“Not another one!” – remember that? It was some reporter a couple of years back, and he asked an English woman in the street for her thoughts on the announcement of an election. It came as news to her and she expressed distaste, horror – it was as if she’d been asked to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel for the umpteenth time.
I’ve never quite understood why walking to your local polling station every few years should be seen as such an imposition, but the media have taught us that we should be election –allergeic. Can’t say it’s ever bothered me.
But just when we’d finished what appeared a longish cycle of elections – Westminster, the local elections, the EU elections – there’s another one on the horizon. South of the border. The pundits told us it’s going to be in the first half of February. And for once they got it right.
Meanwhile, we’ve had a Stormont Assembly installed without the bother of an election .The British secretary of state and the Tánaiste have between them persuaded the local parties to enter yet again the echoing halls of Stormont and give it one last go.
How was it possible to get Stormont up on its hind legs again? Simples. Because Sinn Féin didn’t want not to be in government in the north, with elections coming up in the south. It’s vital that the Shinners show they are a positive party, keen to govern in the interests of the people. So while they may not have got an Irish Language Act or all that they demanded/hoped for, they got enough to make entering Stormont again seem at least an OK choice.
And the DUP? Well, while they had the Tory government in Westminster dancing to their tune, they really didn’t care too much about the local thing. But when Boris showed them what treachery really looked like, they needed to produce something that might make them appear respectable and powerful again. Besides, that RHI report has to come out some time soon*, so better being in place before the waste matter hits the air-conditioning. Hence the DUP have gone back to Stormont.
And that southern election? Well, Leo enters it with several pluses and one big minus showing on his account.
One plus is that he’s gay. And the southern voters are so afraid that they might be seen as being afraid of gays (homophobic to you, Virginia) , they feel almost duty bound to put their No 1 beside Leo and his party.
Even more important is the fact that Leo comes bedecked with garlands. After all, he’s the cool cat that got the EU to stand by Ireland and its economy if there was a hard Brexit, or even a half-medium soft Brexit. It wasn’t a matter of the tiny south faced with the might of massive Britain – it was gallant little Ireland as part of the EU27 faced with a Britain that now looked rather less massive. Nothing like having the backing of big mates for giving you confidence in a scrap.
And then Leo and Boris put their heads together and would you believe it? The border in Ireland took a lep and landed itself in the Irish Sea, much to the chagrin and indignation of the DUP.
And now Simon Coveney and Julian Smith, the British secretary of state have put their heads together and bingo! Stormont’s up on its hind legs again. So what with one thing and another, Fine Gael should be entering the coming election positively oozing optimism.
Except for one thing – the RIC. Yes I know they stopped existing 100 years ago, but they still pack a wallop. Leo and Charlie Flanagan went out on a limb and announced there would be an official commemoration of these good Irishmen. Incredibly and, for Charlie F at least, disappointingly, the population in the south yelled as one person “You will and your Aras!” and poor Charlie and Leo had to call the whole thing off. Yes indeed, huge portions of humble pie required eating, and C and L said the commemoration of these good Irishmen (many of whom had wives and children and mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and cousins) would be “deferred.” There were some that claimed the wording Charlie actually used was “De feckers!”, and he wasn’t talking about the RIC. But one way or another, the RIC thing dropped a huge deposit of rhinoceros poo on Fine Gael. Dampening, you might say, their electoral chances.
And even as I write, heavy gusts of criticism are coming in at Leo for the ghastly drug killings in the past week or so. He probably should refer them to Drew Harris, the Garda Commissioner, but daren’t.
So there you are: another election on its way and it’s all to play for. Now if the Americans could just find a way to push that murderous madman Trump out of office, 2020 could prove to be a memorable political year.
- Newsflash: they’re now talking about next summer before the RHI report sees daylight. They’re obviously hoping we’ll be bored enough not to care.