The state of the parties as we head into the last week:
Fianna Fail: The Martin strategy, depending on who you talk to, either hasn’t worked or it has staunched the bleeding and kept the patient just breathing. FF people are now hoping that their soft voters are just too ashamed to even admit to pollsters that they will vote FF, but will do the business on the day.
Fine Gael: The Invisible Man strategy has worked, if the polls are to be believed. The prospect of a single party FG government has thrown a new factor into the campaign, and one which may not just effect FG. Enda’s low expectations entry into the debate worked a treat.
Labour: Labour will gain seats, but will have to confront the reality that a critical mass of Irish people just don’t subscribe to the values that Labour attributes to itself. However, Labour’s very possible ascent to the position of official opposition is a glimmer of light in the dark.
Sinn Fein: Gerry Adams’s strong performance in the debate hit just the right note for his target audience. SF on target to deliver solidly for themselves.
The Greens: John Gormley’s strong, frank performance in the debate will, the party must hope, help bring back that crucial 5-7% of the electorate who might vote Green. But will it be enough, or is iy just too late? The FG landslide presents the Greens with a last throw of the dice and a clear message: Given the last week of Labour and FG beating the crap out of each other, we are a more likely coalition partner to hold FG in check. But will they throw the dice?
The ULA: The noise from the target seats is good. Joe, Clare Daly, Thomas Healy and Mick Barry all apparently looking serious, despite the lack of national coverage. Or maybe because of it?
Finally: TG4 are right to be proud of the debate. But given the Irish language and west of Ireland slant, it resembled, to me, something similar to watching the US Israeli Lobby question US candidates as to their agenda.