What's happening on the campaign trail - and more

Fiach Kelly Mon, May 12
LIVE: Elections

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  • 10:00
    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.

    Here's what's on the agenda today:

    The Taoiseach's efforts to shake every hand in Ireland (or so Fine Gael claim) before polling day continue. He's in Longford, Sligo and Roscommon this evening.

    Sinn Féin holds its European manifesto launch in Buswell's Hotel at 2pm this afternoon.

    And not much else besides, I'm afraid.

    The weekend has seen much talk of Government resets, especially from Labour, and more analysis of the events of last week. (Our lead story this morning sketches out the new powers GSOC feels it should have).

    Government sources have been insisting for months that a full scale renegotiation of the Programme for Government will not work, mostly because Fine Gael and Labour wouldn't be able to agree on much these days.

    Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Pat Rabbitte floated the 'reset' idea yesterday, But is it a smart move, asks my colleague Harry McGee?

  • 10:07

    Here we are getting in a lather over the European elections, yet Stephen Collins reports this morning that not many people are bothered. But does it mean MEPs need to make more  of an effort  to communicate with their voters between elections?

  • 10:15

    Senator Rónán Mullen has been busy campaigning in Midlands North-West, mostly below the radar, although Miriam Lord caught up with him for Saturday’s paper.

    He has released some occasional press statements, yet this morning’s missive raises an interesting point about the Twitter campaign to highlight the case of the 329 Nigerian schoolchildren kidnapped by militant jihadist group Boko Haram.

    While Mullen himself sent a message with the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, he says it is “nonsensical to suppose that a message I send of a picture taken of myself and my supporters in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, holding a sign saying #BringBackOurGirls, is going to have the slightest impact on a violent terrorist organisation that abducted 329 Nigerian schoolgirls at gunpoint”.

    "It is an indictment of international diplomacy that politicians and celebrities have to resort to social media to highlight the plight of these young girls. I am aware from media reports that 53 of the schoolgirls are reported to have escaped.

    “However, the fact that some three weeks after they were kidnapped, 276 girls are still missing is an outrage, and the Nigerian Government must be compelled, through all available diplomatic channels, to do more to find and rescue these children.

    “It is very disturbing to read of rumours that some of the girls have been sold as brides for a mere €10, and trafficked across Nigeria's border, and I sincerely hope that these rumours prove to be unfounded.

    “Do Boko Haram care about Twitter? I doubt very much that they do. Whilst politicians tweeting about the appalling kidnap of these children might seem foolish, I hope that I am at least playing some part in ensuring that these poor schoolgirls are safely returned to their family and friends."


  • 10:16
    A slightly different take on Mullen's point:
  • 10:19

    He speaks! And not to have ago at Michéal Martin either:

  • 10:23
    As any of you who are regular Twitter users  know, elections see a raft of cringe-worthy "great to be on the canvass today with...." Tweets, complete with a smiling candidate in jovial pose somewhere around our fair isle.  

    We'll try and  pick the best (most embarrassing)  such Tweets and post them here towards  the end of the day's blog.  

    Fancy  nominating one or two that cross your radar? Tweet me at @fiachkelly and I'll post them up here.
  • 10:27
    Here's a dinger from the weekend, courtesy of Fine Gael senator Michael D'Arcy, who was on the campaign trail with FG Euro candidate Simon Harris and Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe. Nothing says "purpose" like a stare into the middle distance from the safety of castle ruins.

  • 10:37
    Speaking of Simon, he's resurrected Fine Gael's five point plan from the 2011 general election. Ah, memories.....
    Speaking of Simon, he's resurrected Fine Gael's five point plan from the 2011 general election. Ah, memories.....
  • 10:59

    Perhaps he's easily impressed, or maybe we're a tad cynical?

  • 11:07

    The Midlands-North West Euro candidates will take part in a live debate on TV3's Tonight with Vincent Browne show tonight.

    One of those prepping for the debate characterised the tone of the advance questions sent to the parties as follows: "Why is Europe so useless?"

    Should be fun.  

  • 11:29
    Noooo - make it stop! Whoever puts a ban on selfies in their manifesto is sure to top the poll. The latest cringe courtesy of the Sinn Féin top brass:

  • 12:03
    Not to be outdone by Mattie McGrath and his magical banjos, People Before Profit have released their own campaign song.  

    An uplifting little ditty, one verse goes: "Liars, liars at your door, chalking up the  votes, keeping score with the same old lines we've heard before."    

    "Put the people before the profit, put the need before the greed, and we'll find a new direction beyond the Orange and the Green," adds the chorus.

    Actually, it's not bad by the standard of campaign songs, even  it it  fails to  scale the heights  of 'Arise and Follow Charlie'.   The  song, by Paddy Nash from People Before Profirt in Derry,  is posted below for your listening pleasure.  
  • 12:08

    If you're having trouble opening the song on the blog, People Before Profit have helpfully provided a download link. And being good socialists,  it's free of course.

  • 12:14
  • 12:14

    Now we've strayed into   That's What I Call Election Music territory, here's my personal favourite from Mattie McGrath's 2011 vintage:

  • 12:40
    Just in case you didn't hear Labour calling for a reset over the weekend, Pat Rabbitte has been spelling it out again today. Geddit now?
  • 12:52

    "Great canvass" Tweet alert. Unfortunately Simon  features again, albeit  with Ministerial imprimatur this time:


  • 13:17

    On a more serious note, what is behind the Labour noises over the weekend and today?

    Pat Rabbitte was firm in his statement that there should be no more cuts and taxes because people really have had enough by now. However, we still have a €2 billion budget adjustment pencilled in for this October. Labour successfully brought last October’s Budget down from €3.1 billion to €2.5 billion after Eamon Gilmore and others insisted for months beforehand that the adjustment had to be softened.

    Labour used the tactic of shouting long enough and hard enough about something in the hope they would get their way. It had previously been used in the run up to the promissory note deal, when Gilmore told Angela Merkel the Government would fall if a deal wasn’t reached. Pat Rabbitte also  made all sorts of ominous noises and earned a rebuke from Michael Noonan at one stage for doing so.

    Gilmore and Rabbitte are allies of old, and their moves over the weekend could be seen as the opening salvos of the budget negotiations. Is Labour going to push for a neutral budget?

  • 14:15
    Fresh from their selfie, Sinn Féin's Euro manifesto launch is underway:

  • 14:29

    Below are the main points of Sinn Féin’s European manifesto. The more curious or enthusiastic of you can read the entire document, if you fancy it.

    1 To secure greater investment from the European Investment Bank to create jobs in Ireland north and south.

    2 To secure a deal on the legacy debt in AIB and BoI and a new deal on the Anglo Irish Bank/IBRC promissory notes.

    3 To defend workers’ pay and conditions and to promote a basic threshold of decency for all workers.

    4 To ensure a fairer distribution of CAP and adequate supports for our farming and fishing communities.

    5 To secure urgent action on climate change at an EU and domestic level.

    6 To return powers to member states and increase the influence of member state parliaments in the EU legislative process.

    7 To reduce the power of the Commission, ending its power of initiative and making it more transparent and accountable to the European and member state parliaments.

    8 To increase power of smaller states at the Council of Ministers through a reform of the Qualified Majority Voting procedure.

    9 To reassert Ireland’s positive neutrality and to withdraw from the emerging EU common defence.

    10 To promote Irish unity and EU support for a border poll.

  • 14:53
    Ah heyor, leave ih ouh' - another Sinn Féin selfie!  

  • 15:16

    From Glasnevin Cemetery's Twitter feed:

  • 15:34

    Sinn Féin momentarily paused their selfie binge today to talk about their European plans, and Gerry Moriarty reports on the Belfast launch where Gerry Adams said his recent arrest had "galvanised" republicans.

  • 15:51
    Gossip around Leinster House is that Fine Gael have polls in the field this week, or else have poll results coming back. The assumption is they are constituency Euro polls, but we'll let you know as soon as we hear more.
  • 16:09

    Gerry Adams now retweeting Martin McGuinness's selfie from earlier. I preferred when his tweets were about Ted, bed, cake, mountains and other assorted niceties.

  • 17:00
    Just signing off for the evening, we'll be back on the blog again tomorrow. A quiet day politically, to be honest. The sense is we are in a brief lull between the Shatter-justice affair and the eruption of full blown campaigning towards the end of this week.  

    One final item of the day,  however. The Democracy Matters group which campaigned to save the Seanad is urging voters to ask election candidates about reform of the Upper House. Hardly the most pressing matter, but spare a thought for the senators themselves.

    Councillors are massive part of the electorate for the Seanad, and senators usually tend to them as a shepard would his flock. Perhaps a few Seanadóirí are  nervously watching their favoured councillors, hoping they survive the cull  on  Friday  week to make  it through to the  next Seanad election.