Sinn Féin would not repeat its result of winning 37 seats if a General Election was to be re-held in 2020, a Clare TD has stated.
Life as a TD has been “the strangest start to a new job” for Cathal Crowe (FF). He and Violet-Anne Wynne (SF) were elected to Dáil Éireann for the first time two months ago when the people of Clare went to the polls for the General Election.
Crowe’s well documented stance on RIC commemorations in advance of the General Election resulted in him receiving more national coverage than any of the candidates in the field. Reflecting on his decision to boycott the planned event which ultimately led to its cancellation, he admitted it boosted his profile but he disagreed that it also aided Sinn Féin’s challenge. “I don’t think it did me harm electorally, Sinn Féin have to go out and put out their manifesto, Violet-Anne was their candidate in the county and she polled very well, I mean this respectfully she polled higher than everyone expected and it was a surprising result but one we respect and acknowledge”.
“Politics can be quite fickle, something that happens on Monday evolves by the week and by Sunday it can give you a boost in the opinion poll. What people in Clare wanted nationally, they wanted to give a message to the outgoing Government and they did, throughout the country Sinn Féin had a surge vote, I don’t necessarily believe that would be replicated if we had another election next week or next month, I could be proven wrong and if I am I’ll hold my hands up in that regard. If we had an election in Clare in a few months time, you’re not guaranteed to get the same outcomes, I certainly didn’t do anything to help Sinn Féin’s cause, anything they or another party do they own that for themselves”.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, the Meelick native admitted that he has requested to be involved with the organising of commemorations during the decade of centenaries when the Government resumes normal business. “I don’t expect they will put me into cabinet in my first few weeks as a TD so I’m not expecting to be leading out a Department”. He also plans to start blogging from Leinster House on the history of the Kildare St building.
His views on the taking place of the Leaving Certificate has changed within the past week. “I had a very hardline position on it, I felt that the Leaving Cert has to happen, it happens every year and I don’t remember a year when we didn’t have the Leaving Cert. Third level colleges demand a benchmark of attainment, you need to reach a certain standard to get into third level, there is all of that and the preparation that goes into the two year Leaving Cert cycle which would be a waste to throw away.
“But today (Monday), I had a few calls and emails from students and teachers who say that if they end up with an August Leaving Cert it becomes a twelve month academic year, there is huge mental strain on these youngsters to try keep a peak performance academically to get to that level and very hard to maintain it and then there isn’t any certainty it would happen in July or August”. One constituent has spoke to the former Mayor of Clare of her intention to raise money through summer employment to bring her through her first year of college.
He explained, “The right decision when we get to the first week of May would be to evaluate what is ahead of us at that point. It may have to come down to cancelling the Leaving Cert, look at aggregating the scores from the mock Leaving Cert and Christmas Exams. If the curve continues to flatten and we’re getting down to a low level of contagion then they need to set in stone so far as is possible that we will have a Leaving Cert. The students want certainty, I saw the poll conducted in St Caimins School, the uncertainty is killing them at the moment. When we get to early May, the Minister needs to call it at that point”.
A former primary school teacher at Parteen NS, he believed that while the new way of teaching during COVID-19 has its challenges, it paled in significance to the difficulties of other tasks. “Teachers are doing a good job but they have it a hell of lot easier than someone going out there and into our hospitals putting down twelve hour shifts. As Minister Harris reflected on the other night, there are so many people in our economy, the work they are doing is even more valued than ever, the hauliers, the trucks pulling up into Tesco or Aldi at night time offloading the groceries, primary food producers, our farmers and I hope they will be valued far more when we come out of this process.
“It’s not just the frontline people, so many people are doing really difficult work, they have kids locked in the other side of a door or put out in the garden. People have had to modify how they live, I would rather see thousands of people metaphorically die of boredom than to see a few dozen people die of respiratory failure”.
At a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party at the end of March, Crowe called on Micheál Martin to form a national Government as opposed to a coalition with Fine Gael. The teleconference meeting reminded him of Callan’s Kicks but said he has faith in the party’s negotiating team who are now trying to form a Government with Fine Gael and others.
Such a historic move has angered some of the party’s members in Clare. “I’m not going to say that everything is hunky dory because it isn’t. It would be a seismic change for Fianna Fáil to go into Government with Fine Gael”. He has held Zoom meetings with the party membership in the county and local councillors. During these discussions, viewpoints emerged from those rightly opposed to entering into partnership with Fine Gael, those that want a Government with the smaller parties and those that wish to see the current situation evolve. A rotating Taoiseach “can work” he felt and maintained that Ireland will end up with “a good Taoiseach”.
Party leader Micheál Martin who is the only Fianna Fáil leader not to have been Taoiseach is not putting himself before their best interests by the possibility of entering into coalition with Fine Gael. “I know from chats with Micheal Martin in the last few days that Micheal Martin and Fianna Fáil are putting the country before anything else. There has been plenty of analysis of this in the media, going into Government with your largest rival or talking about that process it’s somewhat politically damaging and I think most analysts can see that.
“If we had this conversation a week ago or a second conversation in a week’s time, there could be total different outcomes to this again. If nothing else this process needs to evolve, the 24 page document is detailed and vague depending on which page you turn. Members of political parties will ultimately have a really detailed document, it is one in which the people of Ireland are in no way politically affiliated to, there are citizens of Ireland who couldn’t care less who is governing as long as there is a solid Government”.