Irish politics is now at a crossroads. Each of the party leaders must now decided if they plan to stay until the next election or hand the torch over to their successor. Each party has their own problems with this process. The current largest party of the Dail faces the problem that the incumbent, Enda Kenny, will be unable to install his successor before he calls a general election.
RTÉ's General Election Televised will air tonight live from Limerick, the first time a leaders debate has been held outside of the Capital City. The second debate of the election with just 1 more to follow. The next will be on RTÉ One live from Dublin, as the proposed TG4 debate has been called off. Seven parties are due to debate, with The Green Party excluded following a short legal battle earlier today. The parties will debate their policies for the next 5 years and in some cases beyond. Labour just launched its manifesto, and the current polls show Fine Gael at 28%, Labour at 8%, Fianna Fail at 18%, Sinn Fein at 20%, Social Democrats on 4%, AAA-PBP 3%, The Green Party at 2%, Renua at 1% and Independents at 16%.
TV3 are first with the General Election Televised debates. This is the first debate of the election with 3 more to follow. The next will be on RTÉ One live from Limerick, followed by TG4 and then the final show down on RTÉ One. The main parties debate their policies for the next 5 years and in some cases beyond. Fianna Fail just launched its manifesto, and Paddy Power had the first Election Campaign Poll. Showing Fine Gael at 30%, Labour at 8%, Fianna Fail at 18%, Sinn Fein at 17% Other Parties at 9% and Independents at 16%. The Debate will broadcast live on TV3 and Newstalk from the Virgin Media's HD Studio's in Dublin at 9pm.
General Election 2016 is officially underway, even if an official date has yet to be announced. Posters are going up in constituencies and the media are talking coalitions. Which parties will other parties do business with and even which independent TD will they do a deal with? What are their red line issues, which must be implemented over the lifetime of the next government? Largely few are willing to discuss the make-up of the opposition benches.
I have only met Pat Rabbitte, former Labour Party Leader, once. First impressions last as they say. I found him to be rude and powerless, this was at the height of his career as Minister for Communications. I decided to rush down to Cork to go to RTÉ's 50th celebrations at UCC. It was made up of the usual heads and a few of the public. Actually having it in Cork meant that much of the Dublin media were absent, meaning a slightly better conversation about Broadcasting in Ireland.
An Tainiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs has announced his resignation as the leader of the Labour Party. This comes after a major drop in support for Labour at the Local and European Elections. He stated at a press conference today that a new leader will be able to renew the Labour Party, he told reporters that in 2011 he and his party took the difficult decision to enter government at a time of great economic pressure. He said he believes that Labour delivered on many of the issues that they had brought to government, however he also stated that the Elections had sent a clear message to the government parties. He will remain on as Leader of the party until the new Leader is elected and will remain as Tainiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs until a decision is made between An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the new leader of the Labour Party.
There are 3 electoral areas in Louth. Each will elect 6 councillors, Ballymahon, Granard and Longford.
There are four electoral areas in Louth. Ardee and Dundalk-Carlingford will elect six councillors each, Drogheada will elect ten and Dundalk-South will elect seven.
There are 6 electoral areas in Limerick. Limerick City East, North and West with 8, 6 and 7 seats respectively. Adare-Rathkeale and Newcastle West each have 6 seats, while Cappamore-Kilmallock has 7 seats.
There are 3 electoral areas in Laois. Borris in Ossory-Mountymellick and Graiguegullen-Portarlington both have six seats, while Portlaoise has seven.
There are 3 electoral areas in Leitrim. Ballinamore, Carrick-on-Shannon and Manorhamilton each elect 6 councilors to Leitrim County Council.
There are 4 electoral areas in Kilkenny. Castlecomer (6 Seats), Kilkenny City-East (6 Seats), Kilkenny City-West (6 Seats) and Piltown (6 Seats).
There are 5 electoral areas in Kildare. Athy (6 Seats), Celbridge-Leixlip (7 Seats), Maynooth (9 Seats), Kildare-Newbridge (9 Seats) and Naas (9 Seats)
There are 4 electoral areas in Kerry. Killarney (8 Seats), Listowel (7 Seats), South and West Kerry (9 Seats) and Tralee (9 Seats)
There are 3 electoral areas in Galway County. Athenry-Oranmore (7 Seats), Ballinasloe (6 Seats), Conamara (9 Seats), Loughrea (8 Seats) and Tuam (9 Seats).
There are 3 electoral areas in Galway City. Galway city central (6 Seats), Galway City East (6 Seats) and Galway City West (6 Seats).
There are 6 electoral areas in South County Dublin. Clondalkin (8 Seats), Lucan (8 Seats), Tallaght Central (6 Seats), Tallaght South (6 Seats), Templeogue Terenure (6 Seats) and Rathfarnham (6 Seats).
There are 5 electoral areas in Fingal. Balbriggan (8 Seats), Castleknock (7 Seats), Howth-Malahide (8 Seats), Mulhuddart (8 Seats) and Swords (9 Seats)
There are 9 electoral areas in Donegal.Ballyfermot-Drimnagh (6 Seats), Ballymum (7 Seats), Beaumont-Donaghmede (9 Seats), Cabra-Finglas (7 Seats), Clontarf (6 Seats), Crumlin-Kimmage (6 Seats), North Inner City (8 Seats), Pembroke-South Dock (8 Seats) and Rathgar-Rathmines (6 Seats).
There are 5 electoral areas in Donegal. Donegal (6 seats), Glenties (6 Seats), Letterkenny (9 Seats), Inishowen (10 Seats) and Stranorlar (6 Seats).
There are 7 electoral areas in Cork City. Cork City North Central (5 seats), Cork City North East (4 Seats), Cork City North West (4 Seats), Cork City South Central (5 Seats), Cork City South East (7 Seats) and Cork City South West (6 Seats).
There are 9 electoral areas in Cork. Ballincollig-Carrigaline (10 seats), Bandon-Kinsale (6 Seats), Blarney-Macrooom (6 Seats), Cobh (7 Seats), East Cork (6 Seats), Fermoy (6 Seats), Kanturk-Mallow (6 Seats) and West Cork (8 Seats).
There are 3 electoral areas in Cavan. Bailieborough-Cootehill, Ballyjamesduff and Cavan-Belturbert will each elect 6 members to the County Council.
There are 2 electoral areas in Carlow. Carlow will elect 10 members to the County Council, while the remaining 8 members will come from the Muinebeag electoral area.
The local elections are to take place on 23th May 2014. The stakes are high for the government as they try to hold their own in a mid-term election. The latest polls show the government parties with 33% support (Fine Gael 25% and Labour 8%). Fianna Fáil have yet to continue with growth of the party since its downfall in the last general election, their support has risen to 25% since that election but it has since plateaued. Sinn Féin have seen continued growth with 21% in the last poll, but that support also seems to be plateauing. The last Local Elections in 2009 saw Fine Gael with 34% support, Labour with 14%, Fianna Fáil with 25% and Sinn Féin with 8% of the vote.
The Coalition Parties (Fine Gael and Labour) have seen their support increase in the latest poll carried out by Ipsos/MRBI for The Irish Times. The poll shows Fine Gael up 4% to 30% with their coalition partners Labour up 3% to 9%. The main opposition parties have seen little or no change to their support. Fianna Fáil remains at 22%, while Sinn Féin are down 2% to 21%. Support for independents is down 5% to 18%.