Getting Shirty

The results of the general election are now through and one way to read the outcome is a triumph for the shirts. The Blue shirts are in power and the Green shirts are planted on the opposition benches. Either, given half a chance, would goose step their way up O Connell Street in the morning arm in arm with the IMF to the tune of Take it Down From the Mast ...

Fine Gael would do it because it’s in their nature, Sinn Fein because the aphrodisiac of office has seduced many an erstwhile rascal.

Last Friday I made what was essentially a wasted journey to the polling station. I voted Labour 1 and 2 in a forlorn but delusional hope that there might be the tiniest possibility of something different; that the party, armed with the full awareness of the dire consequences inherent in becoming a bum wipe for Fine Gael, might just muster enough self-respect and consider leading the opposition. That way Labour could have laid the ground for a radical departure at the next general election. I instinctively knew it was wasted but there was nobody that I could see from the Left that was standing in this constituency so wistfully I parted with my vote.

Now all I have achieved is to have helped in putting the shower of wasters on the brink of joining with the Blue shirts in coalition. Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party described Gilmore’s Coalition ambitions as a betrayal of those who voted Labour. He is only partly right. I have a different take, thinking I betrayed my vote by ever having gave it to Labour to begin with. Even the pint of delicious cider in the local pub on the way back to our home proved unable to quell the bad taste in my mouth over voting them.

The damage done, having handed out my first two preferences, I then moved to tick the independents all the way down, even giving the Greens the 11th preference. For sure, they were diabolical, having fellated Fianna Fail for the past four years. Giving them 11th was like the halfpenny courts have been known to award scoundrels for damage to their reputation. Neither Fianna Fail nor the shirts got anything; blue or green, the hue didn’t matter. There was no preference going in that direction. I could never bring myself to vote Fine Gael and I can plead innocent to any charge of ever having voted for Adams. There was no inclination to break with a good habit.

In the end, for me it was lose all round. I felt like the punter on a bad day to the races. It just wasn’t my election. The only Sinn Fein person I genuinely wanted to see elected, Eoin O Broin, failed to make the cut in Dublin Mid West. In my view he was worthy of a number one preference despite the party he belongs to being a waste of space. He has long struck me as someone more committed to people than party. When I shared a panel with him recently in Belfast I felt he made more sense than anybody else in the hall. To boot, he might have proven a weighty foil against almost certain future attempts by his party leader to push Sinn Fein ever further to the right.

His party’s performance left me somewhat surprised. While I did not expect them to lift so many seats, it seemed certain that their percentage of the vote would rise by more than the hardly meteoric 3 % that it did. Mixed fortunes.

For all the difference it makes. Blue shirts, Green shirts and a hair shirt economic future. Nothing much to celebrate here.


  1. On a dreary, dull, wet, morale-attacking November afternoon, when one's stomach is empty, and when the monotony begins to depress and demoralise, it is soothing in many aspects to spend a half an hour with one's head pressed against the concrete slabs, gazing in wonder, and taking in the antics of a dozen or so young starlings bickering over a few stale crusts of bread. Circling, swooping, sizing up and daring an extra nibble, continually on their guard, and all their tiny nerves on end, the young starlings feud among themselves, the greedy one continually trying to dominate and always wanting the whole haul to himself, fighting with his comrades whilst the sparrow sneaks in to nibble at the spoils.
    But the ruler of the kingdom of my little twenty-yard arched view of the outside world, is the seagull, who dominates, steals, pecks, and denies the smaller birds their share. The seagull takes it all. In fact, his appetite seems insatiable. He goes to any length to gorge himself. Thus I dislike the seagull, and I often wonder why the starlings do not direct their attention to the predator, rather than each other. Perhaps this applies to more than birds.

    Bobby Sands (The Window of My Mind)

  2. Mackers you never fail to surprise me. A vote for Labour to form a government with the blueshirts.

    What possessed you? When the axe falls on the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society how will you reconcile this? Better to have spoiled your vote on the basis there was nothing on offer with voting for.

  3. Elvis Costello's 'Green Shirt' resurfaced in my mind as I read this entry: 'you tease, you flirt, you shine all the buttons on your green shirt; you can tease yourself but somebody's gonna get it--better cut off all identifying labels, before they put you on the torture table'...

  4. Alec,

    'A vote for Labour to form a government with the blueshirts.

    What possessed you? When the axe falls on the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society how will you reconcile this?'

    If you read the article in full you should easily see that there is no attempt to reconcile. But I will do a piece about it at the weekend and hang it on your critique.

  5. Mark,

    you obviously have a different experience of him. And we can only go on our experiences. Even during the height of the ostracism he never engaged in it and was always courteous to me. I hope you are wrong about him.

  6. Mark,

    I accept that. I am relieved you clarified it as I firmly believe he is legit. I think Adams will be delighted he missed the seat.

  7. AM- wear your red shirt with pride

    Labour have not got the guts to fight the cuts
    they will now cosy up with
    fine non gael and leave the fight-back up to Sinn Finn

    This is the place for Sinn Fein
    at the front

  8. Michaelhenry,

    I hope SF don't fight the cuts the same way they fought them in the North. Anyway, my only red shirt is a Liverpool one.

  9. Classic retort Anthony! The only red shirt I have is from the wee reds of North Belfast

  10. AM-

    This is no excuse- but

    Stormont now is a collective of the
    people's representative's
    there is no opposition

    The u.u.p and the stoops will not
    leave the executive before the election or after the election
    [ well if they don't get enough votes then it can't be helped ]

    Labour and liverpool like their red shirts- the yanks and nazi's had an old saying- better dead than red- while liverpool will live on this time next year most will want to see the labour party dead.

  11. Michaelhenry,

    there we have it. No opposition to British rule at Stormont! They have been telling you that here for aeons now.

  12. only rubbing it in , Marckers

  13. Alec

    anybody who votes Labour deserves to have it rubbed well in. I think there is a discussion to be had around it because to vote Labour I had to hold my nose. The easy and probably best argument is don't vote them at all. I have no attachment to them whatsoever so I think a piece on it might tease out some ideas.