Monday, July 26, 2010

Struggling Towards a New Party

Recent coverage in the Irish Times, and elsewhere in the media, show that the impetus towards establishing new parties in Ireland is growing. The four parties mentioned in the article are:

1) Fis Nua - I suppose these could be characterised as the "Continuity Greens", effectively members of the environmentalist movement who have become disillusioned with the direction the mainstream Green Party has taken since going into government. Originally, it appeared that former Green Patricia McKenna was rowing in behind this group, but it would appear she has since distanced herself from them.

2) Direct Democracy Ireland, a party advocating greater use of referenda and other direct democracy legislative tools. It would appear to be fronted by Vincent Salafia, who is best known for his involvement in the M3 Tara protests and the protests against roadworks around Carrickmines Castle. Patricia McKenna would also seem to be supporting this venture. Personally, direct democracy seems nice in theory, but I'm not sure how it would operate in practice.

3) "The Irish Independents’ Party" - a movement spearheaded by Leo Armstrong, who is apparently a former member of the Greens and of Fine Gael. Held an initial meeting in Kilkenny, at which only 50 prospective members attended (which says much about how prepared Irish people actually are to fight for a new approach to politics in this country). Interestingly, Mr. Armstrong has been criticised on the letters pages of a number of national newspapers for not having any policies, but I think that his efforts say a lot about the perceived problems of the Irish political system - policies are not the issue, the very nature of politics in this country is.

4) The Reform Party - established by Cork businessman Michael Murphy, this would appear to be an attempt to fill the liberal, free-market friendly, low tax party-shaped hole left in the Irish political landscape by the departure of the PDs. I will be watching with interest.

Finally, and more recently, former justice minister Michael McDowell raised the possibility of his return to politics, leading to much speculation regarding the emergence of another new PD-style party. Rumours abound that such a venture would include Pat Cox, or even Declan Ganley, but it is hard to know how much truth there is behind all the talk. Indeed, it is hard to reconcile three such, shall we say, forceful personalities surviving together in a single party. Still, hope springs eternal that something new will arrive on the scene and wash away the stagnant status quo.

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