General Election Ireland 2020
It was good to see the pro-abortion flag bearers of Fine Gael punished by the voters. The odious Minister for Health, Simon Harris survived in Wicklow but had to wait for the 15th count to scramble in under the quota, hardly a recommendation for his labours of bringing abortion on demand to Ireland. He wasn’t alone among the politicians who boasted of their pro-life credentials in 2016, only to flip flop in 2018: Regina Doherty who remains a minister despite losing her seat, Katherine Zappone the oddly named Children’s minister, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Lisa Chambers, Kate O’Connell, Tim Dooley, Ruth Coppinger, Catherine Noone, and others.
I wonder how Fine Gael’s analysts explained the success of those who voted against the abortion bill? Let’s congratulate them: Mary Butler,Seán Canney, Michael Collins, Michael Fitzmaurice, Peter Fitzpatrick, Noel Grealish, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Michael Lowry, Marc Mac Sharry, Mattie McGrath, John McGuinness, Carol Nolan, Eamon O’Cuiv and Peadar Tóibín. In my own 4-seater constituency, Dún Laoghaire, the election of Cormac Devlin, Fianna Fáil, strongly pro-life in a very liberal constituency, was the good news. He pipped past Minister Mitchell O’Connor in the 8th count, benefitting from the transfers of Mary Hanafin, a long time pro-life member of FF, John Waters and Mairéad Tóibín, two first timers.
The one error SF made was to put up too few candidates. Just how a party that lost so badly in the 2019 local elections suddenly became the darling of the voters in 2020 is puzzling. What were the people who voted SF thinking? Was it a protest vote? Or were they thinking at all? Was Eoghan Harris over the top when he declared that SF is “the only European party with an armed wing—marking us out as a rogue democracy.” To say that Sinn Féin is an odd party is an understatement. Its policies are a mélange of old-fashioned republicanism, “fantasy economics” and trendy leftish causes like “abortion rights”. Without doubt it has blood on its hands for its role in the Troubles, about which it has shown little contrition.
As the stage-managed transition of Gerry Adams to Mary Lou MacDonald showed, SF is a party that operates on semi-military lines, where decisions are taken in secret, and then its parliamentary members are given “orders”. Those who don’t comply can take a walk. Ask Carol Nolan and Peadar Tóibín, who by the way retained his Meath West seat.
The young “woke” generation who voted SF remembers nothing of the Troubles, and little of the financial collapse of 2008, and sucked up Mary Lou’s grand designs to solve the problems of housing, health and students’ fees. Sinn Féin has successfully rewritten history, posing now as the party of change, a defender of human rights and since the Good Friday agreement a builder for peace. FF and FG are in a hard place; both know that another general election could allow SF to sweep the board. Some people believe that the only solution is to give Sinn Féin its head to form a government with various leftist fragments, and make one awful mess of the economy. It would be the painful way of experience for the misty-eyed under-35s to recognise that they had been led up the garden path.