Wednesday 16 January 2019

So, how many new parties will be on the hunt for your vote?

We will be spoilt for choice when it comes to McDowell's famous 'market in the gap'

Michael Fitzmaurice TD
Michael Fitzmaurice TD

John Drennan

The announcement by Michael Fitzmaurice that he was planning to set up a new party, provisionally titled Tua Nua, means that a minimum of nine parties are now competing for a slice of the 32pc non-party voter pie.

So who are these new parties who may be a attempting to secure your vote in 2015?

The Centre Right

1. The Reform Alliance

Consisting of former FG deputies, led by Lucinda Creighton, who broke away from FG over a combination of abortion, the nature of life under Enda and a belief in the need for reform.

TDs who are closely aligned are Billy Timmins, Peter Mathews and Terence Flanagan whilst Denis Naughten is far more loosely aligned.

2. The Shane Ross Gang

Driven by Shane Ross, its intention and ideology are unclear. To date the Independents most closely associated with it are Stephen Donnelly and Finian Mc Grath.

It should be noted in passing that the Reform Alliance would also have bad intentions when it comes to the much coveted Mr Donnelly.

The Centre Muddled

3. The Michael Fitzmaurice party

Temporarily called Tua Nua, to date the most high-profile aspirant member outside of Mr Fitzmaurice, is Mattie McGrath. Aspires, in so far as we can see, to be a catch-all movement of ordinary working people - a sort of Fianna Fail crossed with Clann na Poblachta.

4. The Left Alliance

Driven by John Halligan, it hopes to create a centre- left party. Those who are associated with it are Catherine Murphy, Maureen O'Sullivan and, oh here he is again, Finian McGrath.

5. The Roisin Shorthall and Tommy Broughan party

Any ambitions Roisin may have had to set up a new party with Tommy will have been chilled by today's poll.

6. The Mick Wallace and Clare Daly party

These are quixotic, essentially left contrarians who have been cast into outer darkness by the hard left. Sadly, they lost a third of their numbers when Ming went into voluntary exile in Europe.

The Split Socialists

This is a complicated subset of hard left TDs, consisting of:

7. The Socialist Party

Driven by Joe Higgins, it has recently acquired Paul Murphy and Ruth Coppinger and, after a period of decline, has moved into a position of ascendancy amongst the feuding lefties.

8. The Socialist Workers Party

This consists of Richard Boyd Barrett and . . . well that's actually it.

9. Workers and Unemployed Action Group

This consists of Seamus Healy and well after that we are in Richard Boyd Barrett country.

Ordinary Decent Independents

When it comes to our nine parties recruiting, they will be casting covetous eyes on a special group of virgin Independents whose long-term intentions are somewhat unclear.

These include Tom Fleming (formerly FF); Noel Grealish (former PD); Michael Healy Rae; Thomas Pringle; and senators such as Gerard Craughwell and the former Labour senator James Heffernan.

The parties will also be fighting over a select group of Independents, such as Stephen Donnelly, Finian McGrath, Roisin Shorthall, Denis Naughten and Tommy Broughan whose intentions are not yet clear.

Sadly, before our aspirant party leaders get too excited, they should remember Machiavelli's warning that nothing is more dangerous or full of risk than the creation of a new political movement.

Everything now is a case of stars (and seats) in their eyes. However, there are plenty of ghosts and shipwrecks, such as the failed ambitions of Declan Ganley and the snubbed dreams of Michael McDowell, that can attest to just how many rocks and shallows lie waiting for those who would be king of the Independents.

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