It’s more or less gone according to plan.
Fianna Fáil and the Greens have gotten the reward they so justly deserved for their period of governance, and have been wiped out. If Dev’s party can make a comeback – and that’s a big if – they will be totally unrecognisable from the party that ruled and destroyed our country like it was their own private fiefdom.
Enda will be like the cat who got the cream, and despite his frightening limitations, it’s hard not to be just a little bit happy for him. That the system is the way it is is not his doing, but he has worked it brilliantly to maintain his leadership and win his crack at the big-time.
Sinn Féin and the rest of those on the left stand on the threshold. If Ireland is to truly become a modern democracy based on ideas, it will be their doing. Should they move too far to the left (Sinn Féin) or to the centre (Labour) they will destroy this new era before it even begins but I believe they will rise to the challenge, and that eventually Sinn Féin will most likely eclipse Labour, simply becasue they will be in opposition when the worst of the savagery is inflicted on Ireland’s poor and working class.
But the true heroes of the day are to be found among the independents like Mick Wallace, and even more so among the ones that didn’t get elected.
Whatever their political creed, they were for the most part ordinary people who decided that they could no longer sit idly by whilst their country was destroyed by those in power. These are people with mortgages and families and jobs, people with no prior knowledge of the system, who decided to take it on anyway to see how much change they could effect.
I’m sure they have found it difficult – after all, the Irish political system is specifically designed to keep people like them out, lest our democracy become representative in anything but name. They have fought bravely and generously, and given a voice to many.
The likes of Michael Loftus, Anne Cronin and Kate Bopp have sacrificed their own time and money – a lot of money – to give the electorate the broad choice that is so often lacking in Irish politics.
Together they have sent a message to whoever is elected today that, whether or not they are joined by a slew of independents in the 31st Dáil, the people are starting to find their voice. No longer will they be silenced or appeased. There is a new road to take, and it leads to Leinster House.
The counts are ongoing, but even when all the votes are counted we will not have reached the end. This is only the beginning,and whatever about the end of civil war politics, we have seen the start of something new for Ireland.
Candidates of the people, from the people and for the people. And that may well be the greatest victory of all.