News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

May 26, 2007

FF Considering Options

News about Ireland & the Irish

RT 05/26/07 Election 2007: FF Considering Options
RT 05/26/07 Election 2007: Complex Outcome, Says Kenny
RT 05/26/07 Election 2007: 40 First-Time TDs Elected
EX 05/26/07 Setback For Sinn Féin As Crowe Loses Out
IT 05/26/07 Adams Insists SF 'Still Relevant'
IT 05/26/07 SF Gets Wake-Up Call As Outcome Upsets Expectations
GU 05/27/07 Goodbye Mary Lou As Adams Fails
EX 05/26/07 Fine Gael Gains Come At Expense Of Labour Seats
IT 05/26/07 Smaller Parties Squeezed By Strength Of The Big Two
EX 05/26/07 Cut In US Flights ‘Huge Blow’ To Economy Of Mid-West

------Held Prior----After Final Count------Change-----Decr
-----To Election--(% of Votes Received)---------------% of
Party---------------(% of Seats Won)------------------Seats

FF ------78---------78 (41.6%)-(47.0%)------( 00)----(___0%)
FG-------33---------51 (27.3%)-(30.7%)------(+18)----( +55%)
Lab------21---------20 (10.1%)-(12.0%)------(- 1)----( - 5%)
Ind------14--------- 5 ( 6.6%)-( 3.0%)------(- 9)----( -64%)
PDs------ 8--------- 2 ( 2.7%)-( 1.2%)------(- 6)----( -75%)
GP------- 6--------- 6 ( 4.7%)-( 3.6%)------( 00)----(___0%)
SF------- 5--------- 4 ( 6.9%)-( 2.4%)------(- 1)----( -20%)
Soc------ 1--------- 0 ( ?.?%)-( 0.0%)------(- 1)----(-100%)

(Poster's Note: Without regard to expectations (or hype) about
how many seats parties were expected to take, the changes in
actual party seats are very important.

Using those criteria, the big losers were the Socialists (who no
longer hold a seat), the PDs (who lost 75% of their seats) and the
Independents (who lost 64% of their seats).

The only big winner was Fine Gael (who increased their seats by

Fianna Fail & the Greens were only able to keep the same number
of seats they previously had.

Labour and Sinn Fein each lost one seat. Though for Sinn Fein
that meant a much larger percentage loss of seats (20% loss) than
Labour's percentage loss (5% loss).

Or put another way, if some punters think that FF was going to
lose 8 seats and they don't, is that a victory? Or is SF
boastfully believes they will capture 5 additional seats, is it a
devastating loss if they lose one seat? Yes, but only if you
measure gains or losses against expectations rather than prior

The parties in government now (FF & PDs) lost 7% of their seats
(6 seats). That is the second highest loss of seats with only
the independents losing more (9 seats).

The two parties that wanted to go in coalition to take over
government (FG & Lab) increased their total seats by 31% or 17

88% of the FG & Labour's gains came from the Independents & PD's
losses (15 seats). Sinn Fein & the Socialists losses (2 seats)
only made up 12% of their gains.

Also it should be noted that while FF, FG & Labour had only 79.2%
of the votes, they won 89.8% of the seats. The other parties
(Independents, PDs, Greens & SF) had 20.9% of the vote, but only
received 10.2% of the seats.

However, we in the USA have learned a similar lesson the hard
way: you can be elected president, even if more people vote for
your opponent. That's politics! Jay)


Election 2007: FF Considering Options

Saturday, 26 May 2007 23:37

As counting in the General Election comes to a close, Fianna Fail
has won 78 seats and is now seeking coalition partners to give
Bertie Ahern a third term as Taoiseach.

Fine Gael finished with 51 seats, Labour took 20 seats, the
Greens won six and Sinn Fein ended up with four.

A collapse in the Progressive Democrats' vote saw their seat
total reduced to two, while Independent candidates took the
remaining five seats.

That number represents a major reduction in the number of
Independents, and is compounded by the spectacular the loss of
the seat of the Socialist Party's Joe Higgins.

Moves towards the formation of the next Government have already
begun - in an interview on RTE Radio today, the Taoiseach said
Fianna Fail had a 'lot of options' open to it, but that stability
was number one on his agenda, and the biggest consideration when
it came to forming a government.

That was a message hammered home by a succession of Fianna Fail
Ministers in media appearances today - stability, it seems, is
the key.

The options include adding the two PD deputies and a number of
Independents to the 78 Fianna Fail seats to elect Mr Ahern when
the Dail resumes on the 14 June.

Another is to form a coalition with the six Green TDs, which
numerically would be more stable, but might pose more policy

And then there is the possibility of a deal with Labour, which
would give a very firm majority, but would cost more in terms of
seats at the Cabinet table.

Young swing to FF, says Ahern

In the RTE interview, the Taoiseach declined to say whether he
would approach the Labour Party to form a government.

He said Fianna Fail had performed well in the general election
because of an upsurge in support among young people, especially
those under 25.

The Taoiseach also paid tribute to Michael McDowell, describing
him as a tough and bright politician.

Mr McDowell retired from politics yesterday after he lost his
seat in Dublin South-East.

General Secretary of the Progressive Democrats John Higgins has
said his party's poor showing in the election highlighted the
need for candidates to work 'on the ground'.

He also tipped Mary Harney to resume her leadership of the PDs,
describing her as 'steadfast'.

Dissent in FG, Labour

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte has also suggested Ms Harney may
retake control of the party following Mr McDowell's retirement
from political life.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael Waterford TD John Deasy has criticised party
leader Enda Kenny.

He said that the party needed 'an attitude change and a credible
leader' after it failed to secure enough votes to form the next
government with Labour.

The outgoing Dublin North-East Labour deputy, Tommy Broughan, has
also criticised his party leader's election strategy.

He accused Fine Gael of cannibalising smaller parties, and said
he never agreed with the agreement drawn up between the two
parties in Mullingar in 2004.

Mr Rabbitte has reacted to Mr Broughan's criticism of his
election strategy.

The Labour leader said he did 'what he thought was right'.


Election 2007: Complex Outcome, Says Kenny

Saturday, 26 May 2007 22:11

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has said the result of the election
is complex, and deserves proper consideration by all politicians
and party leaders.

Speaking to RTE News in Castlebar, Mr Kenny said he will set up
his own team to examine the options available to the party on
forming a coalition.

In a pointed reminder to the Green Party, Mr Kenny referred to
the fact that some Green Party candidates had been elected off
the back of Fine Gael transfers, adding that he had asked FG
voters before the election to pass their preferences to the
Greens after Labour.

Mr Kenny also said he would be talking to Mary Harney about the
options open to her and her sole remaining party colleague in the
Dail. Mr Kenny described Ms Harney and Mr Grealish as an
important duo to be considered in the context of what will happen
in the future.

Mr Kenny reiterated his view that the result of the election for
FG was spectacular.

He said that while the party had lost very notable people, the
result overall had been outstanding.

M Kenny said he was never surprised by what came out of the
ballot boxes. He also said he felt personally vindicated and
happy with the result.

Kenny staying on as FG leader

Speaking earlier, Mr Kenny said he intends to stay on to lead the
party, even if it does not make it into Government.

He added that he has no regrets about the alliance with Labour,
which he said had led to a serious challenge to Fianna Fail and
the PDs. It was the right thing to do, he said.

Asked about Michael McDowell's resignation from politics, Mr
Kenny said it had been a bad election for the PDs and the
Tanaiste had done the right thing.

He described Mr McDowell as a provocative and polarising figure
in Irish politics and as leader of his party.

He wished Mr McDowell well, and thanked him for his contribution
to the Dail.


Setback For Sinn Fein As Crowe Loses Out

By Harry McGee, Political Editor
26 May 2007

SINN FEIN'S ambitions of doubling its number of Dail seats
suffered a complete reverse yesterday, with the party actually
losing one of the five seats it held in the 29th Dail.

In one of the first shocks of the day, Sean Crowe lost his seat
in Dublin South West in the face of a buoyant Fianna Fail vote
and the strong showing of Fine Gael's Brian Hayes.

Mr Crowe, who topped the poll in 2002, was not expected to lose
his seat. However, on a day when the smaller parties were
squeezed by the two biggest party, his fate was typical of his
colleagues within SF.

The party had high hopes of making gains in both Donegal
constituencies and in three Dublin constituencies, North West,
North East and Central. In the event, its candidates were
eclipsed by a surprisingly strong showing in Donegal - Pearse
Doherty and Padraig Mac Lochlainn losing out to Dinny McGinley
and Joe McHugh - the surprise poll topper in Donegal North East.

The party's most identifiable figure in the south, Dublin MEP
Mary Lou McDonald was expected to put in a very strong challenge
in Dublin Central where SF came within 74 votes of a seat five
years ago. However, she attracted a little under 10% of first
preferences, leaving her - at the time of writing - with a
marginal chance of taking the last seat.

Elsewhere in Dublin, the expected breakthrough of veteran
candidates Dessie Ellis in Dublin North West and Larry O'Toole in
Dublin North East did not materialise.

As he arrived in the RDS last night, Gerry Adams accepted that
the results had been a setback.

"I think our people fought a very good campaign. We were clearly
squeezed in the surge for Fianna Fail. The people decided I think
only in the last week who they wanted for Taoiseach and they
wanted Bertie Ahern," he said.

"I lost a seat myself in west Belfast, and we came back and we'll
come back again," Mr Adams said.

Mary Lou McDonald said she was disappointed. "When it came down
to it was about who the people wanted for Taoiseach. And the
people overwhelmingly made it clear that that person is Bertie
Ahern," she said.


Adams Insists SF 'Still Relevant'

Marie O'Halloran
Sat, May 26, 2007

Sinn Fein reaction: There will be no fundamental reassessment of
Sinn Fein's position in the Republic because their message is
"still relevant", but the party "will regroup", Sinn Fein
president Gerry Adams said yesterday.

Arriving at the Dublin count centre in the RDS, Mr Adams said
Sinn Fein had been "squeezed" between the two big parties, and
the party's vice-president, Pat Doherty, said they had been
affected in Dublin in particular.

Sinn Fein's outgoing Dublin South West TD, Se n Crowe, lost his
seat and the party's best hope for a seat, MEP Mary Lou McDonald,
looked unlikely to recoup the loss. The party lost out in the
surge for Fianna Fail, Mr Adams said.

He rejected a suggestion that the party had fundamentally
misinterpreted the electorate and needed to take a different
approach. "I think the electorate went for the taoiseach they
wanted to see in power and that was Bertie Ahern and that's what
the entire election became based on, particularly in the last

He added, however, that "we need the economy to serve the people.
There's no point in us all being wealthy if we can't get a
hospital bed, if we can't get our kids into school, get creche
facilities. So that message is still there.

"And then in terms of Irish unity, it is still a necessary
objective for Irish political life and one that Sinn Fein will
continue to serve."

Congratulating Fianna Fail, he said: "Fair play to them, they did
very well." Asked how much of a setback their showing was in the
Republic, the Sinn Fein leader said: "Progress in this
jurisdiction so far has been incremental. There was an
expectation that we would do better, so people may be
disappointed, but they'll dust themselves down and we'll continue
to build incrementally."

One of the areas in Dublin targeted for a seat was Dublin North
East, and candidate Larry O'Toole said his personal vote had
actually gone up about 3 per cent, allowing for the constituency

"The electorate took a bit of a fright and didn't like the idea
of the alternative coalition," he said.

Sinn Fein "got trampled" in the rush to Fianna Fail and it was
"not about our politics, our grasp, or lack of grasp on

He said there would be "no knee-jerk reaction" in Sinn Fein and
they would be back to work on Monday. He added that "we're not
the only party that going's to be squashed". He said "Labour will
not come out smelling of roses" and the Greens had also been

c 2007 The Irish Times


Party Gets Wake-Up Call As Outcome Upsets Expectations

Sat, May 26, 2007

Sinn Fein performance/analysis: Sinn Fein had got used to winning.
Now it must regroup and reorganise, writes Mark Hennessy,
Political Correspondent.

Three years ago Sinn Fein believed it would have 16 TDs sitting
on the Leinster House benches of the 30th Dail.

In more recent times the predictions were lowered to 10 - less
ambitious, but still significant. Most inside the political
"beltway" agreed, regardless of what many will say with the
benefit of hindsight.

All sides agreed on one point: that Sinn Fein's existing TDs
would survive. Nobody but nobody predicted the departure of Se n
Crowe in Dublin South West.

But before noon yesterday, Sinn Fein's Dublin South Central
candidate Aengus O Snodaigh openly admitted that he believed
Crowe would lose. The reasons for his defeat will be much
analysed, though there is no doubt but that he was squeezed by
the late rise in Fianna Fail support.

Sinn Fein had invested much in the campaign of MEP Mary Lou
McDonald in Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's Dublin Central home patch.
Not only did she not win, but she fell five percentage points
behind the performance of former IRA prisoner Nicky Kehoe in the
same constituency five years ago.

Her failure is a bad blow to a party that urgently needed to put
high-profile people into significant positions in the Republic.

Though Kehoe had not wanted to run again, there is little doubt
that he was irritated by the party's decision to parachute
McDonald in without his agreement. Undoubtedly, Kehoe's
unhappiness was reflected in the lack of votes for McDonald in
his Cabra home turf.

The performance of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams during the four-
way leaders' debate did little to help the party's cause among
the undecided.

Clearly uncomfortable in dealing with economic and social issues
in the Republic, Adams sounded cliched and programmed. And he
suffered a few direct "hits" from Progressive Democrats leader
Michael McDowell over his ownership of a Donegal holiday home.

Given a second chance on RTE's Six One News, Adams did little
better, even if he did not do badly enough to drive away core
support. Unusually, Adams's performance was quietly criticised by
some of his own party members in the Republic.

Sinn Fein had hoped to make gains in Waterford with David
Cullinane, in Wexford with John O'Dwyer, and in the two Donegal
constituencies. However, the failure to make ground in Dublin -
not just in Dublin Central - will come as its biggest
disappointment, where Larry O'Toole and Dessie Ellis also came up

Last night, Adams argued that his party had suffered from Fianna
Fail's rise. But that is not the full story. Sinn Fein,
triumphant in Northern Ireland, has much to do if it is to make
itself a powerbroker in the Republic. More than it realised.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Goodbye Mary Lou As Adams Fails

Sinn Fein's poor poll results highlight the importance of the
economy to voters

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday May 27, 2007
The Observer

Over the last decade at every election local and national the
main hall of Dublin's RDS conference centre has echoed to the
triumphalist cheering and chanting of the republican movement.
Sinn Fein activists, mainly young men, have marked the election
of candidates with wild clapping, the waving of the Irish
tricolour and the singing of songs celebrating the exploits of
the IRA. Not any more.

This weekend the knots of young Sinn Fein members gathered around
the RDS, even the cadre from northern Ireland, were subdued. Some
were in shock as they realised the party's forward march had been
halted. Sinn Fein seats were being lost; targeted constituencies
were failing to return hotly tipped candidates; even the usually
eloquent Gerry Adams was unable to explain what had happened.

The party's reversal in fortunes was personified by Mary Lou
McDonald, its candidate in Dublin Central. The Trinity College
graduate was seen as the new face of Sinn Fein. Pollsters had
predicted she would take a seat at the expense of Fianna Fail.
Instead she polled just 3,182 first preference votes, nowhere
near enough to take the north inner-city constituency.

The election to the 30th Dail had been billed as the one that
would witness a major breakthrough for Sinn Fein. The party high
command had hoped that they would gain enough seats to hold the
balance of power or even enter government as a minority partner
with Fianna Fail. This would have meant Sinn Fein holding power
in coalitions in Dublin and Belfast. And in doing so Sinn Fein
strategists hoped to drive forward a north-south all-Ireland
ministerial agenda delivering what 35 years of IRA violence
hadn't - Irish Unity.

Today Sinn Fein will be lucky to return to the Dail with its five
original seats. They are more likely to go back to Leinster House
with four TDs. What is certain is that Sinn Fein will play no
part in the next Irish government, as the real winner in the
election is the party republicans had been boasting it would take
seats from - Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fail.

For Ahern, the election has been a stunning success. He has,
after Eamon de Valera, become the most successful Taoiseach in
modern Irish history by winning three terms in a row. Despite a
media-manufactured campaign that focused on questions about his
personal finances in the early 1990s, Ahern remained Fianna
Fail's prime electoral asset. On the door steps of Dublin and
across rural Cork he was mobbed.

At Fianna Fail party headquarters in Dublin late on Friday night
the party faithful came to pay homage to the man who had
delivered them an electoral hat trick. Ahern told them: 'This has
been a superb campaign by Fianna Fail. This is one of our best
shows. It's been a tremendous performance.'

He has been returned in a strong position to form a government
even without help from the Labour Party.

One Fianna Fail strategist told The Observer yesterday: 'The
party now has several options due to the fact that we ended up
with around 79 seats. With the handful of Progressive Democrats
left and five Independent TDs who had past Fianna Fail
backgrounds, we could make it to the magic 84 [the number of
seats needed to form a government]. Or we could talk to the Green
Party or even Labour. The Greens are seriously being considered.
The point about this result is that the ball is now firmly in
Bertie's court. We are in control of the options.'

Fine Gael, the main opposition party, improved its performance on
the last election in 2002. Enda Kenny's party reached its target
of more than 50 seats but they and Labour still don't have
anywhere near the number of TDs to replace an Ahern-led

Independent TDs and a number of high-profile members of the Dail
lost their seats as the two big parties swept up most of the

The over-arching message of the general election, though, is that
what goes on in Northern Ireland hardly impacts at all on the
politics of the Republic. Gerry Adams gambled that his role in
the northern peace process and his fame around the world for
bringing the IRA campaign to an end would produce a major
breakthrough in the south.

Paul Bew, Professor of Irish Politics at Queen's University,
Belfast, said the results proved that people's priorities in the
Republic are radically different from the tribal politics of
Northern Ireland.

Professor Bew said: 'The result shows how deeply rooted
partitionist attitudes really are. For the people of the
Republic, in this election what mattered was the internal
politics of the state. The attempt to introduce other issues such
as Irish unity by Sinn Fein was a complete failure.'

What Sinn Fein and other smaller parties also failed to grasp in
this election was that the key issue remained Ireland's economic
performance. Since Ahern came to power a decade ago, the Republic
has enjoyed unprecedented prosperity and unparalleled economic
growth. Although Ahern has also played a key role in bedding down
the peace process in Northern Ireland, he and his party
understand that it is their stewardship of the economy that
counted. Ahern and Fianna Fail obviously learned the lesson from
the 1992 US presidential election, when George Bush Sr tried to
play up his role in ending the Cold War. But as in America 15
years ago, so it is in Ireland today: 'It was the economy,


Fine Gael Gains Come At Expense Of Labour Seats

By Shaun Connolly
26 May 2007

FINE GAEL'S seat surge saw them within striking distance of their
50-TD target - but the gains came at the expense of Labour and
the smaller parties, not Fianna Fail.

Enda Kenny's position as leader was secured by the strong
showing, despite his failure to become Taoiseach.

The 4% swing takes the party back to its position after defeat in
the 1997 election, before the devastation of the 2002 rout.

FG re-asserted itself as the driving force of anti-FF opinion as
the minor parties and independents were smashed out of the way.

Mr Kenny insisted the party had done "outstandingly" well.

"You can't argue with the message of the people. From our point
of view gaining 20 seats is an outstanding success," he said,
refusing to concede defeat until fuller results were in.

Fine Gael made a strong performance across the capital with first
time candidate Lucinda Creighton regaining Garret FitzGerald's
old seat in Dublin South East.

It was a similar picture across the country as the party saw its
share of the vote rocket by 25% in Clare and re-took seats in
Donegal, while Brian Hayes avenged his 2002 defeat by being
elected in Dublin South West.

FG was also putting up a determined battle for the final berth in
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's heartland of Dublin South Central as the
Sinn Fein challenge failed to materialise.

High-profile candidate Leo Varadkar swept to victory in the
bitterly fought Dublin West constituency where the FG showing saw
Socialist TD Joe Higgins dumped from the Dail at his expense.

The party was also on course to oust PD TD Tom Parlon in Laois-
Offaly and FG was poised for three seats in Mayo where Mr Kenny
brought in a major personal vote. However, some of the expected
successes failed to materialise for FG with big name candidates
like Mairead McGuinness missing out in Louth.

A member of the opposition frontbench Denis Naughten was also
having a tough time of it.

As the traditional two-party system came back to the fore,
Rainbow partners Labour suffered, losing out in at least three
constituencies due to the surge for Mr Kenny's party.

Fine Gael rules mean Mr Kenny can now be challenged for the
leadership after failing to become Taoiseach.

However, it is unlikely anyone from the opposition frontbench
would stand against him, but critics like Waterford TD John Deasy
may be persuaded to force a contest.

Fine Gael was left with just 31 seats in 2002 after gaining 54 at
the previous 1997 election.


Smaller Parties Squeezed By The Strength Of The Big Two

Sat, May 26, 2007

Analysis: The election has almost brought us back to a 2 1/2-party
system, writes Stephen Collins, Political Editor

Fianna Fail's stunning election performance puts Bertie Ahern in
a commanding position to form a third administration in a row.

After an uncertain start to the campaign the party came roaring
back in the past 10 days. Fianna Fail will have to rely on
smaller parties or Independents to retain power. The position
will only become clear when all the seats are filled but one way
or another it will be in the driving seat in government.

The strength of the party's performance was based on a strategy
of defending all of its existing seats, particularly those that
were widely regarded as being under threat.

Resources were poured into the constituencies where the party
strategists reckoned seats might be lost and a big push was made
to promote candidates in the local media.

A huge effort was also made to run precisely the number of
candidates for the targeted number of seats and to split the vote
evenly between them. This worked like a dream in most
constituencies. It gave the party the kind of massive seat-bonus
it won in 2002 and which few people had expected to be repeated.

The irony of course was that the strategy did not apply to the
Taoiseach's own constituency where three candidates were put
forward for two seats and where no attempt was made to split the
vote on the first count.

There was clearly a surge to Fianna Fail in the last week of the
campaign. It is attributable to a number of factors. One of them
was the television debate between Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny but
the underlying reason was that as the undecided voters finally
came to make up their minds they opted for stability rather than

When push came to shove the issue of public services, on which
the alternative government had set so much store, were not as
important to voters as economic stability.

The outcome of the national campaign and the constituency
strategy was that Fianna Fail again came close to the overall
majority that eluded it five years ago. As in 2002 it was
something few would have forecast at the outset of the campaign.

An unquantifiable factor in the Fianna Fail bounce was the
Taoiseach's high profile attendance at three events to mark the
success of his strategy on Northern Ireland, the opening of the
powersharing Executive, the trip to the Battle of the Boyne site
with Rev Ian Paisley and the address at Westminster.

These events appear to have consolidated Fianna Fail's republican
credentials and to have denied much of this ground to Sinn Fein
whose performance was below expectations.

A remarkable feature of the election result was that Fine Gael
also came very close to realising all its targets and will come
back to the 30th Dail with some 50 seats. Fine Gael strategists
believed that if they broke through the 50 seat barrier and
Labour held its own they would be in a good position to get into

In the event the party came very close to its objective and
Labour held up reasonably well but the two parties did not come
close to winning office due to the unexpected vigour of the
Fianna Fail performance.

The strength of the Fine Gael recovery was almost as big a
surprise to the pundits as the Fianna Fail victory. The party has
now re-established itself as the leading Opposition party, but
the conundrum of how to make it back into government remains. The
mountain it will have to climb next time will not be nearly as
big but another stint in Opposition will be a bitter

When the election was called few would have believed that Fianna
Fail and Fine Gael would do well on the day. The belief existed
that one or other of them would have a good day and that the
shape of the government would depend on which of them it was. In
the event both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael consolidated their
positions but of course Mr Ahern and his party were the big
winners because they are the ones who will be taking office on
June 14th.

The reason the big parties did well and almost brought the
country back to the 2½ party system that prevailed from
the 1960s until the mid 1980s was because the smaller parties
were squeezed and the Independents were virtually wiped out.

The meltdown for the Progressive Democrats was widely forecast
and it was always going to be the toughest election in the
party's existence. The PDs did well in their first election in
1987 when Fine Gael was in decline. By contrast the party was
squeezed in 1989 and 1997 when Fine Gael did well. With Fine Gael
widely expected to do well in this election the party was always
going to be in difficulty.

The PDs attempted to meet the challenge by changing leaders last
autumn. Michael McDowell took over as party leader and Tanaiste
in an effort to try and meet the challenge but the strategy
clearly did not work.

Paradoxically, by laying into the Opposition before and during
the televised leaders' debate Mr McDowell probably helped Fianna
Fail to consolidate its vote.

He coined the memorable phrase that the alternative coalition led
by Enda Kenny would be in thrall to "the left, the hard left and
the leftovers", but that did not attract more support for his own
party. Whether the Progressive Democrats now has a long-term
viable future is an issue that will have to be addressed when the
dust has settled.

Much more surprising was the poor performance of Sinn Fein and
the Greens. It had been consistently forecast over the past two
years that both parties would gain seats and opinion polls
suggested that both could even double their numbers.

In the event both parties delivered very disappointing
performances. Sinn Fein failed to pick up the two Donegal seats
that almost all pundits had taken for granted. Instead they went
to a resurgent Fine Gael which re-established itself as the main
alternative to Fianna Fail in the county.

Worse again for the party, Se n Crowe lost his seat in Dublin
South West and the expected gains on the north side of Dublin
city failed to materialise. A segment of the working-class vote
that had appeared to be going the party's way in opinion polls
reverted to Fianna Fail in the election.

If the Fianna Fail rise put the squeeze on Sinn Fein, the revival
of Fine Gael had the same effect on the Greens. The party failed
to increase its vote as expected and, instead, some of its
leading figures were left struggling to hold their seats.

It appears what when it came to the crunch voters decided that
issues like global warming were not considerations that were
going to sway them in the ballot box and they voted on more
immediate local and national issues.

The setbacks suffered by the Independents was another unexpected
feature of the election. In 2002, more Independents were elected
than at any time since 1957.

The Fine Gael revival and the strength of Fianna Fail has reduced
them to the handful of TDs that have been a more normal feature
of Irish politics in recent decades.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Cut In US Flights 'Huge Blow' To Economy Of Mid-West

By Donal Hickey
25 May 2007

A SUBSTANTIAL reduction in the number of US flights in and out of
Shannon Airport could influence the decision of American
companies thinking of locating in Kerry or in the mid-west, IBEC
regional director Chris O' Donovan has warned.

He also said such a reduction in air services could have a
negative impact on tourism in the region.

Addressing the annual general meeting of Kerry IBEC, he said
having less services would also be a huge blow to the many
companies operating in the south and west.

"Already, there are indications that at least one American
transatlantic carrier will leave Shannon this autumn,'' he

Mr O'Donovan said it was likely that Shannon would have services
to only Boston and New York on a year-round basis in the future.

"This will be a huge blow to the many companies who operate to
the other regions of the United States and will also have grave
implications for attracting new US investment to the region," he

The IBEC director further warned that the change in the
requirement for US flights to stop over in Shannon could also
have huge knock-on effects for tourism in Kerry, with tour
operators using Dublin as a base from which to organise day trips
to other parts on the country.

Mr O'Donovan welcomed the Government's commitment to the long-
awaited Castleisland bypass, which he described as a vital piece
of infrastructure for north Kerry.

"The bypass will reduce local congestion, improve road safety and
promote economic development in the town centre. It will also
provide links to the Atlantic Road Corridor. With improved access
and effective connections to the Atlantic Corridor, Kerry will
improve its attractiveness as a location for foreign direct
investment," he said.

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister John O'Donoghue said the recently-
agreed Open Skies agreement, which would open further air routes
to and from the US, was a major boost for Irish tourism.

He also said new regional tourism structures under the five new
regional tourism development boards would help attract more
visitors to the regions. Grants totalling ?86 million have been
allocated to the country's six regional airports, with ?18m going
to Kerry Airport for a major upgrade and expansion.

Nationally, a growth target of 5.6% in overseas visitor numbers
has been set for 2007 and the aim is to achieve the 10 million
visitor growth target by 2012.

To Subscribe to Irish Aires Google News List, click Here.
To Unsub from Irish Aires Google News List, click Here
For options visit:

Or join our Irish Aires Yahoo Group, Click here

To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click HERE
(Paste into a News Reader)

To May Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
To Searches & Sources of Other Irish News
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?