Monday 24 October 2016

Daniel McConnell: Sinn Féin need this vote deal to end long-standing transfer toxicity

Published 28/10/2015 | 02:30

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams

In Irish politics, transfers are key. Under our system of proportional representation, transfers historically have allowed minority parties like Labour and previously the Greens and the Progressive Democrats to exist. News of this new left-wing alliance, which would see previously unaligned parties enter into a vote pact, is significant.

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It is significant because for the first time we see a genuine attempt by the left to coordinate an electoral strategy with a view to being in Government, as opposed to providing vocal opposition.

But the decision by Sinn Féin to support the Right2Change campaign is also significant for a myriad of reasons.

Firstly, Sinn Féin realises that it has to work with other parties and groups if it genuinely wants to enter office.

Secondly, it is a clear recognition that as a party it has to do something to overcome its long-standing toxicity when it comes to vote transfers.

That it topped the poll in both the Dublin West and Dublin South West by-elections recently, but failed to take either seat, is testament to that.

So the refusal by Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy and others to consider such a voting pact with Sinn Féin appears to have blown a hole in the campaign before it has really begun in earnest.

For them to realistically offer an alternative government, the campaign needs the Sinn Féin bloc of seats in Dáil Éireann.

Tánaiste Joan Burton could scarcely hide her delight yesterday when asked about the new group's chances.

"So it sounds like even before the parties get to the altar, they have fallen out, before they even got into the church, or wherever the union was going to be celebrated," she said.

Right2Change Campaign director Brendan Ogle - yes he of the ESB union fame - has for his part denied that a refusal to play ball with Sinn Féin blows a hole in the strategy.

He is adamant that there still remains an appetite for the left to unite together, but there is little realistic hope of any entity remaining intact.

Left-wing politics in Ireland is notoriously divisive. The running joke when one of these new groups get formed is that the first item on the agenda is always the split. Don't hold your breath.

Irish Independent

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