Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I Like To Wear Blue Shirts, But I Don't Know If I Could Vote For One

For those of you not familiar with the term “Blueshirts” it is the nickname given to the larger of the outgoing government parties, Fine Gael.

The “Blueshirt” label originally belonged to the Army Comrades Association (ACA), an organisation that modelled itself on the various Fascist movements that were popular throughout Europe in the 1930’s such as Mussolini’s Blackshirts and Hitler’s Brownshirts; many in its ranks would go on to fight for Franco in during the Spanish civil war in 1936.

The ACA renamed itself the National Guard and merged with the partitionist pro-treaty party Cumann na nGaedheal in 1933 to form Fine Gael - the nickname has stuck since.

Since its foundation, Fine Gael has never been in government without a coalition partner and the party has only been returned to government for a second term on one occasion (1981–82; 1982–87) and that 6-years in government was its longest stint ever.

Our two incumbent Blueshirts for Limerick City are Michael Noonan TD (left & back) and Kieran O’Donnell TD (front & right).

Noonan was first elected in 1981 and has been re-elected ever since, often on the first count and sometimes topping the poll; he has held various positions within the party, including Leader and he has served in a variety of offices wile in government, his current one being Minister for Finance.

Now, it’s not just Noonan’s good-looks and high profile that gets him elected every time, he is actually a solid worker and his constituency office is a tight ship. He does not ignore correspondence and will always make representations on behalf of constituents when requested to. I can honestly say that most of the replies that my residents’ association got from the Office of Regeneration in the past few years were because of his representations.

I will be voting for Noonan, but he won’t be getting my number 1 (not that he will need it). 

I like to give every candidate a preference and while I'm grateful for the representations on behalf of my community, I am not happy with the government’s overall performance. Limerick Regeneration and water meters are top of my grievances, so I think I might give him my No. 5 or 6, I'll decide on the day.

O’Donnell was first elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011, but this time round he will need every vote he can get to keep his seat. I think that the poster of him with Noonan in the background is his attempt to piggyback on Noonan’s reputation. I have not seen any posters of Noonan with O'Donnell behind him and there seem to be very few posters of O'Donnell on his own.

During my time as PRO with the Ballinacurra Weston Residents’ Alliance I gave O’Donnell a tour of the “regeneration” part of Weston in 2012 and here’s the video to prove it.

Many of the issues that were raised with O’Donnell have since been resolved (no thanks to anything he did I can assure you) and others are still outstanding – no community participation, plenty of anti-social behaviour and the CCTV cameras are still not monitored, although it was announced recently in the Limerick Leader that they would be soon (I wonder if there is an election coming up). I think I’ll give O’Donnell my No. 10.

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