Handicapping elections in Ireland’s European parliamentary constituencies.Photocall

When will the next Irish election be? I’m still betting on November 2015 rather than next Spring. Under the constitution, the Dáil must be dissolved by March 7, 2016 at the latest and the elections must be held by April 8. The reasons why Enda Kenny is not being completely forthcoming when he says that he will go the full term are, in no particular order:

1. Nice, feel-good budget is coming in October. There will something in it for everyone. Minister Noonan has already said that there will be a reduction in the Universal Social Charge. Minister O’Sullivan has said that she will be hiring 900 more teachers. Minister Fitzgerald has said that she will be hiring 500 more gardaí and the list goes on and on. Apparently, we have found an extra €1.5 billion ($1.7 bn) but, sure, even if we break the EU guidelines, the fine will only be about €300 million ($335m) and by the time they get around to identifying exactly how much we broke the rules by, everyone will have forgotten about it and they will all be back in Leinster House.

2. Latest growth figures were good and showed that the Irish economy was growing faster than expected. The major problem with the figures is that there was no breakdown between Dublin/Cork and the rest of Ireland. Rural Ireland is not growing at five or six per cent. Donegal certainly is not!

The longer the wait, someone will do a detailed breakdown and demonstrate how rural Ireland is actually going in the opposite direction. True, house prices in Dublin are increasing, but that is a short term bubble and you would think that we would have learned our lesson from that little experiment.

3. Easter is early this year – on March 27! Either way, the election would have to be just before or after the Easter Rising celebrations, which will benefit Sinn Féin. The election cannot be held on Holy Thursday or Good Friday. St Patrick’s day is the previous Thursday so it cannot be held that week, which brings us back to Wednesday March 9 or Thursday March 10. This does not give a lot a time to get the annual “let’s all go overseas, presumably first-class, at taxpayers expense, and have a great time trip planned!” Irish Government Ministers and TDs and Senators live for their annual global trips to exotic, far-flung parts of the globe, the ultimate, of course, getting included in the trip to the White House! If this logic follows on, then the election would need to be held on March 2 or 3.

4. The withdrawal of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from the assembly in the Northern Ireland mess makes Sinn Féin look less cohesive. They looked as if they were very influential on both sides of the border. The collapse of the Assembly makes them look less credible as a possible alternative government.

Stormont Assembly in Belfast. Image: Photocall Ireland.

Stormont Assembly in Belfast. Image: Photocall Ireland.

5. Water rates will definitely become more of an issue, especially now that Jobstown (where protestors were arrested) has brought it back into the spotlight. They probably will be able to defer the trials of the protesters until after the elections, BUT there will be more protests and more arrests. This is a boil that is festering and getting worse.

6. This is also why the coalition came out early and said that they would agree to transfer votes between each other. This is because they are going to go to the polls early and it is important that Labour and Fine Gael start collaborating and not tripping over each other. There was no reason why they had to announce the transfer agreement so soon.

7. Some high-powered world leaders, Prime Minister of India, etc. are visiting Ireland. This will give Enda a chance to show statesmanship.

8. Global Economic Forum is in November at Dublin Castle. Lots of great photo opportunities for all the Ministers and government TDs.

9. The longer he waits the more likely it is that Sinn Féin will wake up and realize that if they are really serious about winning, they need to revamp their leadership. If Kenny leaves it to next year that will give them time to wake up and shake up their leadership team.

10. And finally, the main reason why I believe that commentator Ivan Yates has it right when he says there will be a November election (and it pains me to agree with Ivan), is that Enda has said there will not be one in November!

Politicians tend say one thing and do another!