Let’s be honest. I know very, very little about DSW or its political culture, as it is radically different from the Dublin constituencies I’m familiar with. But the coming byelection could be about to tell us some very interesting things about Donegal.
For a start, is there any other constituency in the country where Fianna Fail would have any chance at all of winning a byelection? After everything that has happened in the last year, it’s very possible that Fianna Fail will at least come a strong second. What does that say about DSW?
Sinn Fein are the favourites, and have an attractive, articulate candidate. So is Donegal swinging to the left? Probably not, because in Donegal SF public reps seem to sound like FF public reps (that is, other people should pay for everything) only with a bit more Brit hating thrown in. That’s hating of the British people, by the way, not their telly, as Donegal South West is the only constituency in the country to elect a member of parliament to ensure they could watch Corrie. But what’s interesting is that basically DSW seems poised to elect a non-FF FF candidate.
No, they cry. Sinn Fein is a distinct party with radically different policies from Fianna Fail. Like believing in the right of a woman to choose whether to have an abortion, or not. Now, don’t get me wrong. Sinn Fein have shown courage in the south in being pro-choice, but what’s the bets that SF’s candidate will be very quick to stress how similar his policy on this issue is to FF and FG?
So, to clarify: DSW, the constituency that voted No to Lisbon because of, amongst other things, abortion, is about to elect a TD from the only pro-choice party in the country who will stress that his personal beliefs on the issue are not that different from his opponents. There’s a radical departure in Irish politics for you.
And anyway, abortion is not going to be an issue in the byelection, surely? A fair point. Sure, what has abortion got to do with electing a member of a pro-choice party to the parliament that can legalise abortion? How about as much as voting no to a treaty that has F**k all to do with abortion but saying that it does anyway?