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Editorial: Landscape shifts for politicians


Stephen Donnelly TD

Stephen Donnelly TD

Stephen Donnelly TD

The political landscape is continuing to shift and reshape itself beneath our feet. Stephen Donnelly is within weeks of launching a new party along with former Labour junior minister Roisin Shortall and Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy.

The grouping is making its move to avoid the stuttering and uninspiring start of Renua, the party that Lucinda Creighton was criticised for launching without any policies.

In turn, her hand had been forced by Shane Ross, who has been lining up his own alliance of independents since the turn of the year.

These three groups will battle it out in the race to hold the balance of power.

While confidence has grown in the Coalition about a prospect of a return to Government Buildings, Fine Gael and Labour are aware of the hits they are likely to take from the electorate.

Enda Kenny could well make history by becoming the first Fine Gael leader to be returned to the Taoiseach's office.

Labour may well continue to recover from the precarious position it occupied, teetering over the edge of a political abyss.

The size of their task seems great for both parties.

There is therefore a growing realisation around the Cabinet table that should ministers wish to return to their departments - or other departments - after the General Election, they are likely to need the option of a third source of support.

In truth, if the electorate does back Kenny sufficiently, he may still need to be able to build a rocketship, much like Bertie Ahern did in 2007 when he built a coalition of Fianna Fail, the Progressive Democrats, the Greens and some independents.

Indeed, the outstanding issue that may yet remain after all the votes are counted is whether Fine Gael and Fianna Fail will be the only parties with the hope of a realistic programme for government and the numbers to form that government between them.

We are all familiar with the terrible legacy of the last time Fianna Fail was in government and how its actions in power contributed to the greatest economic crisis in a generation, robbed us of our economic sovereignty and led to the political annihilation of the Greens and the PDs and the electoral evisceration of the party founded by Eamon de Valera.

How the citizens of this State shouldered the enormous burden since 2008 is a testament to our strength of character and determination. The key as we continue on the long road toward economic recovery will be stability and a workable plan for the future of the country - whatever way the numbers fall after the General Election. The voters are the ones who will decide, and they remain to be convinced.

Whenever the election is called - and clearly all options are being kept open at the moment - there are now just months to go.

So, the race is already on.

Time for all our politicians to pick up the pace.

Sunday Independent