If the local race is an exercise in “What do councillors actually do?” then the decision to select MEP’s is even worse.
Let’s be honest with ourselves: the vast majority of Irish people don’t have a firm idea on the specifics of what MEP’s actually attempt to carry out in Europe. If those reading this post are truthful, they will not be able to say what Lynn Boylan’s last meaningful contribution to European Parliamentary debate was, or how Luke “Ming” Flanagan voted on last February’s Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Côte d’Ivoire. Instead, we tend to vote for MEP’s on the basis of national issues – party affiliation especially, but not exclusively – and on their general opinion of a few pan-European issues, which in this cycle can be set down as Brexit, immigration and environmentalism, along with EU militarism and fisheries if you’re so inclined.
Adding to this cloudy manner of selecting a European Parliamentary representative is the sheer number of candidates on offer in my Dublin constituency – 19 in all, making the vote almost Seanad-like – and the unfortunate fact that, dependent on how things turn out in the UK, we may be selecting either three or four MEP’s. I’ll be making my choices on the basis of there being four at some point, and on the following issues, in no particular order:
But of course. How will prospective MEP’s approach the topic, how will they fight for Ireland on the same, what do they envision for a post-Brexit UK-European relationship?
I’m not talking just pro or anti, because there is room for middle ground here, and those candidates willing to offer themselves as champions for that middle ground are ones I will be impressed by.
-EU Foreign Relations
Specifically with the orange bully but also Russia and China in terms of trade agreements/wars.
Syria, Palestine, North Africa, Ukraine: what is their opinion on the EU as a peacekeeper, or enforcer?
The old reliable. I’m looking for concrete, realistic proposals to make the EU a better organisation for its citizens.
-General political outlook
No racist, fascist or otherwise bigoted applicants need apply for my vote.
Sorry Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, you’ll be down the list.
It counts for even more in this kind of environment.
The four I will be voting for, and in this order, are:
Ciaran Cuffe (Greens)
Cuffe has some historical baggage from his Dail tenure, but we need more outwardly committed green voices on every political level. He has some good ideas for housing based on models in other European cities, and I like his non-adversarial approach to BusConnects.
Cllr Gary Gannon (Social Democrats)
As stated before, I like the Social Democrat platform, even if Gannon’s candidacy appears to have showcased some internal divides in that party. Europe could do with some more sensible centre-left voices.
Senator Alice Mary Higgins (Independent)
She’s done alright in the Seanad, and is probably wasted in that talking shop. She has an obviously attractive policy based on progressive equality based values, and even though she has those ties to Labour, a non-party MEP wouldn’t be the worst idea.
Mark Mally (Independent)
Honestly struggling to find an acceptable candidate in the rest of the field, but I’ll go for Mally, a noted humanitarian, as the best of the rest.
There are some OK candidates in the rest of the field, but none I would rate as highly. The Solidarity-PBP candidates, Rita Harrold and Gillian Brien, maintain a needlessly belligerent tone towards the institution they are seeking to be elected to and engage in typical fantasy economics; Fianna Fail’s Barry Andrews doesn’t interest me at all; Sinn Fein’s Lynn Boylan might get a #5 from me but no higher; Clare Daly I like on some levels, as she greatly assisted a work colleague of mine on a legal issue recently, but I dislike her on others such as vaccinations and her association with tax crook Mick Wallace; the Fine Gael candidates are Frances Fitzgerald who doesn’t deserve the post and Mark Durkan who already looks like a busted flush; Ben Gilroy remains dangerously unqualified for any political office; Hermann Kelly is an unapologetic racist leading an already failed political party; Tony Bosco Louth seems like a nice guy, but is not terribly impressive; Aisling McNiffe is similar, but seems very single-issue focused, and would be better served with a national run; Eamonn Murphy’s flyer threatened my immortal soul if I didn’t vote for him; Gemma O’Doherty is a laughable conspiracy theorist; Workers Party candidate Eilis Ryan is a bit too anti-EU in her documents for my liking; and, lastly, Alex White is the epitome of the bland EU candidate, being put up for no other reason than Labour need to make a show.
As for who I think will get elected, will that’s a bit tricky to call. You would say Lynn Boylan, but all the other left candidates will siphon away her vote a bit. I would still favour her to get into the top three though. Andrews will probably join her I suppose. Fine Gael may still have enough of a vote in the capital to get Fitzgerald over the line. Fighting it out for the phantom fourth seat will probably be Daly, Higgins, Cuffe and maybe Gannon, White or Durkan if they overperform on the first ballot.
Up next, my thoughts on the referendum.