28 May, 2007

Great to be back

Ouch. That was close.

Let's be clear. A deal with Fianna Fáil would be a deal with the devil. We would be spat out after 5 years, and decimated as a Party. But, ... would it be worth it? Power is a many faceted thing. I met a few pals this evening and we discussed it all. One is in IT, another works for the fourth estate; another works for the UN and the last guy is an Astrophysicist who is used to looking at far-away galaxies.

Can you change Fiannna Fáil? No, if their only measure of success is cranes on the skyline. Bertie has got to move on from that benchmark. I worry about his moral compass. How can you lead Mary Fitzpatrick down the garden path by running her on the ticket and then apparantly leaflet every house in the Constituency ('in this area' mar dhéa), saying vote Ahern1, Brady 2 and Fitzpatrick 3?

Sure, Cyprian had to be rewarded after 17 years or so as the fixer, but dumping Mary in it on election morning? That ain't right. I still worry about a story told about Bertie when the old Sorting Office on Sheriff Street was still operating. A small crack in a pane of glass was letting in a draft and the Super wasn't prepared to fix it. Bertie's advice was to advice the post sorter to throw a brick through the window and ensure that the whole window got fixed. The advice worked, but no-one reprimanded the Super for not doing his job.

In Dún Laoghaire John Bailey has a bit of explaining to do to Fine Gael about a letter that allegedly came from Fine Gael urging voters to give their number one to himself. At least the highest spenders (as far as I can see) didn't appear to have been elected in Dún Laoghaire and that shows that money can't necessarily swing the election for you. Lorcan Allen would be proud.

On another note, roll on legislation that limits election spending by including the year before the election, rather than the artificial period of the three and a half week campaign.

Anyway our UN friend, just back from the Balkans is well used to dealing with fellahs who were carving their initials on their enemies' chests 15 years ago, so he gave us all great insight into the art of dealing with people who aren't your best of friends. He's as political as they come, and has great influence, but he's not in Government. My media pal seemed appalled at the prospect of a smaller party taking the silver, but I assured him that no-one was rushing into that sort of an arrangement. Our astronomer friend added a sense of perspective to it all. Give things time to settle down, and then take soundings.

Well, I've still got a lot of posters to take down over the next few days. I won't be rushing things. Maybe I'll even take some time off to see how the Mahon Tribunal unfolds.

Oh, It was of course the Pirates of the Caribbean III that I went too with the kids on Friday, not the Pirates of Penzance as I mentioned on RTE. I hope no-one was expecting me to think straight at 1 in the morning!

Dan, commiserations; Mary, welcome on board.

We're currently taking soundings; Mark Twain would be proud of us!

Postscript...
Coffee in Hughes and Hughes on the Marine Road this morning, and I'm absorbed reading the election results
"Look at this"
I keep reading.
"See this, see this thumb? That blister is from counting your votes all day Friday."
Well, said I, aren't you lucky that I didn't win by a landslide?

13 May, 2007

Oh Dear, Prudence


Ten days, and counting. The 'prudence' tag stuck in my craw slightly though. "...the Greens emphasise their prudence and sense of responsibility at every turn. ..." That was from Mark Hennessy's coverage of our Economics Policy launch a fortnight ago. Well, I guess it is prudent to save the planet, so maybe I'll just have to live with it. It sits uneasily with my introduction to politics while roaring through a megaphone at an angry crowd outside City Hall, but that was twenty years ago, and sure even Ruairi Quinn has mellowed somewhat with age.

It's easy to list the highlights of the campaign so far

1. Fianna Fail launching their Plan for Dublin Bay over the weekend. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, and all that.

2. Being asked for my autograph twice today (admittedly by two twelve year old children)

3. Seven days of fantastic sunshine after the election was called, and most of the posters up by that Wednesday, thanks team!

4. Opening my sister Susan's sculpture exhibition in the Dalkey Heritage Centre last week.

5. Canvassing with my cousin Kathleen on Friday, and receiving a master-class in American electioneering
"You got to work for that vote, compliment them, squeeze their hand, give them a hug." - -"Kathleen, I can't hug a 70 year old women, I'll be arrested."
"It worked for Bill Clinton, didn't it?"
-"Yeh, but look what happened to him"
"But he got to be President"

Eventually my sister pointed out that Americans run for office, whereas we stand for election, so we agreed on a less touch-feely routine.


And the lows...
1. Friday's Parking ticket, enough said...

2. The smell of Polypropylene on my hands from the election posters. (yes we are recycling them, into sewer pipes)

3. The old 'I haven't seen much of you in the last five years" line, and my far too flippant response "Well, we have visited 29,000 homes in the last twelve months, and I suppose I could get to more houses, but it's hard to be in the Dáil as well as call around to everyone all of the time". I should of course have used the line - "Would you like to see me every week?"

4. Canvassing Gordon Avenue in Foxrock. It seemed like half a mile between houses, and all we met were Polish landscapers apologising to us for not having a vote

5. Being turfed off the pier by the Harbour Company for displaying our 'Stop Climate Change' Poster. "This is private property". "But..."

Oh, the pic is of the team taking some time out on the beach at Sandycove last week in the good weather. Trevor's on the left, then Councillor Kealin Ireland my Campaign Manager, myself, Councillor Nessa Childers, and Councillor Tom Kivlehan.

Thank you team, for your trojan work, we're almost there!

03 May, 2007

Surely some mistake

Monday, April 2, 2007 (subscription required)
...Mr Bruton stood by Fine Gael's plans to made significant cuts to house stamp duty, which could cost the Exchequer €450 million annually.
"Fine Gael makes no apology for seeking a mandate to change this perverse, unfair stealth tax. Fianna Fáil's policy is driven by the developer and the speculator. Ours is driven by the interests of the family; the family that wants to buy a home for the first time; the family that wants to move in to a larger home with growing children. "Fianna Fáil does not want to help these people, but we do."

Saturday, 14th April 2007
FG Stamp duty policy to threaten 1,000s of jobs - Cowen
The Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen T.D. has called Fine Gael’s proposals on stamp duty ‘daft’ and said that the proposals will put thousands of jobs at risk.
“I was the first person to point out how daft the Fine Gael stance is. It is poorly thought through and will disrupt the housing market, put thousands of jobs at risk and threaten the value of everyone's house not just those who are transacting.”

Thursday, 19th April 2007
Fine Gael and Labour publish Protecting the Progress -An Agreed Agenda on Tax and Jobs
A Fairer Stamp Duty Regime
We will introduce a fairer system of stamp duty that helps make housing for all families more affordable. Specifically, we will:
- We will abolish stamp duty for first time buyers up to €450,000;
- We will restructure stamp duty for others buyers as follows:
o No stamp duty up to €100,000
o On the next €350,000 a 5% rate will apply
o On the balance a 9% rate will apply

Thursday, 3 May 2007
Fianna Fáil announces stamp duty proposals.
Fianna Fáil has promised to immediately abolish stamp duty for all first-time buyers .... Speaking at the launch of his party's manifesto, Bertie Ahern has said that Fianna Fáil's proposals for the elimination of stamp duty for first-time buyers will not drive up house prices.

...
It all smacks of desperation, and it'll drive up prices. Oh, the picture? That's me in London standing beside a protototype of a house that English Partnerships are building with the aid of Kingspan Century across the water in the UK for €90,000. Now why can't that happen here? Over to you Dick...