There were a few events and a few non-events this week that suggest the widely held political narrative that Sinn Féin will come to power after the next election may not be a foregone conclusion.
He was first there earlier in the week when RTÉ aired his new show Monday night live, presented by David McCullagh. On the show, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris faced off against Sinn Féin’s corporate spokeswoman, Louise O’Reilly, in a post-budget duel.
Curiously, the normally confident O’Reilly struggled to compete with Harris, who was pleased that the government was doing more for the cash-strapped in its budget than Sinn Féin suggested in its contingency plan.
O’Reilly’s responses seemed tired and unconvincing, while Harris rolled out lists of energy supports people would receive as the days got shorter and colder.
Harris is currently running for the post of Minister for Public Expenditure following the December reshuffle so it was not surprising that he upped the ante but it was remarkable to see the responses from one of Sinn Féin’s leading phones.
Sinn Féin’s post-budget struggles were highlighted again in an opinion poll by market research firm Amárach Irish Daily Mail showing that only 27 percent of respondents believed the party could handle the cost-of-living crisis, while 37 percent believed the government was best placed to face the challenge.
But the poll showed that the generation gap is still very wide in this country, with 52 percent of people aged 18 to 24 supporting Sinn Féin to fight record inflation, and just 9 percent of the same age group saying so , the government is better equipped.
On the other hand, 57 percent of those over 55 believe government can solve the energy, fuel and food crises, while just one in five in this group believe Sinn Féin can. This comforts the governing parties given the proportionately larger number of older voters who tend to show up on election day.
For once, during Leader’s Questions in the Dáil, Taoiseach Micheál Martin enjoyed his weekly scuffles with Mary Lou McDonald. The proposed 10 percent concrete block levy was the talk of the day and Sinn Féin opposes the measure.
In response to McDonald’s calls for the government to drop the levy, the Taoiseach read examples from Sinn Féin calling for an identical levy on the construction industry last year. A few quotes from George Orwell about “doublethink” were thrown in, and the Taoiseach closed with a quote aimed squarely at the floating voters who were not yet convinced of Sinn Féin’s economic policies: “God help us if they’re ever near.” of state finances. ”
A conspicuous but predictable absence from last week’s political diary was the weekly Sinn Féin press conference, which takes place on the plinth of Leinster House on Tuesday mornings – barring awkward matters which the media might wish to meddle in.
With the party ranked high in opinion polls, Sinn Féin declined to answer pressing questions about McDonald’s association with a man who is now a notorious criminal – in the person of former party councilor and political donor Jonathan Dowdall.
Sinn Féin also wanted to avoid addressing revelations contained in an unauthorized biography of the Sinn Féin guide by Shane Ross that appeared in this newspaper last week.
In the Dáil chamber, McDonald demanded transparency and accountability from the Taoiseach, but when it came to her own party, she lowered the shutters. Sinn Féin TDs were not rolled out to talk about one of their former colleagues who became a state witness after admitting his role in the most notorious gang killing in the state’s history.
McDonald did not answer questions about a separate assault conviction Dowdall received for waterboarding a man he said owed him money. In this brutal attack, the victim’s face was covered with a tea towel and water was poured over his head. During the attack, Dowdall bragged about being friends with McDonald and Gerry Adams.
Separately, Ross’ book raised questions about how McDonald and her husband paid for the complete conversion of a small bungalow they bought in Cabra into a far larger home.
Introducing the book, former RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke said that unless McDonald and Sinn Féin “provide convincing answers to the questions this book asks about how this house was funded, my media peers will not be prepared to accept warning letters “. Sinn Féin’s lack of outspokenness, its “control mania,” might have been understandable during the riots, but in modern times it’s “deeply troubling,” he said.
The party’s path towards transparency will be followed with increasing interest as the next general election approaches.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/all-to-play-for-at-the-next-election-as-sinn-fein-big-hitters-have-an-off-week-42051460.html Everything to do in the next election as Sinn Féin’s big hitters have a week off