades. Of course there are legacy issues that Mary Lou McDonald and her party cannot escape, and persistent accusations that the Ard Comhlaire are running the party are not helping their cause. That having being said I have a feeling that they will increase their seat haul by four or five and will end up with 27 or 28. It will put them in a very strong position when it comes to the formation of a Government.

The Greens: The climate emergency means that the wind is at the backs of the party and they are set to increase their seat numbers from 2 to 8 or even 10. They are unlikely to take too many seats in rural Ireland but they will make gains in urban areas and that will put them in a strong position in any coalition talks.

Labour: I felt sorry for Brendan Howlin in the debate on Monday night. He argued passionately but you got the feeling that he was ’yesterday’s man’ and he and Roisin Shortall sounded exactly the same when it came to policies. It looks like Sinn Fein have stolen the clothes of Labour when it comes to the centre/left.

Social Democrats: Unlikely to make any major gains as, in common with the Labour Party, they are in a very crowded centre-left place.

AAA/PPP: There are six outgoing TD’s here and there is certainly a ‘far left’ constituency out there for the likes of Paul Murphy and Ruth Coppinger but it’s confined to urban areas and Dublin in particular.

The Others: There are 23 Independents of various hues and there may be a few casualties here but the likes of the Healy/Rae’s, Michael Fitzmaurice, Boxer Moran, Dennis Naughten, Michael Lowry and Mattie McGrath will be back again.

We will have a go at a prediction next week.

Election Blog 2 – Every Day Is A School Day

Friday 24th January

They say every day is a school day and that’s the way life should be. Today the Drivetime programme on RTE Radio 1 was broadcasting from Gleeson’s in The Square in Roscommon Town. Philip Boucher Hayes, Mike McCartney and Barry Lenihan (watch out for him) were there to look at the issues and talk to the candidates in Roscommon/East Galway.

One thing I never knew was that Roscommon as a constituency, on it’s own or when they were in with other areas, never returned the same TD’s two elections in a row! So if that trend holds who is in trouble?

In my humble opinion Michael Fitzmaurice and Dennis Naughten will be returned. Fitzmaurice will probably top the poll this time and Naughten can afford to drop thousands of votes and still get elected. But the big battle will be for the final seat.

Sitting TD Eugene Murphy will have his hands full trying to fend off the challenge posed by Cllr Orla Leyden. In the last election the public supported Murphy after Shane Curran was put forward as a candidate. But this time around Leyden will be favourite to take the seat as she has built up a very solid reputation as a hard-working councillor. There won’t be much in it, but Leyden looks stronger.

Newwcomer Aisling Dolan of Fine Gael is expected to do well but she will suffer from a lack of name recognition and the further you go away from the Ballinasloe area the fewer votes she will get. I expect Claire Kerrane of Sinn Fein to increase her vote and there will be a showing for the Greens too.

It is two weeks away from the election and on the national stage Fine Gael will struggle to match their result in 2016 and are set to lose as many as 10 seats. Fianna Fail are set to become the biggest party and they could gain up to 10 seats. Sinn Fein will hold their own and may even gain one or two. The Greens may well end up with 8 seats mainly in the bigger towns and urban areas.

Labour will do well to remain on the figure they are at presently and the slew of independents will once again feature.
More predictions closer to the day, of the poll but at this remove it looks like we will have a huge problem after the election with Government formation and we may be back on the election trail again in six months time .

More anon.

Election Blog 1. Cocaine- Now we are Hooked!

Thursday 23rd January

An Epidemic

On the way back from Galway this evening, I listened to the Drivetime programme with Mary Wilson on RTE Radio 1. On the programme she talked to a GP who deals mainly with addiction. She also talked to an addiction counsellor from Galway City.

What they had to say about the level of cocaine addiction in this country in January 2020 was astonishing and frightening. The GP talked mainly about the huge rise in the number of people who are presenting with serious addiction problems especially over the past 18 months to two years.

However it was the counsellor from Galway who outlined in detail the extent of the problem. Several times he used the word ‘epidemic’ and said he knew and understood the gravity of using that word. He outlined that now cocaine is rampant and easily available in every village and town in Ireland.

Even more frightening was that apparently the use of cocaine is now being factored into almost every celebration such as weddings, parties, christenings as well as the rampant and indiscriminate use of the drug for social purposes.

Both guests said that it was very clear that everyone who is using cocaine was feeding into the gang culture that is growing at an alarming rate in the bigger towns and cities and the associated big rise in violence that we have all seen in recent weeks and months. The people who are using even small amounts of the drug may not make any connection between private use and the bigger problem of the rise in gang crime and what is needed is a massive education programme.

The picture painted by both these people was a very disturbing one and both were agreed that the powers that be and the politicians in particular haven’t a clue as to the extent of the problem. The GP reported that the age profile of those using extends from second level students up to people in their 50’s. The demographic was equally as diverse with people across the community from the unemployed to high flying professionals all using regularly.

The big question is, what will be the implications for our society going forward? It’s not an issue that I hear coming up in election debates.

It should be.

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2024 Seamus Duke Media

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑