Where’s Ireland’s party political earthquake now?

The last election was seen at the time as an electoral earthquake. In the midst of the worst economic crisis in our history it was to be expected that the voters would be gunning for the government of the day. The devastation of Fianna Fáil (losing three-quarters of their seats) and the disappearance of the Greens (losing all of theirs) certainly seemed of earthquake proportions, as were the historically high levels of electoral volatility – one of the highest ever recorded in any democracy (see here). It was said at the time that politics would never be the same again: moulds had been broken; party allegiances had been blown away; Fianna Fáil were judged to be in their death throes never to return again.

And yet…. Even at that time a closer look at the entrails of the results might have suggested that perhaps things were not quite as dramatic as they seemed at first blush. For instance, even though Fine Gael and Labour each won more Dáil seats than ever before (in the process knocking Fianna Fáil off that party’s hallowed perch as the top dog in the Dáil), it is worth noting that Fine Gael have won more votes in the past, and Labour’s vote total only just matched what they were winning in the height of their ‘Spring tide’. As for Sinn Féin, the anti-austerity wing of the Left, they could only manage a few percentage points of extra support. The big winners in that election were the independents, an exotic ragbag of individual politicians with little commonality of purpose (as befits their status).

That the main winners in the election were independents says something about the state of public opinion on Irish politics. Absent any serious choice between alternative parties, it seems that many voters felt they had little choice but to vote for independents.

Two years on and opinion poll trends (see analysis here) would appear to support the contention that the 2011 election was more a blip than an earthquake: Fianna Fáil are once again the top party (although still far below their traditional 40% levels); Fine Gael and Labour are settling back to familiar support levels (with Labour anticipated to do as badly in the next election as they generally do after a period in government); Sinn Féin’s support base while certainly rising is lower than it should be given the economic climate and its populist agenda.

The one constant is the continuing (if slightly declining) high levels of support for independents and spectacularly high levels of ‘don’t knows’ (35% in the recent Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll). It remains the case that in the absence of any serious choice between alternative parties the voters vacilate between support for independents or for ‘none of the above’. With nowhere to go the votes are going nowhere.

In short, what we have is a classic (if extreme) case of what the late Peter Mair would have referred to as voters ‘available to change’. All that seems lacking is a force for change, a political entrepreneur to rally a new group, a new political party that voters might latch on to.

So why hasn’t one emerged? Names of possible political entrepreneurs are bandied about, among them Pat Cox, Michael McDowell, or the indomitable Declan Ganley – the latter certainly showing all the signs of intent (see here). But so far there’s no real challenge to the established party system.

Possible explanations for this include: the high cost of election campaigns (requiring deep pockets to mount effective challenges), the relative unfairness of our electoral system whose small constituencies produce high electoral thresholds that are difficult for small parties to surpass, and the lack of a credible alternative who doesn’t come with baggage. Furthermore, this economic crisis has tainted most professions, limiting the potential for some ‘shining star’ to emerge.

The next election could well throw up surprises, but as of now the potential for real electoral change seems pretty remote.

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13 thoughts on “Where’s Ireland’s party political earthquake now?

  1. Agree with almost all of that. At present there’s definitely an opening for a new party of some kind (what kind is a good question though). But if it doesn’t happen soon IMO there’s a real chance it won’t happen for at least another generation. I’ve bandied my “worst of both worlds” Irish electoral system pet theory about here previously: that our seriously limited proportionality (4 seat average size) means we don’t get all that much clear water in terms of party choice than AV/FPTP (imagine FG/Lab as one party and FF as the other over the past few decades under AV, not sure that’d look all that different to our actual history most of the time). And then what proportionality is there, plus having the Seanad as a temporary hangout place for TDs that lost their seats, dilutes the blunt accountability aspect (at which the UK system arguably excels) down to almost nothing. And more recent donation limits may have the side-effect of inhibiting new party formation. Perhaps something of a perfect recipe for inertia and a moribund party dynamics?

    I think the constitutional convention was on the right track for PR-STV when it recommended a minimum constitutional size of 5 for constituencies. But maybe too timid a lower limit? If there was actually such a lower limit I suspect electoral acts would be drawn up to prioritize keeping the average size as close to 5 as possible rather than having such an emphasis on respecting county boundaries. The difference between a current constituency average size of circa 4 and a hypothetical one of slightly over 5 isn’t all that big. Northern Ireland copes fairly well with having PR-STV six seaters everywhere. Would personally have gone for a 6 seat lower bound with the expectation that the average size would probably in practice end up being not much bigger than that.

    Seanad abolition might actually improve the bluntness aspect of our electoral system (one plus point in its favour). Though must say I’m very disappointed with the form of the abolition amendment we’ve been presented with. Seanad abolition (however one feels about Seanad reform) represents major constitutional surgery and therefore presents a once-in-several-decades golden opportunity for a measure of Oireachtas reform. This however is a lazy minimalist abolition amendment that is almost 100% reform free. Seanad rant warning! 😉 (which I’ve, perhaps mercifully, decided to break into a separate reply 🙂 )

  2. We deserve to be voting on a far better and more reforming abolition amendment than what we’re getting. About the single good thing one could say about it is that it at least protects judicial/C&AG/Presidential removal/impeachment with new or increased Dáil super-majorities (Shatter’s recent brush ups against the Gardaí, judiciary etc. probably ensured not having these would have been a step too far, and maybe they didn’t want to spook the horses with talk of erosion of protections as per the Oireachtas inquiries referendum).

    The lack of any form of legislative delay provisions whatsoever is to me by far the most glaring deficiency of this bill. And that’s a bit ironic given how it seems this amendment bill is going to be guillotined through the Dáil (yet another bill getting this treatment in this Dáil like the majority of other bills so far this term). There’ll actually be no constitutional requirement for a bill to even have more than one reading/stage in the Dáil. Would be quite feasible (even if hopefully unlikely) for a future government to change Dáil procedures to require only a single vote to pass a bill.

    Many of the small unicameral countries held up as shining examples of late have explicit constitutional requirements for at least two stages for passing a bill. And most have some delay built in between these stages or at least the potential for some delay to be triggered.

    Luxembourg has a minimum delay of 3 months (see http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/lu00000_.html, article 59) unless the chamber and the Council of State (appointed by the Grand Duke) agree to curb this time. OK, there’s only a minimum 3 day delay in Norway between first and last stage (but something at least). In some of the small semi-presidential countries the President usually has kind of delay power (up to 3-month pocket veto in Finland, 2-month suspension by either President or 1/3 qualified minority of MPs in Latvia, even referral to a referendum in Iceland). In Denmark, 2/5 of MPs can direct the speaker to delay the final stage of a bill by 12 week days (http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/da00000_.html, section 42(3)). And of course many of the bigger countries still have 2nd chambers and the possible delay that goes with those. But I guess our parliament is functioning so splendidly that such conventional safeguards would be superfluous?

    Ideally, an amendment bill would have transferred the Seanad’s notional and largely theoretical delay powers to the Dáil (perhaps writing an explicit requirement for two or more stages into the constitutional, and maybe allowing a qualified majority of one third of TDs to ask the Ceann Comhairle to delay the final stage of a money bill for 21 days and a non-money bill for 3 months). The provisions for emergency bills allow more than enough leeway to circumvent this in pressing situations if the President assents. But I find it worrying a government with an almost two-thirds majority, which guillotines more bills than not, has neglected to include any form of legislative brakes whatsoever in this amendment (even 21 days for both money and non-money bills would have been something).

    Looking at its other provisions, even the mere possibility of having two non-Dáil ministers is discarded. Personally, would have preferred a *requirement* for two non-Dáil ministers (with beefed up accountability procedures for these, perhaps separate Dáil votes to approve external ministers, and individual votes of no confidence possible in them that wouldn’t bring down the government). At least I expected the mere option would remain. Another disappointment in this bill.

    Had less expectation that article 27 would remain. Nonetheless Denmark has happily lived with an even stronger provision in its constitution for decades (http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/da00000_.html, section 42). Maybe the the threshold could have been bumped up to 2/5 of TDs. Personally, would have felt leaving this provision in would have been useful (rather hard to trigger, difficult but at least not impossible once the Seanad is gone). Would have been a useful safeguard.

    And this provision only applies to non-money bills. Would be a little dubious over the updated procedure for making this decision. The Ceann Comhairle makes the first call (as previously) and then a simple Dáil majority can override this and make the final call. Maybe not such a big issue if there’s no legislative delay mechanism that distinguishes between the two bill categories or even article 27. The President can’t refer money bills to the Supreme Court to test their constitutionality though (as article 26 makes clear). It’s not great that the Dáil would make the final call then as to whether a bill is a money bill. I suppose there’s nothing stopping an ordinary citizen later directly challenging the constitutionality of a money bill themselves at their own expense in open court. But maybe a setup that a future Dáil could abuse to limit the avenues for constitutional challenge to a controversial bill.

    And would also have preferred for irreversible exercises of some of the provisions/protocols in the EU treaties to also have been protected by super-majority (transfer to unanimous votes in a particular competence to QMV etc.).

    Opportunity lost also to reform how the Ceann Comhairle and Leas Ceann Comhairle are elected, especially given how the Deputy Chair now replaces the Chair of the Seanad on the Presidential Commission. In theory (even if not by convention) two of the three positions on the Commission can now be decided by a simple Dáil majority. Requiring a single 2/3 Dáil super-majority to approve both positions or failing that maybe a secret PR-STV ballot (with first place becoming chair and second place deputy chair, and maybe further down their deputies in turn) would IMO have been more suitable. In that context, a fairer procedure for deciding on the final money/non-money status of a bill could have been a 3-person committee composed of the Ceann Comhairle, Leas Ceann Comhairle and a supreme court judge appointed by the President (mimicking to some extent the current provision).

    And despite Enda Kenny having two years to draft this bill, not an iota of the supposed Dáil/committee reforms are in this amendment. Would have been a great opportunity to to lay out some broad new reformed committee framework in the constitution. Instead we’re promised get some changes to Dáil procedures/standing orders (if the amendment is passed), despite the fact that the the Dáil could pass these reforms next week if it actually had the mind.

    IMO there’s a great need for what the Seanad is *in theory* (“in theory” being the operative phrase here) supposed to provide. Of course, in practice, most of these protections/roles have been more fiction than reality. As I see it there are two options for genuine reform. The Seanad could simply be constitutionally reformed to make some of these powers actually functional. Alternatively, these roles/powers could be transferred to the Dáil. This abolition bill does neither. Would be relatively ambivalent on the Seanad question, and would actually vote in favour of abolition if actually done in a reforming way. But abolition as represented by this bill is merely a cynical reform-free populist stunt.

    • Two excellent comments, Finbar.
      The seeming pre-occupation of the most vocal Irish academic political scientists with elections, polls, parties and history has not served us well in creating an awareness of other forms of what the Constitution calls “organs of state”.

      Yes there are some who have published comparisons with how things are done in other democracies – large and small.

      Faced as we are with more and more centralisation of power into an institutionally corrupt central government structure, we need to to find more checks and balances to limit the scope for excess by the powerful – be they elected or appointed, public or private, local/national/transnational.

      Please continue with such postings.

      • Thanks, Donal.

        Had been quite curious as to what form the abolition amendment would take. This moment, along with the Oireachtas inquiries amendment, were most likely the two key and only opportunities in this Dáil for constitutional Oireachtas reform (both wasted ones it seems). Amendments like this are IMO excellent bellwethers for indicating the government’s true intent wrt reform. We had an Oireachtas inquiries bill that was published late, rushed through the Dáil at breakneck speed and, consequently, had little proper debate and analysis in the chamber. It’s little wonder it later fell due mainly to a dubious wording wrt the protection of fundamental rights (indicating either a somewhat authoritarian bent to the drafters of the bill or maybe just a genuine miscalculation exacerbated by an overly rushed progression through the Dáil?). Plus, as I learned during the course of that campaign, a genuinely reforming government would have included in the amendment a mechanism for the opposition (maybe via a qualified minority) to trigger and set the terms of reference for the occasional inquiry of their own. And their was very little media analysis of the inquiries bill until quite late in the campaign (and after it had long passed through the Dáil).

        There has been a remarkably similar feel to the progression of this Seanad abolition bill through the Dáil. Was only published on the 4th June and just three weeks later at 1:45pm this Tuesday it is likely to have passed all stages of the Dáil when the guillotine comes down (ok, admittedly the government did grant the bill a few more hours of Dáil time than originally planned). Almost zero useful media analysis of the actual form of the bill. There was very little time for TDs to get useful amendments in (last Monday morning was the deadline for the third stage I think). Catherine Murphy, to her credit, did manage to get some useful ones in: http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/bills/2013/6313/b6313d-dcn.pdf

        One of her suggestions is to keep article 27 but replace the requirement for a majority of Senators in a petition with the requirement for the support of at least three-quarters of local authorities (a tough hurdle). At least two TDs in the second stage debate said there should be a constitutional requirement for a two-thirds majority before guillotining is allowed (similar in spirit to what I said in one of my posts above). No amendment to this effect has been tabled though, even if the rushed passage of this bill is an excellent argument for such a provision.

        The Seanad is a general constitutional framework that previous Irish governments *could* have used to voluntarily self-regulate themselves. This type of self-restraint does actually happen sometimes in other countries. I suppose the French serve as an example in recent years where they changed their constitution and parliamentary procedures to allow each opposition party group to trigger its own parliamentary inquiry once a year.

        The Seanad as brought back in the 1937 is too weak in its own right. Its effectiveness depended on the sufferance and good will of Irish governments, which never came. But. of course, the very same point holds for any supposed future Dáil reforms. Self-regulation/voluntary checks-and-balances via committees will rely just as much on good will and sufferance. Given the history of the Seanad it’s hard for me to believe this will genuinely materialize (or our TDs will stick their heads out from hiding behind the whip).

        The actual form of this abolition amendment makes this clear. This government was unwilling to build in some modest but reasonable constraints in a hard way into the constitution (some of the checks-and-balances the Seanad was in theory supposed to represent). Therefore, I think it’s naive to believe they’ve any intention at some later point to meaningful implement them even in a soft, voluntary and self-regulatory way (though no doubt we’ll get some well-trumpeted token reform gestures).

    • One last random thought on this abolition bill. The PDs did actually, in effect, legally draft one possible way of doing abolition in the late 80s in their “Constitution for a New Republic” (still readable online here: http://irishelectionliterature.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/from-1988-the-progressive-democrats-constitution-for-a-new-republic-and-an-explanatory-memo/ ). It’s far far from overwhelming as a constitutional revamp. The abolition of the Seanad would have been its principal effect. It’s an interesting exercise to compare Enda’s abolition bill with this document.

      The current Dáil bill is superior in one respect: that supermajorities (or increased supermajorities) are required for impeachment/removal. The PD document only needed simple Dáil majorities or 2/3 for Presidential impeachment. But I’d actually prefer the PD document elsewhere on abolition (though it’s still not great on how it does abolition). It at least keeps open the optional of two non-Dáil ministers. Presidential nomination in it requires 10 TDs rather than 14 in Enda’s bill and it also proposed allowing nomination by 30,000 signatures of ordinary citizens. The PD document is cleaner in that it does away completely with the money/non-money bill distinction (the President being able to refer any bill for constitutional review). I’m a little puzzled why it remains in the current bill, given the proposed removal of article 27 or any form of legislative delay. The only remaining effect of the distinction would be the give governments the option of shielding certain bills from Presidential referral to the Supreme Court. But maybe this remaining distinction is some remnant of Enda’s original plan for his ludicrous-sounding now-torpedoed “mini-Seanad” idea? The PD document proposed to replace the Chair of the Seanad’s vacancy on the Presidential Commission with the President of the High Court (and to use the next most senior judges of those courts as their deputies). More satisfactory IMO if one is not going to reform how the Ceann and Leas Ceann Comhairle are elected.

    • Finbar, You really are a national treasure! Thanks for this analysis of the Seanad abolition Bill. Excellent, informative and thought provoking, as was your contribution to the previous referendum on Oireachtas Committees reform.

      • Veronica, thanks for the overly kind words! 🙂 Had (has) been remarkably little analysis of the actual form of the abolition amendment in the media or anywhere else for that matter. Not in the Dáil either (the third amendment and remaining stages of this bill got just one hour of debate). Most of the amendments weren’t discussed at all (Catherine Murphy got several useful ones in for the third stage in the tiny amount of time available for this to her credit, but it was obvious that even the more innocuous ones like lowering the number of TDs to nominate a Presidential candidate from 14 to 10 were going to get short shrift from the minister in the chamber, Phil Hogan, anyway, let alone the more significant ones). That session was an excellent illustration, if anyone needed it, of how marginal a role the Dáil actually has in the legislative process.

        The ill-considered Oireachtas inquiries referendum wording deserved to be defeated. In contrast, Seanad abolition feels like a nothing referendum. IMO hard (constitutionally enshrined) constraints/checks-and-balances are preferable. This could as easily come either from certain forms of abolition or constitutional Seanad reform. We’ve been presented with neither. De Valera resurrected the Seanad in the 1937 constitution in a very half-hearted way. A 3 month maximum delay is derisory (compared to a year for the House of Lords). It’s a very weak framework. Not having the 12 Taoiseach’s nominees would have helped. But, even without this, it could still have been too easily brought to heel by the Dáil. It’s electoral system is too open-ended. If the Seanad became too irritable to the Dáil, one simple stratagem would be to pass a bill to change the Seanad panel electorate to only incoming Dáil TDs (no local councilors). That would (even without 12 Taoiseach’s nominees) likely ensure a party composition almost identical to the Dáil (except for 6 university seats). Article 19 means its electoral system would be quite amenable to some Gerrymandering also. Seanad panel seats can be allocated to outside bodies, e.g. some agricultural panel seats could be allocated to the IFA or maybe SIPTU could be allocated some seats from the Labour panel. That kind of thing might actually be an improvement on what we have (but could also be open to abuse).

        In an ideal world, the relative merits of unicameral versus bicameral systems is an interesting question. But, I’d hold with Voltaire’s here “le mieux est l’ennemi du bien” (the best is the enemy of the good). I wouldn’t be greatly fussy either way; a proper setup of either type could work well. However, while the chances of us getting “the best” is remote, the probability of us even getting “the good” is still vanishingly small.

        The usefulness of the current weak Seanad constitutional framework depends almost solely on Dáil (i.e. effectively government) sufferance. In terms of checks-and-balances it has always been an optional extra. I suppose it could historically have been imaginatively used by our political classes to self-regulate themselves in a modest way. The very same goes of course goes for the soft framework of standing orders and parliamentary procedures. That has just as equally been a (very) optional extra. In some ways standing orders are even a weaker means of self-regulation. While a government can always eventually row back on and emasculate a hypothetically troublesome Seanad setup, it’d still at least be stuck with its membership up until the next general election. Standing orders can always be changed at a moment’s notice! 🙂 The UK House of Commons seems to be the most interesting chamber out of all the Westminster systems (many are tightly whipped, but Canada and Australia at least have strong devolved federal government, Australia a strong second chamber, New Zealand MMP and some interesting civil service reforms, but how the UK’s Commons actually functions is quite interesting). Its current standing orders/procedures are far more innovative (for that type of system) than anything we are likely to get here (and it still has a non-federal idiosyncratic yet meaningful second chamber). We’ve some vague talk of reformed standing orders (perhaps another reorganization of numbers/names of committees, maybe even the concession of more proportionately allocating their chairs). But I honestly doubt we’ll get greatly meaningful reform no matter what way this referendum goes. In seven decades our political class haw neglected to undertake even modest reform/make better use of the weak Seanad framework. Now they’ve declined to build even some moderate reforms into the abolition amendment itself. I can’t see meaningful Seanad reform if the amendment is defeated. But neither can I see meaningful Dáil reform (apart from some token hollow gestures) if it succeeds.

        Success or failure will probably come down to who the voters more want to give a kicking to. Perhaps it’ll be politicians in general (a yes vote). Or maybe the inclination, in particular, to give Enda Kenny and this government in particular a black eye (and suspicion of their motives) will win out. But in terms of reform unfortunately I think this will be a nothing referendum.

  3. Funding funding funding. Money is the key to the existing parties’ survival and the reason no new parties can emerge.

    Funding per member only is required. Otherwise incumbents distort the system…as they have.

  4. A new political party? On the right, on the left? No demand. In the centre? Over-crowded. Inevitably it would simply be a rag tag “none of the above” type party, perhaps with a celebrity leader. So not much basis for change and perhaps the electorate know this.

  5. Irish voters should consider a non-formal political party which could be known as NOTA (None Of The Above). This would actually entail giving voters an additional option in the vote preference listing. Voters should be allowed to include a zero in their preference listing of candidates. The zero would be for the candidate the voter most definately does not want elected. The voter could then list other candidates 1,2,3 etc as usual. When the votes are tallied the zeros would be counted at the same time as the 1s. All candidates who receive more zeros than 1s would be eliminated. The usual procedure for redistributong votes would then be conducted – if any candidates remainded. If all were eliminated a new list of different candidates would have to be prepared for review by the voters.

  6. The best FF can do now is a 50-50 coalition, on a good day. If they can even find a partner which is doubtful.

    The days of FF dominated govt are over. No doubt they’ll still linger on, like a bad smell.

  7. There is no new party because there is no demand for one.

    The election results and polls since indicate what we all know – that Ireland is essentially a deeply conservatively and slightly corrupt country. All the election did was redistribute the same conservatives votes between the same conservative parties of FG/FF & L – their combined share of the vote doesn’t change much just how it’s divided between them and FG/FF is the same party and anyone who deluded themselves that FG was somehow cut from a better ethical cloth will have had their delusions exposed since FG got back into government and got its long awaited turn to splash about in the trough of cronyism.

    But the conservatisim can be seen in how we haven’t taken to the streets over austerity and instead when given a vote on it the insiders have shafted their own children. There’s to be no debt relief, no pension cuts to the already or soon to be retired, no wage cuts for those at the top of their pay scale – all of the adjustments have been passed onto the younger than / generation.

    Passing the buck is hard wired into our DNA so we are utterly incapable of making the sacrifices that each vested interest would need to make so that the entire country was sorted out – the Irish mindset simply cannot do it and instead reverts to looking after itself. It’s the same old story and was evident all through our history in that when it comes to crunch we simply cannot step up to the plate.

    So what would a new party do? Would it have a policy to scrap pension tax relief for the middle class, even though doing so would clear our current budget deficit as we lose nearly €3billion in revenue via pension tax relief. The middle class would go into meltdown even if it was linked to qa policy to extend the State pension to everyone and make it €300 per week per person from age 70, tax free. With all other income above that taxed at a flat rate.

    Would it offer debt forgiveness to the negative equity generation and get that load off their backs so people can draw a line and make their peace with the fact their house is not an investment it’s a home and it won’t ever go up in value like before, that they might be living next door to a council tenant, and that this would mean some capitalisation of the banks again – would society accept it for the greater good even with proof that this time the money did go to write off loans and not just prop up the banks’ balance sheets.

    What would happen if it directed IDA money to domestic businesses instead so that each one of the 180k + SME’s in Ireland could employ one more full time staffer and one part timer.

    Then what if offered real and genuine political reform so that TDs wouldn’t be at the mercy of crony locals?

    Any new political party needs to understand the mentality of the Irish voters and their inherent selfishness and as we already have 3 centre right conservative parties (we need to stop the pretence that Labour is socialist or even social democrat – it isn’t) a new party needs to have the guts to confront Irish people and shock them out of their denial ie bring the argument to the pensioners who are crippling the state with their pensions that they are inflicting misery on their children and grandchildren and why won’t they accept some sacrifice for the good of the next generation. Every argument to forgo something has to be balanced by what is offered in return – more money to the banks but in return for debt relief, or no pension tax relief in return for a better State pension for everyone.

    It’s all about the yin and yang of the argument you make and the first policy offered needs to address political funding and transparency but where would you find a leader to offer that sort of moral example in a country like Ireland?

    When you trot out a list of all the supposedly good politicians – every single one of them fails the ethics and transparency test of whether they were personally enriched by a career in politics or did they forego wealth to serve their country.

    I ask anyone reading this to list out their list of the great and good ones and then ask how much money those people made from politics and identify in what way they made a sacrifice to serve their country? Remember O’Malley and Molloy ‘gave up’ their Ministerial pensions? impressive? Well not so much when you know that they did not ‘give up’ pensions they deferred them and received then backdated plus interest in a lump sum when they left office.

    Garret FitzGerald, sold his home and had no assets to pay off the bad investment he made in GPA and had IR£200k written off by AIB, which was passed onto customers. Well he did all he could and wasn’t taking back handers he just made a bad investment and you can’t pay what you haven’t got? Not so impressive that he received a TD, Minister, Taoiseach, Senator and Lecturer pension from 1987 onwards – of appox €2.3million and you’d think from all of that plus his Irish Times and lecture income he could have paid back the AIB?

    So what would a new party of the same old faces of other party’s have to offer?

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