Mary Lou McDonald's speech in the Dail (Irish Parliament) on Friday, where she fiercely defends Sinn Fein's right to be in government has just gone viral.
"The motif or theme emerging from this election is one of change," she says. "But I hear a note from some members that might seek to suggest that this (vote) was some kind of capricious nonsense on the part of the electorate... Nothing could be further from the truth."
Sinn Fein say that this video of Mary Lou McDonald's speech has almost 1 million views in the last 15 hrs across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Most of that seems to be on Facebook, where it has had 717,000 views and about 1,700 people are watching *right now* as I tweet. https://t.co/SgewBG4d5K— Ellen Coyne (@ellenmcoyne) February 21, 2020
Sinn Féin topped the first preference poll and secured a total of 37 seats in the election - one fewer than Fianna Fáil and two more than former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's Fine Gael.
However Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has ruled out entering into a coalition with Sinn Féin, the party that McDonald reminded him won the largest share of the vote in the recent election.
Now Martin, in despite of that mandate, will hold talks with Fine Gael about forming their own coalition in the hope of offsetting Sinn Féin's historic gains.
Not so fast, McDonald said in the Dail yesterday, do the math. Fianna Fáil's refusal to countenance a coalition government with Sinn Féin is increasingly being seen as a desperate political gambit.
Knowing that the young electorate are in open revolt against the status quo - in particular against the unfettered globalization that lifts up multinationals but not the public good - the establishment's cloth-eared response is simply to give them more of the same, but this time in duplicate in the form of a Fianna Fail/Fianna Gael government. Blindsided by Sinn Féin's remarkable rise and fearful of the implications for their own future, Fianna Fáil's leader Micheal Martin has clearly decided that stonewalling is better than some kind of half surrender to a dramatic change of direction he neither respects nor welcomes.
Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael have apparently concluded that going into government with their old center-right rivals is a much better prospect than having Mary Lou McDonald become the Taoiseach (Prime Minister).
Their decision will deliver a sound slap to the face of Sinn Féin voters of course, as well as to the easily overlooked desire of younger people to see the country take a much needed new direction on housing, considering how many young people there may now never own their own home in their lifetimes.
Yesterday both Varadkar and Martin tweeted the same link to the same ominous Irish Times feature quoting Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (the former head of the PSNI) insisting Sinn Féin are still overseen by an army council.
The more I think about it, the more gobsmacked I am by this quite extraordinary (& clearly politically motivated) intervention by a serving Garda Commissioner to try to influence government formation. #Gardageddon #Direland #GE2020 https://t.co/0FN372eIKO— 🦄 Izzy Kamikaze 🦄 (@IzzyKamikaze) February 22, 2020
The statement was an unusually political one for a usually non-political Garda Commissioner to make, which suggests the wider sense of unease currently at play.
But by reminding the public there's little daylight between the two parties objections to Sinn Féin, they also remind us there's little between their political objectives either.
Given the recent election results, is that really the wisest path forward for them? You may have thought the Irish electorate sent them an unmistakable message - as well as a howl of pain - but that would be to ignore the complacency has long supplanted consideration in the Dail (Irish parliament).
It also sends a dire message to the North, all this short term posturing. If either party actually cared about the north's fate they would be more circumspect about sending this particular message, at this particular moment, but we are where we are.
- We’re still at a loss to explain the rise in popularity of Sinn Féin, and in particular how they resonate with younger voters and the disillusioned.— Philip O'Connor (@philipoconnor) February 21, 2020
- Should we do another article about them and the IRA?
- You’re a genius, off you go. https://t.co/mrP6OsSjZF
Old reflexes are hard to overcome, as Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil's finance spokesman, reminded us in the Financial Times yesterday. "The major objection that we have to Sinn Féin's economic plan is that they don’t seem to realize that Ireland is a very open trading economy and that changes to our tax system, particularly around multinational corporations, would have an immediate impact on the attractiveness of Ireland as a place for international investment," he said.
What about the major problem that voters have with multinationals paying little to no tax and having minimal impact on the material lives of the people who live nearby them? When, if ever, will that be addressed?
It's no wonder that the two traditional parties are floundering and reflexively reaching for the - Garda - rails they have always depended upon, but nothing is working like it used to.
Change has already arrived and some are simply a little further along the famous Kubler-Ross five stages than others.