The perfect political storm occurs. Unemployment is at 18% in the run up to polling day. A hurricane hits the west coast on polling day, depressing turnout. Yet another scandal about strange payments to Fianna Fail politicians erupts, and in a pre-election debate Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is actually made cry by an embattled Taoiseach Cowan, which causes many FG voters to stay at home, or vote for independent candidates.
The stunning performance of Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald in a following debate galvanises left wing support, and cements her position as leader of the Sinn Fein/Socialist Party/People Before Profit/Independent Socialist Left Change Alliance (LCA).
With turnout at a record low of 48% concentrated primarily in the East, the count lasts over nine days, with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael narrowly losing scores of seats by tiny margins.
Fianna Fail 48
Sinn Fein 39
Fine Gael 28
Socialist Party 10
People Before Profit 6
Green Party 3
Coir/Youth Defence 3
When the Dail meets to elect a new government, Mary Lou McDonald is nominated by Sinn Fein, Socialist, PBP and independent deputies brought on board by generous spending commitments to their constituencies, including a €850 million new university in North Leitrim, a €1.4 billion Roscommon International Airport and a €1.2billion light rail system for Wexford town, the Wexford Area Rapid Transit.
The Labour party, in bitter chaos following its surprising reversal, refuses to vote against the first left wing and female Taoiseach nominee with a real chance of being elected, and promises to vote on issues as they arise. Following the defeat of outgoing Taoiseach Cowan, and no candidate winning a majority, the Ceann Comhairle, a recently elected former FG TD elected as an independent, suspends the house for a day to allow for negotiations between the parties.
The following day, Mary Lou McDonald announces a minority LCA government elected with by Labour abstentions and support from Labour rebels, the three Coir/Youth Defence deputies, and a number of independent deputies, giving nominee McDonald a majority. A row proceeds to break out when Labour discover that McDonald has promised Coir/Youth Defence a cabinet position.
An Taoiseach Mary Lou McDonald TD SF
Tanaiste, Finance Joe Higgins TD SP
Foriegn Affairs Richard Boyd Barrett TD PBP
Justice Aengus O’Snodaigh TD SF
Health Sean Crowe TD SF
Defence Martin Ferris TD SF
Enterprise Mick Murphy TD SP
Social and Family Martin O’Hallorhan TD CYD
Agriculture & Food Patricia McKenna TD Ind
Education Claire Daly TD SP
and Marine Cillian Forde TD SF
Chief Whip Pearse Doherty TD SF
Taoiseach McDonald announces that the Dail will remain in session for six months solid to push through the government programme “Building a Socialist Ireland”. Government immediately announces that it will meet INO demands for a pay increase and cut to a 35 hour week.
Government introduces emergency budget, increasing public sector pay, and large increases in public spending in all areas, with particularly large increases in welfare, health and education. NGOs and pressure groups express delight as their “shopping lists” are all met. Large Increases in capital gains tax and corporate taxation are announced. Government abandons Maastricht borrowing criteria.
Minimum wage increased from €8.65 per hour to €12.00. Government satisfaction rises to 57% in polls.
Massive protests from business.
Clare Daly calls for bill to permit “Councils of Working Class people” to start taking decision making powers off state bodies, businesses. Commission to define “working class” set up.
Justice minister O’Snodaigh announces that Ireland shall offer political asylum to any individual who requests it, and shall not deport any asylum seeker.
Government introduces Neutrality Act, banning all businesses from selling any product to any country on a proscribed list. Food exports to middle eastern countries are banned.
Small Firms Association announces large numbers of layoffs caused by increases in costs to business caused by minimum wage and business taxation increases.
Socialist Party Enterprise minister Mick Murphy TD rushes through emergency legislation to prevent businesses from dismissing employees.
Teachers, public sector unions issue demands for pay increases in line with those received by nurses. Government parties agree to all demands as per previous public commitments.
Unemployment reaches 22%. ECB, European Commission warn government on huge increases in borrowing.
Richard Boyd Barrett bans US forces from Shannon. Protests from local businesses, unions.
Aengus O’Snodaigh scraps Special Criminal Court, Offences against the state act, disbands Special Branch.
Coir/Youth Defence minister Martin O’Hallorhan introduces generous Stay At Home Allowance for mothers. A row breaks out over regulations which say that the payment will only be made to married women whose children were born within wedlock. Joe Higgins attacks the minister in public. Verbally, that is.
Sean Crowe announces immediate closure of all public-private hospitals, scrapping of National Treatment Purchase Fund as “un-socialist”, and prepares for abolition of private health insurance as per Sinn Fein’s manifesto.
Government support reaches 59%.
“Working Class Commission” resigns in failure to agree definition of working class for purpose of working class councils. Members argue publicly as to whether working class is a product of birth or economic status. Commission does rule, however, that a public sector employee earning over €75,000 per annum is working class, whereas a self-employed shopkeeper earning €30,000 is a member of the upper class ruling elite.
To be continued.