Friday, July 23, 2010

Fianna Fáil to move North?

Brian Cowen travelled to the Armagh village of Crossmaglen on Thursday to open the latest Fianna Fáil office in the North. This follows the setting up of FF forums in Fermanagh, Down and Armagh. Plans are believed to be in place to set up foums in Antrim, Derry and Tyrone in the coming months. FF already have large cummans in the Norths main universities.

All this poses one question. Will they be contesting the 2011 assembly elections? It is of course too early to say but according to one article they are.

“This is about a bottom-up approach and there is no question of us contesting elections in the immediate future,” said a senior Fianna Fáil source yesterday.

As the assembly elections are fought under the Single-Transferable-Vote system, their entry in to the North would not have the effect of vote splitting. Also it would be interesting to see where they would get votes from. Nationalist voters do not have a centre right pro business party to vote for so one would imagine they will take votes from both SF and the SDLP. In 2008 a former Ulster Unionist Councillor and businessman from south Down joined Fianna Fáil so it will be interesting to see how many votes the party can attract from Unionists IF they contest elections next March.


  1. This is a sad day for Ireland. Nothing wrong with a centre right pro-business party but Fianna Fail is a party founded on Devalera's idea of a a particular kind of Catholic Ireland and is part of the post civil war political infrastructure. It's time for Ireland to leave behind the gombeen politics and corruption that was always part of FF's M.O. Chances this shower will be swept into the dustbin of history when there's an election in the south and their organization in the North with it.

    What chance a new party originating in the North that wins seats in the Dail? Now that is something the whole country could get behind.


  3. Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin's last-ditch drive to stem seat losses in the Irish general election was dealt a severe blow last night with the departure of well-known party figures.
    His efforts to stamp his authority on Fianna Fail were thrown into disarray following major setbacks in a number of key constituencies.
    And there are still question marks over the fate of a number of senior cabinet figures.
    Fianna Fail was last night hit by the retirement of high-profile Donegal North-East TD Niall Blaney, who unexpectedly pulled out of the election race. He is the 18th Fianna Fail deputy to quit before this election.
    His decision to stand down for “personal reasons” has stunned the party. The selection convention in Letterkenny was left in disarray when a statement from Mr Blaney was read out to the meeting. His brother, Councillor Liam Blaney, may be added to the ticket.
    But there is also a threat of a split in the organisation again — just five years after the Blaneys came back into the Fianna Fail fold 35 years after the arms crisis divide.
    Such is the level of uncertainty surrounding the party that Tanaiste Mary Coughlan's
    spokesman was forced to deny strong rumours that she too was planning to withdraw.
    The spokesman said: “She is preparing her campaign as we speak.”
    And in Roscommon-South Leitrim, Rachel Doherty, daughter of the late justice minister Sean Doherty, withdrew her name as a potential candidate.
    The setbacks come as Mr Martin conducts a final sweep of Fianna Fail's candidate line-up before the election in the Republic officially gets under way tomorrow — but he faces several problems.
    And Taoiseach Brian Cowen was last night widely expected to confirm his retirement in the Dail tomorrow.
    Senior Fianna Fail figures in his Laois-Offaly constituency are meeting tonight in Tullamore ahead of the selection convention tomorrow night.
    And there are doubts if Mr Cowen's running mate John Molony will seek re-election.
    Despite a slight improvement in the party's polling fortunes, Fianna Fail's strategy is to avoid splitting the vote too much and placing further seats in danger.
    The party leader managed to convince Cork city colleague, Noel O'Flynn, to stand down to ensure the party won one seat in his constituency.
    But Mr Blaney's departure was not in Mr Martin's election campaign plans.


  5. The chairman of Tribune Newspapers plc, publisher of the Sunday Tribune, today confirmed that a receiver has been appointed to the newspaper.
    In a statement Gordon Colleary said the decision was taken by the board on the back of the decision by Independent News & Media plc (INM), a 29.9pc shareholder, not to continue funding the company.
    Insolvency company McStay Luby has been appointed receiver.
    The Sunday Tribune has struggled to build a sustainable business while operating in the crowded Sunday market. A key factor has been a disproportionate reduction in advertising and circulation revenues, reflecting the title’s relative size in the market.
    INM has been providing financial support to the Sunday Tribune since 1992.
    “The decision to call in a receiver has been taken with great regret”, said Gordon Colleary.
    He added, “the Sunday Tribune has been ever-inventive in carving a niche as a quality news title in the face of competition from much larger players with deeper pockets. We recognise that additional investment will be required if it is to play a continuing role in the highly competitive Sunday market.
    “At this point our primary focus as a board is to protect the interests of our staff whose efforts have sustained a quality product, despite limited resources. I also wish to acknowledge INM’s support over many years. My firm hope is that new investment can be secured to ensure the future of the title and employment for our 43 staff,” he added.
    INM today confirmed that it has committed funding to enable the receiver to assess the prospects for Tribune Newspapers, including funds to meet staff costs for the month of February.
    It also said it remains hopeful that new investors may emerge to safeguard the future of the Sunday title.

  6. THE Conservatives’ link with the Ulster Unionists last night appeared to be hanging by a thread as the Tories announced that they are setting up their own Ulster campaign operation.

    In a statement from Conservative Central Office, the party said that it would be opening an office in Bangor and that “one of the party’s most senior campaign directors” had been appointed to liaise with local Tories.

    The statement made no reference to the UUP and it appeared last night that it had not been communicated to the UUP before being released.

    The Tory statement said: “The party is committed to the development of progressive centre right politics which offer the electorate of Northern Ireland the opportunity to cast their votes for and participate directly with the national government of the United Kingdom.

    “The party will continue to review how Conservatives in Northern Ireland can play a full part in the Conservative Party as in every other part of the United Kingdom and senior Conservatives in Northern Ireland will work with the board of the party to develop that relationship.

    “Central to that development will be the party’s desire to see Conservative associations formed in every Northern Ireland constituency and an active programme of membership recruitment at a local level.”

    And, in a tacit rejection of UUP leader Tom Elliott, who has called for the local Tories to be disbanded, Conservative co-chairman Baroness Warsi said: “The Conservative Party in Northern Ireland has the unequivocal support of the party nationally.

    “Politics in Northern Ireland continues to evolve and we are determined to be at the heart of that evolution. Our approach will be one of active engagement – starting with the fielding of candidates in the local council elections in May.”

    However, the party will not stand against the UUP in May’s assembly elections.

    The statement comes just two months after a joint UUP-Tory statement which appeared to cement the two parties’ link, albeit in a format different to that of UCUNF.

    However, it appears that those who drafted that joint statement believed it to have been more ambiguous about the future of the relationship than it was read to have been by members of both parties.

    It prompted the resignation of the chairman of the Conservatives in Northern Ireland, Irwin Armstrong, who accused senior party figures of reneging on promises to stand candidates in May’s assembly election.

    However, following that statement a delegation of local Conservatives are understood to have travelled to London to press Conservative co-chairman Lord Feldman to allow Tory candidates in Northern Ireland.

    Last week a senior CCHQ official visited Northern Ireland for a series of meetings about the party’s future.

    The news comes after it emerged that the Conservative secretary of state, Owen Paterson, has rejected an appeal from UUP leader Tom Elliott — supported by the DUP and SDLP — to reverse the St Andrews Act changes to choosing a first minister.

    Mr Elliott, who had made the policy a key plank of his campaign to become UUP leader, said that he was “disappointed” by the refusal. The Fermanagh and South Tyrone assemblyman walked out of a meeting with Mr Paterson a fortnight ago when Mr Paterson made clear that the government had no plans to change the rules on choosing a first minister.

    Last week the Strangford UUP candidate, Mike Nesbitt, appeared to suggest that the UUP’s link with the Tories had weakened since December.

    He said that it merely meant that the UUP “will look favourably on taking the Tory whip” in Europe or Westminster, but only “on issues that do not pertain specifically to Northern Ireland”.

  7. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny managed to avoid Vincent Browne last night - but he was subjected to a tirade of abuse at a town hall meeting.
    Mr Kenny said he couldn't attend last night's TV3 debate because he had a rally in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, but chaos erupted when an unemployed man shouted at Mr Kenny for five minutes.
    Bobby Channels (33), a former road sweeper from Finglas in Dublin, asked Mr Kenny how he would create jobs.
    But he told Mr Kenny he could "smell it" off him as the FG leader replied.
    "That was a very vague answer you gave me," Mr Channels said. "I told you I was a road sweeper. You weren't listening to it. I can smell it, I can smell it from here, Enda."
    Mr Channels also used extremely strong language and criticised Mr Kenny for not debating Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin -- who he described as "a watery rat" -- and Labour's Eamon Gilmore, who he said was a "waffler".
    He also claimed Mr Kenny was "cardboard" and said he had taken everyone for fools.
    And Mr Kenny's handlers tried to suggest he was a brother of Sinn Fein TD Aengus O'Snodaigh -- a false claim.
    Mr Channels travelled to Leitrim for the event with his brother in law, FG party member Terry Ghusto, who took to the stage and apologised on behalf of Mr Channels.
    Mr Ghusto said Mr Channels had just lost his job; his sister had emigrated and his father was unwell. He told the crowd Mr Kenny would make a great Taoiseach.

  8. Ireland is on track to rehabilitate its banks while its economy shows encouraging signs of recovery, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.
    But further political turmoil could spark more "unwarranted" delays in the clean-up operation with significant challenges still to be overcome, it warned.
    An IMF team flew into Dublin last month to carry out its first review of the 85 billion euro rescue package agreed along with the European Union.
    In its interim report, the Washington-based organisation said Ireland was on target with a strict timetable laid down as part of the bailout deal. "The start of the process of overhauling the Irish banking system is encouraging, but the outstanding challenges are significant," it said.
    The IMF team described political developments ahead of the General Election on February 25 as "turbulent". The uncertainty was blamed for the reluctance of international money markets to lend to Ireland.
    The IMF also said public reaction to the rescue deal was favourable but noted there was a lingering perception that the pain was not being equally dealt out. But it added economic indicators suggested a modest export-led recovery was under way.
    Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said he agreed with the findings. "The report acknowledges that progress is being made towards recapitalising the banks, deleveraging, resolving non-viable banks and strengthening the bank resolution framework," he said.
    "I would agree with the IMF's staff assessment that while the good start of the process to overhaul the Irish banking system is encouraging, there are significant challenges ahead.
    "This Government has devised a comprehensive strategy to restore confidence in the banking sector and is committed to following through with this strategy."
    Separately, Mr Lenihan said he was postponing further cash injections into Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland and the EBS building society until after the election. He said he had informed the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank that the next government should be responsible for sanctioning any more funding of the sector. Mr Lenihan said the banks would not be affected by the "short delay".

  9. A former Labour TD has attacked the party while announcing he will stand on a United Left Alliance ticket in the General Election.
    Declan Bree, who is contesting the Sligo/Leitrim constituency, left Labour in 2007 in a falling out over its electoral pact with Fine Gael.
    A former Mayor of Sligo, Mr Bree is the third ex-TD to stand under the left-wing umbrella group, along with Joe Higgins in Dublin West and Seamus Healy in Tipperary South.
    Launching a broadside at his former Labour party colleagues, Mr Bree insisted the United Left Alliance was the real alternative to the mainstream policies of cutbacks and austerity.
    "The main opposition parties, Fine Gael and Labour, can only offer more of the same tired, old-style, crony-type politics," he said.
    Mr Bree will stand as an Independent and member of the United Left Alliance.
    The alliance has 20 candidates running in 19 constituencies.