There were three big stories this weekend. The Green Wave, the collapse of the Sinn Fein vote and the emergence locally of Cllr. Mary Linehan Foley as a political force in Cork East
Having been punished by the electorate and all but obliterated from Irish politics after the 2008 economic crash, The Green Party is riding the wave of climate change politics and the emboldened youth vote embracing this issue. The Green Party vote is up over 4% since 2014 and they have secured 41 council seats at present.
Meanwhile the Sinn Fein vote has collapsed across the country, dropping by 6% since 2014, as indeed has support for the left, mainly based in Dublin. A Sinn Fein spokesperson this morning blamed the collapse on their core working class vote not turning out. This seems somewhat disingenuous towards the electorate given the rise in support for The Green Party. Nationally they may also lose in the EU Parliament Election.
Had local elections been held six months ago the story may have been very different. Bearing in mind that the vast majority of younger voters were born after The Good Friday Agreement, they have no memory of The Troubles or the history of Sinn Fein. The recent global awareness of ocean plastic and single us plastic have become a huge issue for these voters, who will have to live with the consequences of climate change. Many of these voters, having displayed their social democratic views in previous referenda, were leaning toward Sinn Fein and parties on the left until plastic waste became top of the Green Agenda recently. They appear to have changed their allegiance from Sinn Fein to The Green Party.
Cllr Mary Linehan Foley was not just elected, she blew the competition out of the water. She topped the poll, more than doubled her vote and had the highest vote of any Independent in the country. The future looks rosy for Mary. Fianna Fail have been knocking on her door again but she assured CRY104FM this afternoon that she would not betray her Independent support base and rejoin the party. This, coupled with Taoiseach Leo Varadker admitting this evening that a general election could be held sooner rather than later, as there are 5/6 bi-elections pending, would suggest that there is a distinct possibility that Dail Eireann now looks a realistic prospect for her.