Weeks before the recent Irish election was even announced and long before the first votes were cast, representatives of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael met behind closed doors to cut a deal, with one solitary aim in mind – to keep Sinn Fein out of government.
At the same time, generously funded by major corporations, banks and developers, highly-paid public relations specialists in the pockets of these two same political parties were instructed to create what’s known as a ‘news camouflage.’
To avoid any fall-out from someone learning about these secret meetings, they spun a story through a web of overly acquiescent Irish media that these two political parties would instead discuss forming a coalition with other minor parties.
It is a well-planned and co-ordinated charade to create a facade of democratic fairness.
Among those most wanting Sinn Fein side-lined at all costs was Jim O’Callaghan, wealthy Dublin barrister, senior counsel and Fianna Fail’s justice minister, a man who only managed to get elected on the eighth (8th) count, beaten by Sinn Fein candidate, Chris Andrews.
O’Callaghan is brother of millionairess and RTE presenter Miriam O’Callaghan who infamously grilled Sinn Fein leader, Mary Lou McDonald, on a pre-election ‘Leader’s TV Debate’ on – guess what – justice issues.
In doing so, she used an archaic 13-year-old audio report excavated from deep within the archives of the BBC as a weapon. It may come as no surprise to many whom Miriam’s husband, Steve, works for.
Yes, you guessed right. The BBC.
The O’Callaghans, like many wealthy people in Ireland today, would be required to pay a little more in taxes under a Sinn Fein led government, with loose tax avoidance loopholes used by many rich people closed. These taxes would help close the gap between rich and poor and ease the housing, health and education crises mainly affecting working-class people.
Reflecting growing popular interest in the economic inequalities in Ireland, a blog I wrote before the elections on the O’Callaghans attracted a massive 20,348 views from readers in just one week. More than 2,000 readers every single day.
That being said, here is my prediction.
Within the next two weeks – after demonising Sinn Fein as a ‘cult’ through a slick and expensive media campaign (thus demonising half a million Irish people who voted for that party), Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will announce a new Centre Right government.
The word ‘change’ will be sprinkled liberally throughout their joint manifesto and media interviews and they will announce they ‘have put aside their differences —- in the interests of the country,’ thus positioning themselves as some kind of ‘national saviours.’
I predict this development with sadness, but with confidence gleaned from 40 years of journalism experience in Ireland, the US and mainland Europe.
And on this election issue, I’ve got things right so far.
I predicted Sinn Fein would get more than 30 seats.
I predicted the five politicians who would be elected in my own constituency of Donegal
I predicted Pat the Cope Gallagher, a Fianna Fail member of parliament for 40 years, a man with whom I had a public run-in would lose his seat, with many people telling me such a prediction was like Manchester United being relegated from the Premiership.
With the Cheltenham races coming up, perhaps I should make a few big bets for I even predicted the following two weeks ago in my blog –
“… on voting day tomorrow (Saturday), will the final outcome be any different from that over the last 100 years? Sadly, regardless of Sinn Fein receiving a well-deserved boost, hopefully above the 30 mark, I don’t think so.
If past results are anything to go by, we will remain with a Centre Right majority that kowtows to wealthy individuals, major corporations, banks, vulture funds and major land developers offering tax breaks and other incentives. A coalition that steadfastly fails to rectify the growing, severe inequalities in social life here.”
The truth is simple. Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin wants to be Taoiseach, Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar still wants to be in Government. And they both need to pay back their rich sponsors, both individuals and corporations.
As they prepare to announce their Government, it is important to point out the following for context:
*Sinn Fein elected 37 TD’s, out of 42 candidates;
*10 Sinn Fein candidates topped the polls;
*27 Sinn Fein candidates were elected in the first count.
*Sinn Fein doubled their vote in Dublin;
*Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald won more votes last week for Prime Minister than both the present PM Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin;
*Sinn Fein’s Dublin West candidate, Paul Donnelly, elected in the first count, beat Leo Varadkar, who only got elected in the fifth count, the first time in Irish history a Prime Minister has lost his own constituency;
* Sinn Fein candidates in my constituency, Donegal, were both elected on first counts – Pearse Doherty with 21,044 votes, 8,000 over the quota, and Pádraig MacLochlainn, with 13,891 votes, a massive 45% of the total vote;
*Sinn Fein’s candidate in Clare Violet-Anne Wynne who received just 385 in the local elections, won over 10,000 votes in the national ones;
*Sinn Fein candidate Johnny Mythen won in Wexford, the first time in 100 years the party has won a seat there;
*Sinn Fein won 45,614 votes, a mere 2.5% of the total in the 1997 election. In 2020, that transformed into 535,595 or 24.5%;
Is it any wonder the O’Callaghan’s and wealthy people like them are fearful.
And so sadly it seems are the Irish media which, displaying its Right-wing bias, has failed miserably to fulfil its role as the Fourth Estate, to serve and protect the public interest.
It refused to report on the emerging banking crisis under Fianna Fail’s watch that left Ireland bankrupt and at the mercy of the IMF and it is now refusing to report the real reasons Sinn Fein is being excluded from Government.