Political voyeurs are in for a treat this Monday evening as the Louth’s Fianna Fáilers gather to decide who will be blemt for losing farming lord Seamus Kirk’s Dáil seat in the next general election.
Having been returned automatically last time around on account of being Ceann Comhairle to the 30th Dáil, deputy Kirk is adamant that his decision to retire is non-reversible.
A glance at Louth’s Fianna Fáil wannabes does not fill party apparatchiks with hope. Meanwhile less important party loyalists have planted themselves outside the Kirk estate and dangled actual carrots in front of him, but the farming doyen remains unmoved.
“We’ve tried everything to keep him going. Sheep embryos, spinal injections of blood from the Táin Bó…But he’s determined to go out to stud.” – PJ Ó Cúiv, Fianna Fáil National Constituent’s Committee.
The selection convention, due to take place at the parish pump on the road to Cooley, is expected to nominate career Councillor Declan Breathnach to run alongside the token gender quota woman, Dundalk born solicitor Emma Coffey.
Gender quota legislation advises that 30% of all political candidates running for office should be (in this case) women as Irish politics is notoriously a male dominated operation. Failure to comply is punishable by a fine hefty enough for a Galway Races tent donor to get his driver to check what change is on the dashboard. Earlier this year, FF’s sister party Fine Gael had similar problems during its selection convention.
The disgraced party provided listeners to Tuesday’s Michael Reade show on LMFM with a veritable treat on how to publicly present an omnishambles as four of the five front runners publically jostled for position ahead of Monday’s non-event.
Local barrister Anthony Moore took to the airwaves to decry what he saw as a selection contest charade. The powers that be have decided that there will be one candidate from North Louth and one from South Louth, which would seem like a reasonable thing to do for a party running two candidates (and in time honoured fashion, ignoring mid-Louth – the one thing all the parties can agree on).
Candidates were thrown a curveball when the party’s National Constituent’s Committee instructed that one of the candidates be a woman. The collective FF brain went into to melt down.
A wo-man?! A mná? Louth has never elected a wo-man to a meaningful post. Louth slash East Meath couldn’t, wouldn’t dare elect one…would they? Don’t talk wet.
If an artist were to draw such a concept the result would be Madness tickling Folly on a pogo stick!
But wait! The Shinners are running one! Shit. We need a wo-man. Does anybody know a wo-man?
The bottom line is that recent FF blow in Emma Coffey goes straight on the ticket. No other mnás put their names forward.
Mr. Moore was not a happy barrister. Ms. Coffey is from Dundalk! And only working here in Drogheda, the blow in! Drogheda won’t be represented, not really! Dundalk will get all the precious things like always!
This decision left only one space for the remaining candidates; a space with the bespoke form of Cllr. Breathnach.
All things considered*, Cllr. Breathnach polled reasonably well in the 2011 election with 7.5% of the vote. His running mate James Carroll did slightly better with 8.2%.** That makes a base of over 15% of the electorate. This is troublesome as it indicates that a sizeable population of Louth’s fully formed adults are suffering from either collective amnesia or a massive collapse of critical faculties. There is however the possibility that these people honestly believe, in a Sepp Blattery way, that as well as being the root cause of the nation’s distress, FF are also the remedy. This sounds a lot like an abusive relationship on a mass scale and a fifteen per cent return would take a seat.
That is provided the vote isn’t split. And that is not a sure fire thing.
It seems obvious that FF have brought in Ms. Coffey not to tick the gender quota box exactly, but to offset the challenge of Sinn Féin’s Imelda Munster who looks a fair outside bet to join Gerry Adams as the party’s second TD for Louth. Some lady face time on Cllr. Breathnach’s election posters would do very nicely thank you very much.
Breathnach needs Coffey to hoover up the female votes that Cllr. Munster has targeted – not many party’s can have a network of volunteers with images of their own party tattooed onto their bodies (Enda Kenny anyone?), so FF need to be organised and lady friendly. Transfers could then see one of them over the line.
A seat in the Seanad would be a nice way of saying thanks. It is a tactic used to great effect by FF for the mothballing of failed pump politicians. Do your time in there, get your mug known, maybe run in the European Elections and sure by the time the next general election comes around you’ll be wheeled out like new.
But back to the unfolding drama on the radio.
Cllr. Breathnach took umbrage at an LMFM journalist’s insolence when she questioned him (off air) about the democratic merits of a selection convention that meets to select two pre-ordained candidates. After hanging up on Ms. Keirans, Cllr. Breathnach then called back with a statement that had more fudge in it than a Cadbury factory.
In the midst of this, FF activist and declared candidate John Temple contacted the show on Ms. Coffey’s behalf to announce that he will be her Director of Elections. When asked whether he would be withdrawing his name from the (already decided) selection process, Mr. Temple said he would not give the other candidates the satisfaction, leaving the farcical situation of Ms. Coffey’s Director of Elections running against her in the selection convention!
The fifth candidate, Councillor Liam Reilly, displayed a cunning shrewdness by not engaging whatsoever in the drama. Anyone who has had the misfortune to witness at close quarters a group of hungry weasels fighting knows that the one hanging back watching the rabble tire is the one to be wary of…
Fianna Fáil’s selection convention takes place on Monday evening. Bring your popcorn.
UPDATE – Declan Breathnach and FF stalwart Emma Coffey were selected to contest November’s general election.
* His party ran the economy into the ground, Dermot MacMurroughed the IMF over and greased the turnstiles for over 200,000 young people to emigrate.
** Mr. Moore argued that while Mr. Carroll polled well, his Monasterboiceness naturally saw him shunned in Drogheda, backing up his case that FF and Ireland need a Drogheda born and reared FF TD.