Elections Live

All the latest from the campaign trail - and beyond

Fiach Kelly, Conor Pope Tue, May 6
LIVE: Elections Live

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  • 09:07
    Good morning, and welcome to Elections Live on irishtimes.com

    I’m Fiach Kelly, Political Correspondent with The Irish Times, and I’ll be keeping you updated throughout the day on the latest from the campaign trail.

    We’ll be running Elections Live every day until all the votes are counted in the aftermath of polling day on May 23rd, bringing you the latest news, gossip, analysis, colour, scandal and unexpected twists from the local and European election trail.

    We’ll also be keeping up our Daily Wire service, with Conor Pope manning the pumps today.  Conor's posts wil be marked CP,  and mine FK.

    Unlike a number of  Fine Gael candidates,  neither Conor or I  have "teams" to update our  Twitter,  Facebook or webpages. So you're stuck with  us.  
    Anyway, politics-wise, here’s what’s happening today:

    The Cabinet is meeting the morning to finally reach agreement on water charges. Speaking on his way into Government Buildings, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he expects the final details to be published later today.

    For an indication of what we can expect, and what Labour and Fine Gael say about the deal that's been reached, read this piece by Marie O’Halloran and Arthur Beesley.

    Expect water to dominate today’s Dáil proceedings too.

    If Cabinet is shaping up to be very boring, the real action is likely to happen in the Fianna Fáil rooms in Leinster House, where Michéal Martin is likely to be pressed on the mess of Mary Hanafin’s nomination as a local election candidate.

    Mr Martin could have spluttered out his morning green tea when he saw his Irish Times today, with Ms Hanafin pictured on the front page holding aloft her Fianna Fáil nomination papers.

    Ms Hanafin is under pressure to withdraw from running in Blackrock, but shows no signs of doing so. The weekend shenanigans have been a disaster for Mr Martin and the Fianna Fáil leadership. As one TD put it: “Sinn Féin are in disarray, the Government is bringing in water charges but we’re in knots over Mary Hanafin running for the council.”

    Following last nights’s rally in Belfast, where Gerry Adams received a standing ovation, Sinn Féin is expected to have a similar event in Dublin’s Alexander Hotel at 7.30 this evening.

    It has been a bruising week for the party, and the reception Mr Adams receives in Dublin will be keenly watched to see if it matches Belfast.

    Fianna Fáil’s former partners in Government, the Greens, are launching their European manifesto in Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin this morning. The party says it will set “out its vision for how to reform the European Union in both a political and social context over the next five-year parliamentary term, and how to create jobs through the Green New Deal”.

    Stay tuned throughout the day for more updates. FK.
  • 09:17

    So, while Fiach will be updating the blog with intelligent and incisive reporting from the campaign trial, me - Conor Pope - will be keeping you up to speed on all the other things happening in our world. And some election stuff too.  

    Starting with the earth shattering report in the Guardian today which says that a third of Britons fear the rise of the machines while 17 per cent of them would be willing to have sex with an android and  per cent expect to see RoboCop-style police within a decade. CP

  • 09:19
    Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm says he transferred hundreds of thousands of euro to his wife in the autumn of 2008 as the banking crisis deepened because his marriage was “seriously strained” and she insisted on “money of her own” in case something happened to him.  Mr Drumm’s lawyers make the claim in new filings in his US bankruptcy case, in which he and his former bank, now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, summarise their cases before a trial starts on May 21st to decide whether he can emerge from bankruptcy free of debt. He owes €8.5 million to State-owned IBRC.  The bank argues that Mr Drumm’s “nefarious transfers” of cash and property to his wife shielded assets from creditors and that these undisclosed transfers along with false claims made in his bankruptcy proceedings in October 2010 should not entitle him to a discharge from bankruptcy.
  • 09:29
    Agreement has been reached between Fine Gael and Labour on water charges. it will be announced after today’s Cabinet meeting. Recipients of the State and invalidity pensions and the disability allowance will receive about €100 from the State to help defray their annual water charge under the proposals. Senior Fine Gael sources said the party had rejected Labour demands for “extensive waivers” for a very large segment of social welfare recipients. The “hardship remediation package” and the scrapping of a €50 standing charge has been cast by Labour sources as something of a victory, after bitter Cabinet exchanges before Easter. The average annual fee to be agreed today will be €240. However, it is recognised on both sides that fees for households bearing the full charge will increase because of the hardship package.
  • 09:32
    Pro-Russian rebels shot down a Ukrainian helicopter in fierce fighting near the eastern town of Slaviansk today, and Kiev drafted police special forces to the southwestern port city of Odessa to halt a feared westward spread of rebellion. Ukraine said the Odessa force, based on “civil activists”, would replace local police who had failed to tackle rebel actions at the weekend. Its dispatch was a clear signal from Kiev that, while tackling rebellion in the east, it would vigorously resist any sign of a slide to a broader civil war.
  • 09:48

    Further to Gerry Adams' monster rallies, he's also holding one in the Metropole Hoel in Cork city centre tomorrow night for Sinn Féin's Euro candidate in Ireland South, Liada Ní Riada. FK

  • 09:57
    It wouldn't be an election without a row over territory between candidates from the same party, and today's Examiner has a piece on skirmishes between Fine Gael Ireland South candidates Deirdre Clune and Séan Kelly.

    Polls so  far have shown  Clune and Kelly to be  favourites to take two seats in the constituency  for FG,  if the party can pull it off, with Simon Harris trailing behind.  

    Fine Gael strategists are past masters of generating rows  in order to draw attention to candidates  they hope will win seats  (e.g. Máiread McGuinness and Avril Doyle), so take this Kelly-Clune  spat with a pinch of salt. FK.          
  • 09:58
    This from Conor Lally: A Dublin man who was extradited to Spain 2½ years ago on drugs and firearms offences is in custody in the Netherlands as the State attempts to extradite him back to the Republic to face unrelated charges. Frederick Thompson (32) was found to be carrying what was alleged to have been an authentic Irish passport under an assumed identity and other false identification papers when detained in a suburb of Amsterdam yesterday. He has been under investigation by gardaí for more than a year for his alleged role in a fight at the funeral of Dubliner Christopher Warren (35), who died in January of last year.
  • 10:09

    Liverpool, eh?

    Gotta hate that.  


  • 10:12

  • 10:13

  • 10:20

    Fianna Fáil usually have a noon press conference on a Tuesday, but no sign of one at all today. I wonder why not? Hmm. FK.

  • 10:29

    Today is the last day to check if you're on the register...

    Go do it now....  

  • 10:30

  • 10:33

    Most candidates are in place for the two by-elections at this stage. However, Labour is having difficulty finding someone in Longford-Westmeath. Could we have just one Government candidate in the constituency? FK.

  • 10:37

    So, this video about the dangers of social media has gone viral.  Via social media.  


  • 11:00

    Mary Hanafin has an hour left to stand aside as a local election candidate in Dublin's Blackrock ward.... Unless she decides to ignore the leadership and leave her hat in th ring.  CP

  • 11:46

    Random pic of the day?  



  • 11:55
    Mary Hanafin is live on Sean O'Rourke now - says she was given the OK by Michéal Martin as late as six pm on Friday evening, but then was told there was a problem at 10.30pm that night.
  • 11:57
    "Oh yes he did," says Hanafin when asked if Martin asked her would she withdraw. Says he asked Friday night, Saturday morning and this morning.

    "Michéal Martin is not an unpleasant person," she says when asked if felt under pressure.
  • 11:58
    She says she's staying in and the people of Blackrock will decide whether she gets elected.

    She says she was given "good reasons, good party reasons to run" and no good reasons for pulling out.
  • 12:00
    Says she was told not to back down by members, TDs and councillors. "I wouldn't do anything to damage the party."
  • 12:02
  • 12:03
    So Mary Hanafin is staying in, and there is no doubt Michéal Martin looks now looks weak. We've posted a short analysis on it here.
  • 12:18
    In international news the leader of Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau has released chilling video footage in which he claims responsiblity for the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls nearly 3 weeks ago. In the video he calls the girls slaves and threatens to "sell thme in the market, by Allah."

    Western education should end,” Shekau said in the 57-minute video, speaking in Hausa and Arabic. “Girls, you should go and get married.”

    The Islamist leader also warned that he would “give their hands in marriage because they are our slaves. We would marry them out at the age of nine. We would marry them out at the age of 12.”

    It is the first time the group has claimed responsiblity for the kidnappings. They were abducted from their school in a remote corner of northeastern Nigeria on April 14th. By some counts 276 remain missing.
  • 12:21
  • 12:26
  • 13:19
    After three weeks of debating, the Coalition has reached agreement on water charges. There were no major surprises out of the press conference in the past hour, with all the major details flagged well in advance, such as the standing charge being scrapped, the assessed charge based on occupancy, relief for people on lower incomes.

    One Fine Gael figure has uncharitably described the last few weeks as a "pantomime" and claimed the package announced today isn't much different from the one which caused the row with Labour last month. From a Fine Gael point of view, the figure of an average charge of €240 still stands. Its middle class voters can live with that, the party hopes.

    Labour will say there are substantial differences with the initial plan, and will claim victories in areas such as the assessed charge, relief and the standing charge.

    More details will follow on the website soon. FK.
  • 13:22
    A correction from earlier: the Simon Harris campaign has been on to point out that he is not "trailing" Deirdre Clune.

    "It's 8 per cent versus 7 per cent with a margin of error of 4.4 per cent," the campaign has helpfully said. That's us told. FK.
  • 13:38
    FF frontbench meeting finished. Sources say Hanafin discussed, but not much criticism of Michèal Martin. FK
  • 14:11

    Irish homeowners will be given a free water allowance of 30,000 litres each year under proposals outlined by the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan this afternoon.  While Mr Hogan claimed the allowance was “generous” it is substantially less than the 140,000 used by the average household.

    A further free annual allocation of 38,000 litres will be given for each child under 18 but the average homeowner is still likely to face a bill of €240 in 2015 and 2016.  Households will start to be billed for water usage in January next year.  The charging regime will remain fixed until end of 2016 and Mr Hogan declined to say what would happen after initial phase had finished.

    As was widely anticipated this morning, plans for a standing charge of €50 have been dropped and charges will be capped for people with high water usage due to certain medical conditions. CP

  • 14:33

    In an attempt to be hip the Live Blog will now tell you of some new additions to this summer's Longitude festival.

    Added to the bill are:


    The Afghan Whigs
    Bipolar Sunshine
    Circa Waves
    Conor Oberst
    Hudson Taylor
    Joey Badass
    Josh Record
    Kyla La Grange
    New Jackson
    San Fermin
    The Academic
    The Acid
    We Cut Corners

  • 14:41
    Further to the earlier post on Sinn Féin’s Dublin rally tonight, a statement has just dropped from Mary-Lou McDonald.

    “This evening we will hold a major election rally in Dublin and we expect a huge crowd in attendance from across the country to show their support for the party,” the Dublin Central TD says.

    “The events of the past week were designed to disrupt Sinn Féin’s progress and our potential in the upcoming elections.
    “However, the party remains focussed, energised and determined.

    “Sinn Féin’s message of standing up strong for Ireland, opposing austerity and setting out our alternative is getting a great reception on the doors across the thirty-two counties. We will not be put off our course.”
  • 14:49

    A blast from the past: another time Mary Hanafin was asked a question three times, this time about Brian Cowen.  From Newstalk's Paraic Gallagher.

  • 15:08
    If you're familar with the fine musical offerings of Mattie McGrath during elections (he usually has a song or two every campaign), here's one from the same stable. H/T to the excellent Irish Election Literature blog.
  • 15:14
    Statement just in from Michéal Martin:

    “It was with great disappointment that we learned that Mary Hanafin, a party member of many years’ standing, chose to ignore Fianna Fáil’s well understood and long standing ratification process when she proceeded to submit nomination papers for the Blackrock LEA despite very clear instructions from the National Constituencies Committee that Fianna Fáil would be proceeding with a one candidate strategy.

    "These processes have been employed to select more than 410 candidates across the country to contest the local elections. Of central importance is that candidates and potential candidates respect these procedures and rules and accept the fact that they apply to all candidates equally.

    “Mary Hanafin’s refusal to respect the process and openly defy the clearly expressed decision of the National Constituencies Committee will now be referred to the Ard Chomhairle’s Rules and Procedures Committee for investigation and ruling.

    “In the meantime, the party will continue to campaign for the properly ratified candidate in Blackrock, Kate Feeney. Kate, the directly elected President of Ógra Fianna Fáil is a new voice in politics and will make an excellent Councillor if elected.”

  • 15:39
    A tough statement from Michéal Martin on Hanafin, but it is too little, too late. She's still a candidate, the debacle has made the party look foolish and Martin weak. Expect this one to resurface after May 23rd. FK.
  • 16:14

    The feeling around Leinster House is Martin's statement is the first move to expel Mary Hanafin from the party. Quite a threat, and while she is not the most popular person amongst members of the parliamentary party, such a move might annoy the wider membership. FK.


  • 16:19

    "Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. . . . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”

    Monica Lewinsky is writing in Vanity Fair about her time in the White House and  all that happened it. CP

  • 16:49
    FF frontbencher Dara Calleary has been out on the plinth talking about water charges, but the questions quickly switched to Mary Hanafin. The Mayo TD stuck to the party line that it was unfortunate Ms Hanafin chose to ignore party rules and repeated that Kate Feeney is the official candidate. Asked about Ms Hanafin putting up posters in Blackrock this afternoon, Mr Calleary said he hoped she didn't fall off any ladders. FK.
  • 16:55
    The Data Protection Commissioner has found Alan Shatter broke the law by disclosing personal information about Mick Wallace on Prime Time last year. Labour says it has confidence in Mr Shatter. FK
  • 17:41

    One last post for the day, and then we're off until tomorrow morning. Pick up more news and analysis in tomorrow’s paper, including Stephen Collins on how the Hanafin debacle has affected Michéal Martin’s leadership.

    The Shatter-Data Protection story is just breaking, however, at this early stage it looks like he has nothing major to worry about. Mick Wallace has called for his resignation but Labour has expressed confidence in the minister so it looks like this could blow over quite quickly.

    That’s not stopping Fine Gael taking precautions. Party HQ has sent a text to all its TDs instructing them to direct any media queries to the party press office.

    Fine Gael also holds its selection convention tonight for the Dublin West by-election. Two candidates are going forward, Senator Eamonn Coghlan and Fingal councillor Kieron Dennison. Mr Coghlan is seen as the favourite, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny will attend the event at the Castleknock Hotel and Country Club. See you back here tomorrow. FK.