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Caru On November - 3 - 2011

I’ll start by saying that I’m sorry for the lateness of this follow-up post. Halloween, college work and life in general all collided over the course of a few, fast-paced days, leaving me little time to devote to this article. But enough with the excuses and on to the results of the Irish Presidential election and referenda.

Firstly, the winner of the presidential election was Michael D. Higgins, who defeated six other candidates for the office, gaining almost 40% of the first preference votes. The runner-up was Seán Gallagher, who gained 28.5% of the first preference votes. This was a bit of an upset as Gallagher had been leading in the polls prior to the election. However, his poor performance in the last debate and his constant refusal to answer questions regarding irregularities in his personal and professional finances seem to have cost him a significant number of votes. Personally, I’m happy with this outcome as I both voted for Higgins and loathed Gallagher.

The outcome of the election was significant in several ways. The Fine Gael (The ruling coalition party) candidate received only 6.4% of the first preference votes. This most probably represents electoral dissatisfaction with the government, which seems to be publicly perceived as Fine Gael led. This point becomes even more interesting when you factor in that Michael D. Higgins is the current head of the Irish Labour Party, the other coalition party. It could be that people either perceived Higgins as above an untoward influences from his party, or that people are dissatisfied with only one of the coalition partners, or perhaps a mixture of both. In any case, it’s a very intriguing outcome.

Secondly, the outcome of the referenda. The Twenty-Ninth Amendment to the Constitution passed with around 80% of the electorate voting in favour of the amendment which removes constitutional restrictions preventing the government from lowering judges’ pay during their tenure. This, in my opinion, is a profoundly moronic move, which will most likely result in more corruption somewhere down the line. I believe the main reason why people voted for it was that when asked to voluntarily lower their pay, judges refused and that this is “payback”. No pun intended. As you may have guessed, I was one of the 20% who voted against its passage.

The Thirtieth Amendment to the Constitution failed, as 53% of the electorate voted against it. This Amendment, which would essentially give the Oireachtas (parliament) the power of subpoena, looked like it was set to become law. After all, almost every democracy in the world has some version of the proposed process. However, when the wording of the Amendment was published, it become clear that this was simply a power grab, as the wording would enable the Oireachtas to decide what was “fair” to investigate publicly with regard to an individual, rather than the courts. For this reason, I and many others voted against the passage of this Amendment.

Well, that’s all from the land of darkness at half-four in the afternoon. A Oíche Shamhna sásta go déanach!

Written by Caru

I don't really have anything of note to put in here... Oh, I won a bar of chocolate once.

8 Responses so far.

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  1. Khirad says:

    So not too long after the utter collapse of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael are already in disfavor?

    Is the Presidency an accurate or reliable measure of Labor’s standing, or does the office and personality of Mr. Higgins temper reading too much into that?

    The judges pay thing sounded moronic to me the first time you mentioned it. Too bad the Tartiet 😉 Amendment was so badly written, it is something everyone else has.

    Now, you’re just the one to ask about this.

    Am I seriously supposed to buy that the closure of the Vatican Embassy, as the Tánaiste asserted, had nothing to do with the church sex scandal hearings in the Dáil and the earlier diplomatic kerfuffle from the Holy See when they recalled their envoy?


    Yes, I get Ireland also is closing East Timor and Iranian embassies (Bobby Sands St. will have to suffice), but might they may have been killing two birds with one stone here? A convenient alibi?

    Given Ireland’s historic relationship with the Mother Church, even closer than many Catholic countries closer to Rome, I think in any other time they would have found a way to save it had their been the will to do so.

    That’s why I have a really hard time buying the official statement. Maybe it might be taken the wrong way, but given centuries of colonial subjugation, I think the Irish have honed the art of bullshitting, and I smell it here. Of course it’s just not the Irish that bullshit, it’s politicians in general, but this was incredibly clever. And given the Vatican’s response, I don’t think they bought it either.

    But, I could be wrong. Am I being too cynical?

    Any opinion on the ill-fated Saoirse and Gaza? (cute with the ship name, btw, I remember that one from Irish class.)

    And finally, “sásta go déanach!” — help me out here. Is that like belated? Better late than never? I got the rest. I was wishing everyone (daoibh) a happy Samhain in Gaelic too.

    • Caru says:

      Fine Fáil and Fine Gael are a distinction without a difference, so I’m not surprised by any disatisfaction with them.

      Michael D. Higgins is a very well-respected figure, so I wouldn’t say that his success is a reliable measure of Labour’s standing. However, I would say that when combined with Gay Mitchell’s poor performance, it shows that Labour is the more popular of the two coalition parties.

      If the thirtieth (cheeky, 😉 )Amendment was better written, then I would have voted for it. It would have saved a lot of time, effort and money.


      Why, thank you, Khirad. 😉 I do believe that we Irish are at the cutting-edge of bullshit and you’re right to smell it here. It’s a brilliant way to snub the Church, IMO, and I hope that they continue in this vein. It also saves money!

      Your cynicism was well placed.


      About the ships, I think that the Israeli response was utterly ridiculous, possibly illegal, unnecessary and profoundly unhelpful to everybody.

      A better response would be to stop the ships peacefully, and then negotiate an agreement wherein the Israelis could take the ships cargoes, search them and hand them over to the Palestinians. Everybody wins.

      “Sásta go déanach” on its own would mean something like “a late satisfaction” or “belated happiness” With the rest of the sentence it means something like “Belated, happy Halloween” or “A late, happy Halloween.” But, be careful! There are language purists out there who won’t accept anything but traditional farewells.

      Slán agat!

  2. kesmarn says:

    Caru, thanks so much for the follow-up, and I’m glad that — for the most part — things went the way you had hoped they would when you voted.

    I agree with Sue, who remarked on how cute Mr. Higgins is. Normally, I try hard not to factor in personal appearance when voting, but — lord — who could resist that smile? Also, I can hardly imagine a politician who looks are real as Higgins does getting even a foothold in American politics. It’s so important now to be hair-dyed, hair-plugged, liposuctioned, face-lifted and made-up. Someone who looks older and at the same time normal sends American voters screaming.

    Hope Labour has a very successful run now, and you’ll be able to get back to focusing on studies and fun!

  3. SueInCa says:

    I read about this last week, he is just the cutest little guy and I understand a coup for the left. I don’t understand Irish politics but it seems he was elected with a popular vote.

    • Caru says:

      Overwhelmingly so, Sue. By the time all the preference votes had been transferred he had nearly twice the amount of votes as the runner-up, Sean Gallagher.

  4. KQuark says:

    Cheers for the result.

    The Labour Party winning the presidential race is a big deal for the left leaning parties in Ireland, no?

    • Caru says:

      Yes and no. The Labour Party is the largest left-leaning party in Ireland. However, they are rather centre-left (in European terms), so the other left-wing parties tend to look down on them and everybody looks down on Sinn Fein (the second largest left-leaning party.)

      That said, it is a big deal for the Labour Party, which represents the majority of left-wing Ireland.

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