Sunday 23 November 2014

Bertie’s hated ‘peann luaidhe’ to stay

No stomach for electronic voting

Published 25/05/2014 | 15:36

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

ONE of the most iconic moments in boxing history is the ‘long count’ where the attempt by Jack Dempsey to win back the heavy weight title was stymied by an alleged excessively ‘long count’ after Gene Tunney was knocked down in the seventh round of their battle.

The failure of Dempsey, who subsequently lost, to walk back to a neutral corner, meant Tunney had 13 seconds rather than 10 to recover.

The ensuing decades of controversy (for sensible people take boxing far more seriously than politics) meant the fight between the two legends went down in history as ‘The Long Count Fight’.

Now Irish politics has its own version of the ‘long count’ as the EU and even the local elections dawdle past Monday and into Tuesday.

Whatever about the European elections it is somewhat astonishing that it would take us four days to sort out the last seat in councils smaller than Luxemburg incorporating candidates who have polled less than a thousand votes.

The local election long count debacle has already sparked calls for a renewed attack on the old fashioned ‘‘peann luaidhe’’ method of voting which Bertie planned to replace with all those electronic voting machines.

However does any government want to risk a reprise of that particular debacle?

Failed experiments are rarely granted second chances in Irish politics and in a scenario where we can’t afford medical cards for Down Syndrome babies it is doubtful the electorate would take too kindly to another fifty million Euro punt.

Any renewed onslaught on Bertie’s hated ‘‘peann luaidhe’s’’ is also complicated by the need for some theatre in politics if the interest of the citizen is to be maintained.

And in the age of the Grumpy Old Men, the Fianna Fail nice boys and the Sinn Fein political Scientologists election counts are about the last location where one can find a bit of drama and some pantomime to in Irish politics.

We could simplify the whole affair by replacing PR with the straight vote but ... well one suspect’s the trust is not there for that particular move.

It all suggests that despite the unhappiness politicians and political Larry David’s style nerds will have to Curb Their Enthusiasm for change and simply learn to live with the long counts.

After all the civil servants on double time are coping perfectly well.

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