Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to begin coalition talks following tomorrow’s Dáil meeting

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Credit: The Guardian

Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced in Brussels yesterday that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will begin talks on forming a coalition after the Dáil meets tomorrow.

Mr Noonan also suggested that Fine Gael would be open to discussing issues relating to Irish Water, although they will not compromise on the precise structure of water charges.

AAA-PBP TD Gino Kenny believes, however, that this the beginning of the end of the water charges. “The contagion has set in,” he said on Claire Byrne Live on Monday night.

Enda Kenny admitted on Monday that he does not expect to be re-elected as Taoiseach. He indicated that a Taoiseach will not be elected when the 32nd Dáil meets for the first time tomorrow.

If Mr Kenny is not re-elected as Taoiseach, he will be forced to resign, under constitutional law. His party may then have to begin talks with Fianna Fáil about a coalition.

Talks continued between Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance in Leinster House yesterday. The alliance have not indicated whether they will support Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

Shane Ross of the Independent Alliance defended his comment about Taoiseach Enda Kenny being “a political corpse”. He also said that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin brought more energy to his talks with the Independents.

When asked about which of the leaders he would be supporting, Independent Alliance TD Michael Fitzmaurice said: “It’s the first meetings. You’re not going to jump into bed with someone on your first meeting.” He was interviewed alongside Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó’Cuív on Claire Byrne Live on Monday night.

158 TDs will gather in Leinster House tomorrow to cast their votes on who they want to lead the next government. Enda Kenny, Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams are all set to be nominated for Taoiseach.

Aoibheann Diver

Gerry Adams to be nominated for Taoiseach

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Credit: Irish Independent

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams will stand for the position of Taoiseach on Thursday in the Dáil.

This move to stand for the position is monumental as it ensures that no party will have a majority when the 32nd Dáil commences this week. If Gerry Adams had not announced this move, it seemed certain that Enda Kenny or Michéal Martin would be elected with the support of the Independents and smaller parties.

Deputy Adams said in a statement today that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are delaying giving the Irish people a Government that is needed to make decisions.

His official statement on announcing his nomination was as follows:

“Sinn Féin fought this election to seek a mandate to lead a progressive government based on the principles of equality and fairness, a commitment to build public services, to deliver relief to hard pressed families and citizens and to develop the peace process and a for Irish unity.

“As the party with the largest number of votes on the island, as the largest bloc within the Right2Change movement and as the third largest party in the Dáil and the main party of the working class in this State, it is incumbent on Sinn Féin to nominate a candidate for the position of Taoiseach when the Dáil resumes.

“Those who are homeless and those on hospital trolleys can’t wait for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – two parties with the same political philosophy and policies, with the numbers to do a deal – to try and figure out how they can control both sides of the Dáil. It is completely unacceptable.

“Sinn Féin will push for the Dáil to continue sitting, even if a Government is not formed on Thursday, to ensure ministers are held accountable for their decisions and to ensure accountability on the issues affecting citizens.”

Katie Fleming

Political parties encouraged to invite more women to fill vacant council seats

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Credit: Irish Times

The Women for Election organisation has called on political parties to see the co-opting of seats as an opportunity to increase the amount of women in their party.

“As we examine the results of GE16 it is evident that the results present the parties with a unique opportunity to increase the women in their ranks,” said Suzanne Collins, Director of Campaigns for Women for Election.

The amount of women in the 32nd Dail stands at 22%, an increase on the 31st Dail’s 16%.

This election marked the introduction of the gender quota, which saw a political party’s state funding being potentially cut by 50% unless 30% of its candidates are women. This percentage will be raised to 40% by 2023.

Women in Irish politics hit an all-time low in 2011 when 15% of the Dail was made up of women, leading to the proposal of a gender quota in an Electoral Amendment Bill.

“It took 19 years for the percentage of women in the Dáil to increase from 12% to 15%. This election saw an increase to 22%, in spite of political trends which saw several women lose their seat. 163 female candidates ran for election, compared to just 86 female candidates who ran in 2011.

”This is hugely significant,” Louise Glennon of the National Women’s Council of Ireland to the Irish Examiner.

The Women for Election organisation released their Report Card on the General Election 2016, which showed that 85% of the female representation in the Dail came from the four biggest parties, Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein.

Sarah Magliocco

WILL THE SUCCESS OF THE LEFT BRING DIFFERENCE TO THE DÁIL?

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With the likelihood of a Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael coalition leading the government after the general election.

It leaves an opening for left wing parties to be in opposition. 40 per cent of Dáil seats now belong to Sinn Féin, Independents and smaller parties such as the Anti Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit.

Never before have left wing parties had such potential to voice issues as the main opposition.

John Halligan of the Independence Alliance about the FG/FG partnership, “would be beneficial to politics in Ireland”,

He continued to say “There’s no discernible difference between the two of them,” and that on the left wing of politics, “there’s not many differences between us”.

One of the biggest political movements in recent years has been the anti water charges demonstrations throughout the country.

The Right2Change group, was formed to oppose Irish Water and is a movement supported by many, if not all left-wing parties, and should be used to united the left.

After being elected, Ruth Coppinger from the AAA/PBP said “they would build a real left to replace the labour Party.”

Social Democrat Leader Catherine Murphy, said “Our natural inclination will be to build alliances towards developing positive outcomes on things like housing and health,”

A FG/FF coalition would demonstrate that there are little differences between the oldest political parties in Ireland in terms of policies.

While a united left would be interesting to see in opposition, and could become a serious contender in five years time if

John Halligan “We’re going to need stability for the sake of the country and it’s going to be up to everybody.”

By Jordan Kavanagh and Jamie Concannon

COULD THE PROGRESSIVE LEFT PARTIES FORM A GOVERNMENT?

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Labour, Social Democrats, Sinn Fein, AAA-PBP and the Green Party are all seen as progressive left political parties. Instead of these left-wing parties entering a coalition with the bigger right wing parties such as Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, could the progressive lefts stand on their own?

There are many similarities between the left-wing parties that would allow them to form a stable coalition.

Repeal the 8th

Labour is the only party that guaranteed a referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment if elected. The Green Party, Social Democrats, Sinn Fein and AAA-PBP also showed support for holding a referendum on the issue.

Minimum wage

All the left-wing parties have called for an increase in the minimum wage. AAA-PBP called for an increase in the minimum wage to a living wage of at least €11.50. Labour, the Green Party and the Social Democrats all included increasing the minimum wage in their manifestos.

Abolition of the USC

The abolition of the USC charge is common across the parties’ manifestos. Sinn Fein called to remove those on the minimum wage from the USC net.

Income tax

Labour called for lower levels of tax for those on low-income salaries but not for those on higher salaries. AAA-PBP stated that they wanted an increase in income tax on people earning over €100,000, raising €922 million. They also want the introduction of a millionaires’ tax which it claims could raise €1 billion.

Childcare

Low-cost affordable childcare was also common across all parties. The Green Party called for more paid parental leave and increase father’s rights in terms of automatic guardianship. The Social Democrats also stated that they will make childcare more affordable by extending paid paternity leave and setting maximum fees for parents for childcare.

Homelessness

Labour sets out in their manifesto their plans to combat homelessness. Sinn Fein stated that one of their main aims is to provide adequate shelter for all in Ireland. The Social Democrats also claim that the will end the housing crisis by establishing new departments and bodies to solely focus on creating sustainable housing.

Irish Language

Labour and Sinn Fein included the promotion of the Irish language in their manifestos.

Water Charges

AAA-PBP and the Social Democrats hope to abolish water charges as they see them as unfair in society.

It’s clear that the main progressive left wing parties have many similarities and that they have the potential to form a stable coalition. While they differ in a few ways such as The Green Party’s strong focus on a fossil fuel-free Ireland and Sinn Fein’s focus on Northern Ireland, they have the bones to form a new coalition that could shake up Irish politics and give it the rejuvenation that it needs.

By Catherine Devine

ARE GENDER QUOTAS ADDING UP?

After the election of Sinn Féin’s Denise Mitchell in Dublin Bay North, the number of female TDs has risen to 33.

One of the big talking points for General Election 2016 was gender quotas. The number of female candidates running for the Dáil almost doubled from the 2011 election.

Although there were 163 female candidates running this year, just 33 of them have been elected so far. 16 of the 40 constituencies elected only male TDs this time.

The gender quotas don’t appear to be having the huge impact on the number of female TDs as was initially expected.

Women for Election is a non-profit organisation that was set up to create more gender balance in Irish politics and they were successful in this to a certain degree. To go from 86 female candidates in 2011 to 163 this time is a great achievement.

“The number of female candidates has doubled this time around and I would argue that gender quotas have stimulated this significantly,” Michelle O’Donnell Keating, co-founder of Women for Election said.

But the results indicate that the Irish electorate don’t care too much about the gender of their TDs. Of the five constituencies in Cork, only one woman was elected.

In a poll of DCU students, 81 per cent of those who took part said that candidate gender did not influence their vote in the election.

Three of the parties running for election had female leaders: Joan Burton and Roisin Shortall who were both elected, and Lucinda Creighton who lost her seat.

Gender quotas were brought in under the Fine Gael/Labour government and the aim was to break down systematic issues around the selection of candidates and force parties to consider both men and women in their candidate selection procedures.

“There wasn’t a lack of women in political parties,” Michelle said, “but they just weren’t being selected for prominent positions.”

Prior to this election, only 95 women were elected to the Dáil in this history of the state. Fine Gael’s Maria Bailey was the 100th woman to take a seat at Leinster House when she was elected at the weekend.

By Aoibheann Diver

HEALY-RAE BROTHERS DISMISS ASSOCIATION WITH CORK TD

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The Healy-Rae’s have today slammed claims of a close association with Cork TD Michael Collins.   

“He went around to the doors saying that he was in daily contact with us but he never made contact, it was a blatant lie… Michael met him once,” Danny said.

Michael Healy-Rae also spoke out saying “This man has never contacted me about any alliance, that never ever happened. It’d be hard for me to join with him because he never asked me.”

The Independent TD from South West Cork recently got elected to the Dáil after rising to success during the run up. The Cork man who claimed to be in “regular” contact with the Healy Rae’s  claimed that he wants to be the counties own answer to the two Kerry brothers. ““I want to be a Healy-Rae for West Cork,” he told the Irish Examiner. “It’s parochial, but they have delivered.”

“I’m not happy with that story because it’s not true. I’m very cross about this because there was never any discussion. It’s actualy how he got elected, he put on a cap and went around door to door saying he had an alliance with us,” said Michael.

Collins is a strong believer in the importance of the rural voice being heard and gained popularity by making and effort to get to know his constituency on a personal level similar to the Healy Raes. He was recently seen canvasing in the local supermarket and chatting to supporters who came out to see him.

Despite similar tactics to the Healy Rae’s, Danny slammed any form of a relationship between the politicians, “I’ve never met him myself.. we’d be very careful about who we’d let use our name.” Danny and his brother Michael this week became the two brothers ever to be sitting in the Dáil at one time with Michael topping the polls and accumulating over 20’000 first preference votes.

The revelations emerged following suggestions of the independents of the country joining forces to form what could be quite a powerful party. With 14 independents being elected to Dáil once again people have suggested the join forces to speak in unison for the rural people of Ireland.

Danny pushed the idea of a coalition aside saying, “How do I know what those independents would be up to, I’d have to be very careful about who I’d associate with.”

“We’ll see what will happen, this will take a few weeks to evolve.. it takes a bit of time so we’ll have to see,” said Michael when asked about the possibility of a coalition.

RTE’s drive time touched on the idea of a coalition yesterday, “I think it’s likely to happen actually, Michael Collins.. has already talked about forming an alliance with the Healy Rae brothers in Kerry. You could perhaps form some form of a Munster alliance from this,” said journalist Justine McCarthy.

However, it seems that this idea will go no further with both Healy Raes deneying any form of alliance being forged with Michael Collins.

 

-Emily Hawkins