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Mazda's Maps and Mwikiboxes

Uhura's Mazda

{{{The Independents}}}
Published by SLP
Tamaki Makaurau
National Progressive Democrats

I promised to tell the rest of Noel Browne’s story back in the Clann na Poblachta post, and here it is. After being forced to drop the Mother and Child Scheme by the Church and abandoned to his fate by the rest of the Cabinet, including his party leader Sean MacBride, he had little recourse but to become an Independent in Opposition. At the 1951 election, when CnaP dropped towards the waterline, Browne was re-elected under his new affiliation – the first of many.

At this election, he was part of a bloc of so-called ‘Brownite Independents’ including the incumbents Captain Peadar Cowan, who had resigned from the Clann over a previous dispute with MacBride, and Jack McQuillan, a Roscommon radical who had followed Browne into Opposition over Mother and Child. McQuillan (who was a former GAA player recruited by noted non-GAA-fan Sean MacBride to be a vote-repository for an ex-IRA candidate but ended up outpolling his supposed ally) is often thought of as part of a political Siamese twin with Browne, but this isn’t quite true. While Browne revelled in public attention and Socialism, McQuillan was quieter and believed that people “voted for Browne despite his Socialism, not because of it”. The fourth Brownite was Michael ffrench-O’Carroll, a new TD who had been elected to Dublin Corporation in 1950 on the Clann na Poblachta ticket.

The 1951 election resulted in a hung Dail, and the Brownites held the balance of power. The coalition parties tried hard to recruit them, but the betrayal over Mother and Child still stung, and they ended up backing Fianna Fail to return – and this term was one of the most woeful Fianna Fail Governments ever. Mismanagement and economic conservatism played havoc with the Irish economy. Despite all this, Noel Browne and Michael ffrench-O’Carroll both joined Fianna Fail while the other two remained Independents (another way of telling Browne and McQuillan apart). Browne’s main reason for such unnecessary loyalty was that FF essentially passed the same Health Act he’d wanted to pass in the previous Government.

Browne, Cowan and ffrench-O’Carroll were all defeated in 1954 on account of the unpopularity of the Government they supported. Browne, however, was now a member of the FF national Exec and felt assured of his glowing future – until his local party failed to select him in 1957. His Exec mates weren’t bothered about overruling the selection (although they had the right to do so) so he stormed off to become an Independent candidate, under which guise he returned to his rightful place alongside Jack McQuillan in the Dail.

Browne had been keen to start a new left-wing party for a while now. Before joining CnaP, he’d considered joining Labour, but felt that his middle-class background would be impossible to overcome: the first Labour TD with a university education was elected in 1965. He then tried to join Labour in the 1950s, but was rejected on account of his Socialism (no Irish Labour Leader used the word ‘Socialism’ until the mid-60s out of fear the Church would excommunicate them again like they had in the 30s), the embarrassment he’d caused to the Inter-Party Government over Mother and Child, and the fact that he wasn’t a trade union member (the Irish Medical Association didn’t count for their purposes). Faced with the impossibility of joining Labour, his only options were FF or a new party.

This new party was founded in 1958 as the National Progressive Democrats, which wasn’t hugely more left-wing than Labour, and whose founding statement was so platitudinous that it didn’t attract much press attention. Moreover, it only had two TDs (Browne and McQuillan) and had hardly any members or constituency organisation apart from that of McQuillan in Roscommon. McQuillan had been the only CnaP TD to do the then-common thing and stand for the Council as well in order to be a more effective builder of roads. Browne barely had a constituency support base at all and neglected his casework.

In the Dail, though, the pair were redoubtable. They asked about 17% of all ministerial questions between them, prompting the Taoiseach to describe them as the “real opposition”. More importantly, their domination of Question Time prompted a rewrite of the standing orders to let other people have a turn – an amendment which is still in force today.

Despite minimal organisation, the NPDs did manage to stand a candidate in the dramatic Dublin South-Central by-election of 1958. Their candidate was Noel Hartnett, a former FF hack who had been campaign manager for Clann na Poblachta in 1948 and then fallen out with Sean MacBride (are you sensing a pattern here?) over MacBride’s decision not to furnish Hartnett with a promised Seanad seat and to instead hand the seat to a Protestant with no obvious Republican sympathies at that time. The by-election involved major sectarian bloodletting between the parties of the left, with Labour and Hartnett joined in the hustings by Sean MacBride, who had lost his seat at the previous election. NPD volunteers were among the worst offenders in a contest which was so dirty and shabby that only 34% of the voters were inspired to go to the polls. Hartnett came last with 15%, which wasn’t too bad, but he didn’t have the chance to build on this result as he died before the next general election.

In that general election, the NPD retained the seats of Browne and McQuillan. Their only other candidate was a female Councillor who had been the only NPD Council candidate outside of McQuillan’s particular bit of Roscommon. It’s fair to say that the Party barely had any sort of existence whatsoever. As such, it was no great loss when Browne and McQuillan finally broke down the resolve of the Labour Party in 1962. Labour was moving leftward anyway now that Norton had been deposed as Leader (however, he remained in the Leader’s office he’d occupied for 28 years until he died, with his replacement, Brendan Corish, having to settle for a smaller desk off to the side of the room) so entrance of two genuine left-wingers was a signal to the electorate. Labour was acutely aware that it had little support in Dublin due to the preponderance of conservative rural semi-Independent TDs in the PLP, which meant that gaining Browne was quite a big story, even though they’d rejected yet another membership application only eighteen months before.

As a side note, one National Progressive Democrat activist in the Dublin South-Central by-election was David Thornley, who later became a Labour TD in Dublin (benefiting from the breakthrough into Dublin in the 60s) and an opponent of Noel Browne within the PLP.

Uhura's Mazda

{{{The Independents}}}
Published by SLP
Tamaki Makaurau
Socialist Labour Party

Noel Browne’s career within the Labour Party was longer than his sojourn in any other party, but was equally shrouded in controversy. He found it difficult to work as part of a team and was not at all fond of some of the reactionary rural elements. Fortunately, Labour in the 60s was attracting loads of radical student activists who had no other party to turn to, and Browne – as one of the only TDs in student-infested Dublin – became a ringleader of the left-wing of the Party. A typical intervention would be a remark to the press about how he favoured the legalisation of abortion at a time when Labour were still muddling through on whether or not they were able to tolerate the prescription of contraception by a doctor. At this point, McQuillan was no longer able to restrain him as he’d been defeated in his first contest for his seat under a Labour banner – Connacht has never been kind to Labour candidates.

Tensions rose to a high point in 1970 when Browne shouted “Shame!” at his Party leader while Corish was in the middle of his Conference speech. Corish retorted that he hadn’t shouted the same word when Browne had joined Fianna Fail in 1953, which caused Browne to storm out along with a lot of his allies. This walk-out of the Left enabled the remaining delegates to pass a resolution allowing Labour to enter coalition with Fine Gael once more (although word has it the vote had already been rigged). Browne’s allies then formed a Socialist Labour Action Group along with various Trot sects, but Browne wound back from the group when they started talking about running candidates against Labour.

The ones who were in favour of running candidates left the unfortunately named SLAG as well, and this was the origin of the Socialist Workers Movement/Party/Network/People Before Profit group who have been dealt with elsewhere. Nevertheless, Browne remained with Labour for several more years. He was deselected in 1973 but won a seat in the Seanad, but by now Labour were in Government with Fine Gael, and his brand of entertaining, principled Bullshit wasn’t so much in vogue with the leadership. He was expelled from the Party.

In 1977, he returned to the Dail as an Independent, moving from the South of Dublin to the Northside, namely the constituency of Dublin Artane. As a side note, the 1977 boundaries are the only ones in which Dublin constituencies are named by neighbourhood rather than cardinal directions, and while some of those directional names are silly (for instance, Dublin North-West is actually south-east of Dublin West), you can at least learn them over time. Having to work out where Artane and Cabra are in relation to each other is even more annoying, and is my main gripe with the ’77 boundaries – even beyond the fact that it was literally gerrymandered to ensure the return of the FG-Labour Government and actively worked against that outcome in practice.


Browne took this opportunity to live his dream of a new left-wing alternative to a Labour Party now tarnished by yet another Coalition and the internal faction-fighting that followed. The result was the Socialist Labour Party, featuring many of those who had been involved in SLAG, including the Socialist Workers Movement and people who had remained in the Labour Left. It was a much harder, more radical affair than the platitudinous NPD had been, and in fact was a self-consciously multi-tendency affair to warm the cockles of any modern Trot. The tendencies continued to print their own newspapers and suchlike, with the SWM paper being better-produced than the Socialist Labour Party one itself.

On that point, it’s heartwarming to note that one of the major figures within the SLP (no relation) was Matt Merrigan, an ageing Trot and trade union leader who had been involved in talks with Browne and McQuillan to start a new party in 1955. Browne was at that point happy in Fianna Fail, but the talks did result in a new paper, the Plough, which lasted for several years. This was quite an achievement, because most attempts at a Labour newspaper went bust after seven issues. In any case, the closest Merrigan came to entering the Dail was at a by-election in 1970 caused by the death of a Labour TD. Merrigan was selected as the Labour candidate, but the TD’s widow stood as an Independent and most of the local party campaigned for her (or, in one case, for the Fine Gael candidate) and the split vote handed the seat to Fianna Fail. Merrigan therefore contributed to the first occasion in Irish history in which a widow candidate failed to be elected in a by-election.

For the first time, Browne attempted to build a constituency party, and in the 1979 local elections, SLP candidates campaigned hard in Artane. They ended up without a seat, but it was a close margin. The only incumbent Councillor who had defected to the SLP, Billy Keegan of Finglas, also lost his seat in a close contest.

But the age-old tragedy of Noel Browne’s involvement with politics repeated itself. His caustic manner alienated some of the Trot tendencies, who left to go their own way, and when it came to the 1981 election, the SLP failed to capture the public mood. This was, after all, an election fought by two closely-matched alternative Governments, who pulled in most of the attention, and the anti-establishment vote went largely towards electing the first TDs of the Anti H-Block coalition and Sinn Fein the Workers’ Party. Apart from Browne, who was re-elected on new boundaries in a seat named after a cardinal direction, no other SLP candidates performed at all well.

It was wound up within the year and Browne retired from politics at the February 1982 general election – although he did continue to make himself heard, notably when the Labour Left (including Michael D. Higgins) tried to select him as a candidate for the 1990 Presidential election.

Uhura's Mazda

{{{The Independents}}}
Published by SLP
Tamaki Makaurau
Democratic Socialist Party

It would be wrong to imagine that the only challenge from the non-Republican Left came from Noel Browne and his allies. In the early 60s, an idealistic young man from Limerick looked around the parties available to him in that fine city and judged that the least awful of them was Labour – and that he ought to be the guy to turn it into something he could vote for without hesitation.

Jim Kemmy failed, despite rising fairly high in the Party hierarchy and the strength of the Left in Labour at this stage. His immediate task through his decade of Labour membership was to achieve the deselection of Limerick East TD Stephen Coughlan. Kemmy signed up 100 members to the Limerick City branch; Coughlan persuaded the local press to refuse to Kemmy interviews. So it went.

Now, Coughlan wasn’t your common or garden rural conservative Labour TD. He was one of the worst of them. While the rest of Labour boycotted and lambasted an all-white Springbok rugby tour in 1969, Coughlan welcomed them to his city. To be fair, rugby union is more of a working-class game in Limerick than in most of the rest of Ireland, so it was perhaps a little more forgivable than it would have been if any other Labour man had stood by the Boks, but even so, that was no excuse to threaten the chair of the Anti-Apartheid movement with a “kick up the transom”.

Shades of NZ here, of course.

That was arguably not even worst of Coughlan, though. Described as the George Wallace of Ireland, he was perhaps more accurately described as Eire’s answer to Joseph McCarthy. At around the same time as the Springbok incident, international politics made itself felt once more in Limerick as a cell of six Maoists (out of an Irish population of 50 such) moved to Limerick and set up a bookshop. As you might grimly suspect, Coughlan wrote to their new employers with details of their political affiliation in order to get them sacked – with some success – and also took to the papers to accuse them of being in cahoots with Kemmy and the leftist opposition within Limerick Labour Party.

The final straw came when a Jesuit priest, who had in point of fact got in a scuffle with an Anti-Apartheid activist only a few months previously, claimed to have been set upon violently by the Maoists. All the Maoists, however, had alibis, but this didn’t prevent a gang of Limerick men from retaliating by throwing petrol bombs into their bookshop. Coughlan’s statement to the papers was seen not to unilaterally deplore the violence, and the Party issued a statement condemning both Coughlan’s statement and Maoism. #bothsides.

Oh, and then he returned to more sensible political climes by giving a speech about how good credit unions are. There was no possible way Stevie Coughlan could fuck this up, right? Well, he managed it: he described bankers as “extortionist warble-fly bloodsuckers” and caused a furore around anti-Semitism which is… familiar to modern ears. Even so, he wasn’t expelled from the Party even when he threatened to start a new National Labour Party which would by all accounts be slightly fashy.

Faced with this kind of unsackable bastard, Jim Kemmy eventually gave up on Limerick Labour and set up his own Limerick Socialist Organisation, under whose banner he contested Council elections and the 1977 general election, in which Coughlan was defeated by an Independent Labour candidate. His outlook, as well as being economically left-wing, was also deeply humanistic and anti-sectarian: in 1975, he set up a family planning clinic at a time when it was illegal even to sell condoms, and was also a prominent activist within the fights for divorce and abortion.

In 1981, Kemmy was finally elected as a left-wing Independent. He was immediately launched into a dramatic situation: it turned out that he held the balance of power between FF and a coalition between Fine Gael and Labour. He decided to go with the latter option but only promised critical support. The new Taoiseach, Garret Fitzgerald, wasn’t keen to have the tail wagging the dog, and this resulted in him refusing to kowtow to Kemmy’s requests on welfare and taxation in his first Budget. Kemmy voted against it, the Government fell, and Ireland went back to the polls. By this point, Kemmy had used his profile to criticise the pro-life movement, which brought condemnation from the Church, and to criticise the hunger strikers, which brought condemnation from virtually everybody else. Nevertheless, he was re-elected as an Independent in the first election in 1982.

Kemmy was steadfastly opposed to Republicanism and the violence that came with it, much like the contemporary Workers’ Party. In fact, his organisation co-operated with the Socialist Party of Ireland, an early off-shoot of the Officials which had by this stage adopted Eurocommunism. In mid-1982, Kemmy’s organisation merged with the SPI and a third party, the British and Irish Communist Organisation, to form the Democratic Socialist Party.

BICO is one of those really odd grouplets that have an endless fascination for political geeks. They started off as Maoists before returning to Stalinism; their early activity during the Troubles was to help defend Catholic neighbourhoods, until they landed on the hypothesis that the problem was in fact that the Southern Government was giving insufficient respect to Ulster Protestants’ right to self-determination; they believed in this self-determination yet they rejected Ulster independence, and then again their ideas were inspirational to quite a few Ulster nationalists. Enoch Powell described them as “nice, comfortable Unionist Marxists”. And if anything, they got increasingly unusual as time went on, adding contrarian positions in favour of Zionism, nuclear weapons, the Falklands War and Thatcher’s response to the miners’ strike to their ideals.

So in summary, Kemmy’s new Democratic Socialist Party was aggressively secularist and anti-Republican at a time when these positions weren’t reflective of the general consensus. The DSP branched out from Limerick in the second election of 1982 but performed woefully, and to top it all off, Jim Kemmy lost his seat to a new Labour candidate.

The DSP candidate in Dun Laoghaire, who went on to contest the Dublin constituency at the 1984 Euro election, deserves special mention. John de Courcy Ireland served in the RNLI and had been involved in setting up the Maritime Museum, the Irish CND, and the Anti-Apartheid movement. Added to this, he was also a staunch lefty. His wife had been a nurse in the Spanish Civil War; he himself had served as Big Jim Larkin’s election agent in the 40s; and he went on to join a bewildering array of parties including the Communists, the Northern Ireland Labour Party, the Workers’ Party, Democratic Left and the Socialist Workers Party. His stint in the DSP was just one step on a winding road.

Thanks to Kemmy’s strong work as a Councillor, he returned to the Dail at the 1987 and was re-elected in 1989. The DSP outside Limerick atrophied due to consistent electoral failure, but Kemmy was just as good as the old rural Labour Right at delivering for his community in the traditional Irish way. He is now remembered fondly by Limerick, in stark contrast to the divisiveness with which he was associated in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Ironically, the city even named a Business School after their most famous Socialist.

With the decline of the DSP, Kemmy realised that the only game in town was the Labour Party. His party merged into Labour in 1990. When he died, a former DSP follower of his, Jan O’Sullivan, retained the seat for Labour in the by-election. O’Sullivan, as a Protestant and a feminist, had found it easy to join Kemmy’s organisation and had been in charge of the day-to-day running of the family planning clinic, despite being derided as one of “Kemmy’s Femmies”. Later, O’Sullivan served as Minister for Education and Skills from 2014 and 2016 and is one of the seven remaining Labour TDs. Two other ex-DSP members were elected to the Dail in 2011.

Although I stand by my abject Noel Browne fetish, the DSP is probably the Irish party I’d have had the least trouble supporting.

Uhura's Mazda

{{{The Independents}}}
Published by SLP
Tamaki Makaurau
Social Democrats

In 2015, a new party burst onto the Irish scene with a membership of three existing TDs.

It was called Renua, it supported a flat tax and the abortion ban, and it didn’t do very well at the election.

But then, a few weeks later, another new party was announced, having been set up in a hurry by three Independent TDs. One, Roisin Shortall, was a Labour deputy first elected in the Spring Tide of 1992 and subsequently a junior Minister in the FG-Lab Government, until she resigned her position and the whip over Health cuts.

Another, Catherine Murphy, had begun her political life in the Workers’ Party and subsequently been one of the few strong-ish performers in Democratic Left outside of their incumbent TDs. She had criticised the Labour merger in 1999 as opportunistic but gone along with it anyway, only to depart a few years later. Murphy, a Councillor already, won a by-election in 2005 as an Independent, lost said seat at the next general election, but came back in 2011. Earlier in 2015, she had attempted to make allegations about shady businessman Denis O’Brien in the Dail, but was prevented from speaking. When she did eventually get a word in, O’Brien leant on the media to censor coverage of her speech. Lots of healthy democracy going on there.

The third founder and co-Leader of the Social Democrats was Stephen Donnelly, elected as an Independent in 2011 and a critic of the Troika bailout. Seeing that Labour was discredited by coalition, the three of them decided to found a new centre-left party, the Social Democrats. A fresh new brand and vaguely interesting protagonists were exactly what the Irish centre-left was thirsting for at that point, so the new Party attracted some positive media attention and has staked out a solid following among young people alienated by Labour. More support was added by Donnelly’s strong performance in a televised debate in the 2016 election campaign.

In terms of policy, the SDs are viewed as being to the left of Labour by approximately the thickness of a cigarette paper. There are two main distinguishing factors, the first being that the Social Democrats say the word ‘Nordic’ once every seven seconds. However, this has been described as a meaningless buzzword on account of the fact that they also want to cut some of the less popular taxes: as Nordic social democracy depends on reasonably high taxes, it is unclear how they propose to pay for their Generic Nice Things.

The second distinguishing factor is that they give the impression of not wanting to negotiate away their principles by going into coalition. Of course, both Shortall and Murphy have cred on this, having both left the Labour Party when their careers might have been better served by keeping schtum. Donnelly, however, burnt his boats a little bit when, immediately after the election, he started talking about his desire to take the SDs into an arrangement with the Fine Gael Government. The other two were, quite naturally, not pleased with this, and internal relations between the three co-Leaders chilled. Donnelly went Independent again several months after the election and joined Fianna Fail as a Shadow Cabinet member in 2017.

Shortall and Murphy remain as co-Leaders, but their issue is that they have a finite political shelf-life (both are in their mid-60s) and really ought to bring in some of the younger people in the Party at the next election if the project is to have any longevity. There is a solid bench of younger candidates, fortunately, including Cian O’Callaghan, ex-Labour and Ireland’s first gay Mayor, and Gary Gannon, a formerly-Independent Councillor who was beaten by just over 300 votes in his first tilt at the Dublin Central constituency.

The Social Democrats reportedly have about a thousand members and have now built up their institutions to the level of holding a democratic Conference in 2018. This Conference enshrined a protocol by which the Party can only enter a Coalition with the approval of 60% of delegates.

Oh, and in case I’m being a bit too easy on them – another of their founding members was a Senator who has since been arrested for assaulting the police on two separate occasions, once at an indie rock music festival. This is what you get when you start appealing to (ugh) y



First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity
Published by SLP
The composition of the Health Boards was quite interesting - each one consisted of about 10-20 members co-opted from local authorities in its region, 6-9 members elected by registered medical practitioners, one member each elected by dentists, registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses and chemists, and three Ministerial appointees.

Uhura's Mazda

{{{The Independents}}}
Published by SLP
Tamaki Makaurau
I lied.

Irish Presidential elections have generally been dull affairs, mostly because the post itself bears little responsibility and it’s hard to get yourself nominated as a candidate even if you’re keen for that responsibility. You need the support of at least 20 parliamentarians (of either House) or four Councils, or you can nominate yourself if you’re a sitting or former President. But you can only serve two seven-year terms.

The inaugural President was elected unopposed in 1938, having been nominated by both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Douglas Hyde was a classic unity candidate: despite being a Protestant, he was also a major player in the Gaelic League.

Hyde didn’t stand again, and 1945 saw the first contested Presidential election. Unfortunately, I haven’t mapped it, because the results of this one were reported by County instead of Dail constituency and fuck that noise. Fianna Fail nominated Sean T. O’Kelly, then the Tanaiste (Deputy PM) and Finance Minister, while Fine Gael selected Sean Mac Eoin, a military veteran of the IRA and the Pro-Treaty forces. A third candidate, the Independent Republican Pat McCartan, was nominated by Labour and Clann na Talmhan but only succeeded in preventing O’Kelly from winning on the first count. However, McCartan’s surprisingly good result was a shot in the arm to the Radical Republicans who then set up Clann na Poblachta. He went on to be one of their two Senators appointed in 1948.

O’Kelly renominated himself and was not opposed on this occasion. He was forced to retire at the end of his second term in 1959, which is mapped below. Only two candidates were nominated: Mac Eoin again for Fine Gael, and Eamon De Valera for Fianna Fail. McCartan also attempted to stand but didn’t get enough nominations. Dev took 56% of the vote, but his victory was spoiled by his simultaneous failure to game the system for future Dail elections in favour of Fianna Fail. Irish voters rejected First Past the Post by 52% and you will see from the map that the No vote correlates closely to the anti-FF vote.

Another referendum was held in 1968 and defeated by a larger margin. I only mention it because some analysts at the time worked out that, on a FPTP map, the 1967 local election results would translate into 93 seats for Fianna Fail, 37 for Fine Gael, and 14 for all others, including Labour. And that would actually be a terrible result for FF, because the presence of gene-pool Indos in the locals kept them down to 40% in 1967 – a vote they wouldn’t drop below in a general election until 1992.

The 1966 Presidential election was again contested, with De Valera up against Tom O’Higgins, a scion of an FG dynasty which included his father, the tragically assassinated Minister Thomas F. O’Higgins. De Valera didn’t even campaign for the job, which meant that RTE couldn’t cover the O’Higgins campaign for reasons of balance. A real galaxy-brain moment, there. Meanwhile, in both 1959 and 1966, a man called Eoin ‘the Pope’ O’Mahony tried to get himself nominated, but only managed to get the backing of one Council in 1966. He derived his nickname from his intended profession at school, and was a bit of a character by all accounts. His ideal United Ireland would be a monarchy run by the oldest Irish peer, the Viscount Gormanston.

De Valera won with 50.5% of the vote (suggesting that he’d have been well-advised to actually campaign) and served until 1973. This time, O’Higgins faced off against Erskine Childers, a former FF Tanaiste. Childers won with 52% but died suddenly, and all parties agreed to replace him with the Chief Justice, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh. However, the new President didn’t get on with the FG-Labour coalition and referred their Emergency Powers Bill to the Supreme Court. This action delayed its implementation and was blamed for the death of a police officer in the interim. The Defence Minister described him as a “fucking disgrace” and he consequently resigned in 1976, as the office had become politicised.

There was no election held to replace him, as the Government parties declined to nominate, leaving Fianna Fail backing their former Minister for External Affairs, Patrick Hillery, for the post. Hillery served a seven-year term and nominated himself for a second in 1983. Again, no opponent came forward. In 1990, therefore, there had been three Presidents serving four terms over seventeen years since the last contested Presidential election. This was a dramatic one, as it was revealed over the course of the campaign that the FF candidate, Tanaiste Brian Lenihan, had previously made secret phonecalls to Hillery to pressure him concerning the dates of elections, which obviously wasn’t hugely appropriate.

Lenihan, therefore, became the first and only FF-nominated candidate ever to lose a Presidential election. A dubious honour, to be sure. And despite the fact that his conduct was woefully unbecoming of the office, he still came first in the first-preference vote, with 44%. 1990 was the first three-cornered contest since 1945. The FG candidate was Austin Currie, who had been a Nationalist Party Stormont MP and Civil Rights campaigner, going on to help found the SDLP. However, he was unknown in the South, and had moved down to Dublin only a year before to carpet-bag into a Dail seat in the FG interest. Second place therefore went to Mary Robinson, a liberal campaigner and long-time Labour Senator who had been nominated by Labour and the Workers’ Party and supported later in the campaign by the Progressive Democrats. Her victory in the second round thanks to Currie’s transfers was the first national-level election won by Labour – and the Robinson campaign contributed to the shift which enabled Labour to break through in the 1992 ‘Spring Tide’ general election.

Robinson stepped down at the end of her successful term to become UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Five candidates stood to replace her, including Adi Roche, an anti-nuclear campaigner with the backing of Labour, the Greens and Democratic Left. She came second-to-last with 7%, a massive collapse from 1990. She beat a retired policeman and campaigner, but was beaten by Fine Gael’s Mary Bannotti, an MEP, and the Independent Dana Rosemary Scallon, who had won Eurovision in 1970 and didn’t like abortion. The ultimate winner was Fianna Fail’s Mary McAleese, who had no parliamentary experience.

Fun fact: Mary McAleese was the first head of state I ever met. We’d just arrived in Rome and the Irish embassy were dedicating an altar in their chapel to Saint Oliver Plunkett. This is the type of event that brings together two sorts of people: local ecumenical dignitaries and their families on the one side, and Presidents on the other. Shaking hands with the Irish President was my proudest moment until I did the same with Pope Benedict a few weeks later. It was a really wild time.

Anyway, McAleese was unopposed in 2004 and retired in 2011. I haven’t mapped 2011 or 2018 because I can’t find the final count numbers for 2011 by constituency and 2018 is boring.



Continuity Menshevik
There's a lot in there that's worthy of further research should anyone be interested, a few examples:

O'Kelly being a chatterbox who kept leaking confidential information to the Knights of Saint Coloumbanus, and ended up leaking Pius XII private views on Communism to the press because he just didn't know when to shut up.

De Valera's election agent in '66 being a certain Mr. C. Haughey, who Dev blamed personally for his near defeat and muttered privately would be the ruin of Fianna Fail.

The Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh story would be an article in itself.

As would the Brian Lenihan saga, which reaches almost Shakespearean proportions with his best friend (Haughey Again) eventually being the one to plunge the knife into his failing Presidential bid.

Irish politics is many things, but it's not dull.
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W. Angst (Labour)
Oh yeah, forgot to say: that's all, folks.

Have now done every political party which has won a Dail seat since 1937, other than the big three and groups of Independents. If this isn't enough for you then you can FU
You should do the National League Party, whose wiki page contains a sentence I've always appreciated:
The contemporary political scientist Warner Moss described the League as "a party of malcontents representing nothing fundamental in Irish political divisions."


Caractacus P. Doom
Published by SLP
I see that and raise you Michael Mullen's characterisation of Irish Labour as "a party of individualists and drunken feckers".

On which point: View attachment 9460
There is something superficially...unsettling about the Irish Labour Party as depicted there. Obviously we know it's not a typical labour party from its history of going into coalition with Fine Gael and so on, but it's the way that (coupled to STV of course) its strength is so...diffuse and not that much stronger in Dublin than in rural counties. Probably looks less unnatural to the Swedes.

Uhura's Mazda

{{{The Independents}}}
Published by SLP
Tamaki Makaurau
There is something superficially...unsettling about the Irish Labour Party as depicted there. Obviously we know it's not a typical labour party from its history of going into coalition with Fine Gael and so on, but it's the way that (coupled to STV of course) its strength is so...diffuse and not that much stronger in Dublin than in rural counties. Probably looks less unnatural to the Swedes.
Indeed, often weaker in Dublin than in the rest of Leinster.

There are a number of factors here, obviously. One significant one is that rural Leinster and Munster were largely made up of large farms, so the ranchers employed a load of agricultural labourers. Those workers were among the best-unionised in the country, thanks to the proactive nature of their union. Meanwhile, those Dublin workers who were unionised were just as likely to belong to the Larkinite Workers' Union of Ireland (which was much less electorally active) as to members of the Irish Trade Union Council which backed the Labour Party. Meanwhile, Labour non-existence in Connacht and Ulster can be explained by the fact that the people there were mostly smallholders running their own farms.

Another is that Labour candidates in rural Ireland tended not to mention their party affiliation, or any ideological bent, on their election addresses. They presented themselves to the electorate as local Independents, who just happened to be sitting in a group of similar TDs called (whisper it) Labour. In practical terms, the ones who were elected in rural constituencies tended to be socially conservative, for obvious reasons, and also economically conservative. Their economic conservatism partly sprang from the labourist tradition of the Labour Party (i.e. it was there to represent workers, whether they be Socialists, Social Democrats, Conservatives or Fascists - at least one future Labour TD went over to fight for Franco in the Spanish Civil War) and partly from fear of the Catholic Church. During a radical phase in the 1930s, Labour started calling for a "Workers' Republic" and the Church (being Extremely Normal) responded by excommunicating anyone known to vote Labour. From then on, no Labour TD even mouthed the word Socialism until 1965, by which time the Church had grown much less politically interventionist.

There was also an organisational aspect: the rural TDs depended not on their local Parties but on their personal hatchet-men, and the Party Leader, Bill Norton, never campaigned outside of his own rural constituency. Even when Brendan Corish took over as a moderniser, he didn't attend any Party events or meetings in Dublin until he'd been Leader for two years. Essentially, the Labour Party was just as much an aggregation of conservative gombeen road-builders as the other two parties.

This changed, as above, in the 60s. The other parties had moved towards economic interventionism in the meantime so Socialism became less of a dirty word. The increasingly active student movements provided a steady stream of new, avowedly progressive members in Dublin. Also, the establishment of RTE propelled a few left-wing broadcasters into the public arena, and some of these (such as Justin Keating and David Thornley, along with the prominent journalist Conor Cruise O'Brien) were recruited as candidates in Dublin for the 1965 election.

(EDIT: Also, Labour became more appealing to the professional classes in the 60s: the first Labour staffer with a university education was hired in 1961 and Noel Browne became the first Labour TD with a degree when he defected a year later.)

So now the electorate were aware that Labour had a brand and some semblance of a political philosophy. The corollary to that was that the people who were attracted by these changes were not necessarily the people who had been voting Labour in previous decades. You will see from the map that Labour goes from one TD in Co. Dublin in 1961 to ten in 1969, while a number of rural TDs lose their seats. Labour thought they were going to break through in '69, hence the full slate, but didn't realise how their new brand - and their anti-coalition-with-FG stance at the time - hurt them in the country. So '69 and '73 are the elections where Labour came closest to having the vote distribution of your typical centre-left party.

Of course, the gains in Dublin were reversed in 1977 - partly because of the experience of coalition with FG and partly because they gerrymandered the constituencies to make the weakest of the three parties lose out. On the basis of '73, that would have been FF in Dublin, but in 1977 it tended to be Labour. After that, Dublin struggled to trust Labour, and when they did vote for the Left in the 1980s, they voted for the Workers' Party. Rural Labour also declined outside the small towns, but was saved by the fact that Dick Spring was from Kerry. And then the Spring Tide of 1992 wiped the slate clean, obviously.
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Uhura's Mazda

{{{The Independents}}}
Published by SLP
Tamaki Makaurau
There is probably a very interesting piece of research to be done on the Northern Irish Parliament elections of the 1920s and how a switch from PR to FPTP basically killed the Northern Irish Labour Parties momentum stone dead:


Yes, I recommend Aaron Edwards' book on the NILP.

The interesting thing, of course, is that people assume that the move to FPTP, and the gerrymandered boundaries, were done to smother the Nationalists. In fact, the target was Labour: the people who drew up the new boundaries actually projected that the Nationalists would gain a seat in 1929, but that didn't happen in practice. And you can see the thinking behind the gerrymander very clearly with regard to the Belfast boundaries: it didn't particularly matter that Nationalists or Republicans would win a few; the philosophy of the boundaries was to combine inner-city deprived areas with outer suburbs (which, to boot, they accurately predicted would grow in population while the slums depopulated over time) so that there would be as few seats as possible with a working-class majority.

After that, the NILP only really got anywhere when they co-opted the Green vote (which they forfeited in the 50s with the Sunday Swings incident) and, later, by appealing to middle-class liberal Protestants like David Bleakley did.

Of course, the confusion arises because of the very deliberate anti-Nationalist gerrymanders of local government electoral divisions.