Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tony Conboy's Oblique View - Thursday 16th October

The Election:

Roscommon continues its tradition.
In U.S. presidential elections it is said that; “Where Ohio (state) goes the country goes”. Roscommon as a voting constituency does not engender that conformity. The county has a reputation of de-electing many notable representatives over the decades. While I am not an expert on this and would not have the full run of evidential material to hand, from memory the casualties would include Gerry Boland, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Lenihan, Jack McQuillan, Sean Doherty I think once, Terry Leyden and so on. There have been a number of near certainties too who have come unstuck. Roscommon has also elected some pretty radical candidates including the aforementioned McQuillan, Tom Foxe, Ming Flanagan and now Michael Fitmaurice. It is a huge achievement for Fitmaurice to get elected from over the constituency mearing. Why did it happen? The reasons might include the following, in no particular order I suppose:
1.Disaffection with the established parties as a whole. More than a mid-term election for the Government. 
2.The quality of Fitmaurice himself as a bold straight-talking individual with a clever slogan ‘Standing With the People’. He was obviously well known in the areas of the pretty successful turf campaign. Perhaps the shadow of Ming was influential though I did not see him canvassing. It could be said that Fitmaurice came from nowhere. In the late sixties the New York Mets baseball team came from the basement of their league to win The World Series. They became known as, ‘The Amazing or Miracle Mets’. Fitmaurice was the stand-out performer on the Miriam O’Callaghan chaired R.T.E. Prime Time debate though not as impressive with Vincent Browne.  
3. The Tsunami of the Water issue was critical and seems like it will continue to be so.

Need To Do Better

The agenda of a number of the candidates was on highlighting certain issues, which they did, particularly O’Boyle, Guckian and John McDemott. Tom Crosby was on a more personal trip and was again let down by an ungrateful electorate as Emmett Corcoran emerged with a  very good performance. Martin Kenny, a solid performer, tried to stoke a Sinn Fein fire but was relying on Leitrim too much as the party’s fire did not catch on in Roscommon. I imagine this is a little puzzling to Sinn Fein since Roscommon was one of the earliest templates of its evolution. I imagine it will take quite a bit longer for people to forget Omagh and Enniskillen and the ‘disappeared’. Maybe the results in both Roscommon and Dublin will be a bit of a reality check for Sinn Fein in that its progress is not certain. 
Apparently Fine Gael are happy with the performance of Maura Hopkins but of course if that is so it throws up the conundrum of representation for the next election. Both John Kelly and Ivan Connaughton will be very disappointed with the result. Kelly was one of the better T.V. debate performers but the labour numbers just are not there. For Fianna Fail it has to be a big disappointment and the post mortem will include three elements which were key:
1. The candidate whose second general run this was, despite incorrect references to this being his first time out on R.T.E. twice in my hearing. Every effort was made but there is regularly the ‘nearly but not quite there man’. U.S. presidential elections are strewn with examples of these. 
2. Micheal Martin, while a reasonable party leader, does not cut the mustard as stand out Prime Ministerial material at present. Also there is an anonymity about the Fianna Fail reduced ranks as evidenced by an attempt to name say the Fianna Fail shadow cabinet. With prompting maybe McGuinness, O’Cuiv, McGrath (in fairness a pretty impressive contributor), Calleary then Charlie McConalogue F.F. spokesperson on Education and Skills! 
3. The Fianna Fail legacy of the Celtic Tiger/Bertie Ahern years (apart from his Northern Ireland peace contribution of course) is still very much on the file of many people.

Now to the Upcoming Real General Election!

This was just an interim By Election. What of the real thing locally? This will be pretty interesting. Dennis Naughten is seen as a certainty! Michael Fitzmaurice, with additional territory in the revised constituency boundaries, could continue to take the disaffected vote i.e. if the era of Independents is still in vogue. A year will hardly change that. Fianna Fail have a real challenge. Will they stay with their current candidate? Will he be interested? Who could Fianna Fail spring from the bench. Orla Leyden perhaps or the highly regarded John Cummins. Then there is ‘official’ Fine Gael who will have their own dilemmas. How they accommodate the sitting T.D. Frank Feighan and ascending star Maura Hopkins is the trick. Will John Kelly try valiantly again? I imagine Sinn Fein will want to be in the frame but it is hard to imagine a ‘new’ Sinn Fein candidate making an impression. The Hospital Action Committee say they will have a candidate and Tom Crosby promises he will go to the mountain again. Then, as on all provisional team lists, there is the versatile A.N.Other. While geography has always been a prime consideration Fitmaurice overcame that in coming from outside the constituency to win. He will be inside the tent the next time. Soon the question will concern the timing of the General Election proper and when that is revealed the race is on again.  

Boyle GAA Fixtures

Boyle Minors V Ml. Glavey’s in the County Final, division three, in Knockcroghery on Saturday the 18th at 1.30.  It is a bit of a wayward venue for this fixture.  

The U 21 competition fixtures for Boyle are as follows:
Saturday October the 25th V Michael Glavey’s in Castlerea at 4 pm.
Sunday November 2nd …….V Roscommon Gaels in Hyde Park at 1 pm.
Sunday Nov. 9th ……………….V Padraig Pearses at 1 pm.
There is an ongoing dilemma with the very late scheduling of this competition and this has been so for a long time now. I remember Boyle being involved in competition  end-games either side of Christmas not too long ago. I see the Boyle V Kilmore senior league game has still to be played! 

The Budget

Yeats said that; “Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy”. This is the most oblique view of the budget that I can muster. 
I’ll damage that line now by asking a question that about the water charges. What if 50% of people-including myself- pay the water charges leaving say 30% of eligible payers not paying? There is the prospect of an injustice there. The water company’s slogan is “We are on a journey together”. The ‘together’ element is getting somewhat frayed.  

Ebola threat:

This is a global threat. We were being reassured that there were no direct flights from the affected countries to Dublin. Fine. But then we hear that a ship comes in to Dublin Port from that area with little or no intervention. There is also the curious situation that it was the Minister for Agriculture who initially spoke on the matter. But then when one looks up Minister Coveney’s areas of responsibility  it can be seen that he is; The Minister for Agriculture/Food/The Marine and Defence. Some multi-tasking there. Echoes of Ray Burke and latterly Brian Cowan. For Ireland the best way of defence against this threat would be exclusion as the old adage shouts ‘if something can go wrong it will’.    


To Kevin Hickey who climbed Croagh last Sunday for charity. His mentor  en route was Danny Doherty. Perhaps he encouraged Kevin with a song from The Sound of Music.

Just a hello to Sean Mullaney, formerly of Rockingham and St. Mary’s College, and his good wife who now live in Canada. I met them recently in Boyle and they were continuing their holiday in Europe which I hope lived up to its possibilities.   

Next Week

Next week is shaping up to be a very busy one in Boyle town with Chris O’Dowd centre stage as he receives The Freedom of Roscommon and the launch of his and his co-writer’s Moone Boy book. 

John Spillane will be on T.V. on Tuesday and Thursday with his Boyle song programme and he will be in town in person launching his C.D. in Wynne’s on Thursday. On the GAA front there is a T.V. programme called Insiders on R.T.E. featuring Tommy Kenoy and his drive to amend the GAA rule to allow ‘foreign’ games in Croke Park also on Tuesday night.

Singer James Kilbane performs in the Church of Ireland on Friday at 8. This is in aid of the Church re-roofing project.

Sin é

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