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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Mischief smiling as electorate fries old party stagers on political BBQ

Just months after it reached a popularity peak, the Coalition is crumbling

Published 27/04/2014 | 02:30

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Nessa Childers outside the Dail. Picture: Mark Condren
Nessa Childers outside the Dail. Picture: Mark Condren

So are we really in the territories of a 'terrible beauty is born' and 'the centre cannot hold'?

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The centre certainly isn't holding, for a less than ferocious horde of Sinn Fein, Green and independent troops are pouring through the etiolated ranks of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour.

Ultimately, terrible is too stark a word to describe SF or even Ming unless you are a Labour, Fianna Fail or a Fine Gael voter. The weekend series of Millward Brown polls certainly make for miserable dining if you are Fine Gael.

In the case of Labour, that party, at least, is used to hardship. The fact that it is still even contending in Dublin having been chased out of the rest of the country is a half-result for the half-pint party.

Everything, though, has changed utterly for the eating your dinner in the middle of the day-style Fine Gael man.

Up to today, for that austere soul the political world was a grand and sunny place where God was in his heaven, Labour in its proper place and the FF snakes still chased away by St Enda. Well it isn't that way anymore.

Instead Fine Gael man is trying to deal with the appalling vista where its designated 'flower girl' Mairead McGuinness is trying to hold on against Luke 'Ming' Flanagan of all people.

And if that's not bad enough; in Dublin its young Prince Charming Brian Hayes has not merely trailed in behind a SF neophyte but is limping forlornly behind the alleged 'political pirate' in a flowing dress known as Nessa Childers.

The worst is not yet there, for with a clatter of left-wing independents all queued up behind FG's Young Prince; Hayes is in danger of becoming the new Gay Mitchell . . . and we're talking about that in a presidential election rather than a poll-topping in Dublin way.

In particular, the devil in the detail of the transfers that show FG are even less transfer friendly than SF.

Disaster is lurking for the man they now call 'boss-man' Enda, for at 15 per cent Mr Hayes is in these polls the political equivalent of a tethered goat.

He is for now in third place but the swathe of Green and left-wing candidates who are also mostly female that lurks behind means he will struggle to see off Emer Costello, Mary Fitzpatrick and even possibly Eamon Ryan.

It is strange to think that on the day the Troika left FG stood on top of the commanding heights of Irish politics.

Now scarcely five months later, they are experiencing a Groundhog Day-style reprise of their old pre-Enda role as the Fine Gael Family at War.

In the South constituency, far from contending for two seats, the two-and-a-half candidates will be gouging out their respective eyeballs to secure one seat.

If FG is wondering what has happened, the answer is simple.

The floating vote among the Middle Classes which the party so brazenly courted in 2011 has abandoned them.

Instead, a surge by Moby Dick to Sinn Fein means the latter are now the new king-pins; north and south of the Border. Come back Gerry, all of your forgetfulness is forgiven.

In fairness, when it comes to SF it would be inaccurate to call a rise fuelled by such charming candidates as TG 4 producers and community workers a terrible beauty.

It is instead somewhat more of a curious beauty, if beauty is the right word.

And perhaps the more curious thing of all is the political group that appears to be holding back the Sinn Fein surge.

That, by the way, is not Fianna Fail, which will, of course, attempt to secure some succour from the Brian Crowley vote.

But they would want to not place too much faith in such Gods, for Brian Crowley is more of a personal Independent Republic.

Those that vote Brian Crowley do not vote Fianna Fail after our man has topped the poll.

A more apposite measure of Fianna Fail's real standing, and that of its walking apology of a leader, are the other constituencies where the message being sent is one of 'no, we don't fancy your lot much either'.

Mary Fitzpatrick will on today's figures contend but she is not sufficiently ahead of a left-wing pack that will, to borrow the famous phrase of Liam Cosgrave, on a different occasion "dig her out and chop her up".

The party who with their civil war brethren are astonishingly trailing in behind Nessa are not safe in North Midwest either, where transfers will decide if FF is fit to win a seat in their old stomping ground.

Ultimately, their greatest troubles lie in the capital cockpit where astonishingly the old civil war parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail can barely scrape up enough votes to muster a quota between them.

And that may yet spell trouble for Micheal.

In contrast, it certainly is bliss indeed to be an Independent.

Mischief is smiling in the eyes of the electorate.

Dublin alone could elect an independent a Green and a Sinn Fein MEP.

Moby Dick has risen.

And as the rest of us enjoy the show the only ones crying are the old civil war parties.

Sunday Independent

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