Wigmore - July 1984: European elections, The Real Results
NOW that the dust has settled and the losers have been consoled and the winners are deciding what to do with all the money they can fiddle on their expenses, it's time to assess the real results of the Euro elections. The newspapers and the parties have given us the cooked version of the figures, Wigmore is as usual ready with the real story.
Fianna Fail can swagger around telling us about how they got 39% of the vote. Fine Gael can talk about 32%. Poor Labour is moaning about dropping to 8% and the Provos and the Workers' Party can argue about who got a fraction of a percentage point more than the other. Sorry folks, all those figures are rubbish. They're fine if you want to talk about the game of politics and who ended up with the most tokens when the whistle went. Here we are talking real politics. Below we give the figures for the actual amount of support each party received from the electorate. (Figures are based on first preferences and have been rounded off to avoid eyeestrain.)
Richie Ryan, for instance, topped the poll in Dublin. What percentage of the electorate came out to give Richie a mandate to go speak for them in Europe? He got one of four seats - so was it 25% Or maybe 15%, or even 10%? No, Richie got the support of 6.6% of the electorate in Dublin.
The percentages used by the parties to show that, for instance, Fine Gael got 32% of the vote are calculated from the numbers of people who actually voted. The real figure is determined by callculating from the electorate as a whole. This gives us the percenntage of the electorate which gave particular candidates or'l'parties a mandate to speak for us in Europe.
Here are the. percentages of the electorate from which each victorious candidate, North and South, won his or her support.
Ian Paisley 21.61
John Taylor 13.81
Ray McSharry 12.09
Mark Clinton 11.29
Joe McCartin 10.88
Jim Fitzsimons 10.50
Paddy Lalor 10.29
Sean Flanagan 8.68
T.J. Maher 7.97
Tom O'Donnell 7.78
Sylvie Barrett 6.89
Richie Ryan 6.66
Tom Raftery 6.40
Gene Fitzgerald 6.22
Mary Banotti 6.05
Niall Andrews 4.61
Eileen Lemass 4.44
It is worth stressing that these percentages are not of the elecctorate as a whole but of the electorate in the constituencies in which these people stood.
When the figures are totted up from the electorate as a whole we fmd that all the Fianna Fail candidates together drew the suppport of just 18.72% of the elecctorate. Fine Gael got 15.47% and Labour (God bless them) 3.92%. The Provos got 2.26% and the Workers' Party 1.95%.
From these figures it can be seen that the only MEP who can claim to speak for more than a fifth of his or her electorate is Ian Paisley. Only another seven can claim to have won the suppport of more than a tenth of their electorates.
So, the next time these spoofers start going on about their mandate from the people we can tell them where to get off. For every 4% Dublin people who want Eileen Lemass in Strasbourg 95% couldn't be bothered.
DENNIS DENNEHY died in Dublin on June 14 of cancer. He was 45. There are many in Dublin whose first political memory is of marching through the city calling for the release of Dennis Dennehy when he was imprisoned durring the campaign for housing in the late Sixties. Dennis's political life embraced many campaigns and even those who disagreed with him on one issue or another knew him as a tolerant humorous, capable and dedicated man. His funeral was attended by all strands of radical opinion - with all of whom Dennis had at one time or another campaigned, without ever compromising his own firmly held beliefs.
Before the cremation at the church in Glasnevin cemetary Eric Fleming, ITGWU official and a comrade of Dennis, played and sang the ballad of Joe Hill. One of Dennis's closest friends and political associates, Pat Murphy, delivered a tribute in which he summed up the over twenty years in which Dennis was "continuoussly engaged in one campaign or agitation after another, seeking reedress of grievances and justice for ordinary people."
Dennis emigrated to England in the early Sixties and was active in CND and in emigre politics. On his return to Ireland in the mid Sixties he became involved in the campaign of the Dublin Housing Action Committee. It was his idea to squat the homeless in habitable properties which were due to be redeveloped by speculators. He was one of the first to squat and was jailed when he defied a High Court order to get out. In the Seventies he joined the B&ICO and supported the right of Protestants to live in the state of their choosing, oppoosing the Republic's claim on the
North. He was active in the ITGWU and supported the New Liberty campaign for democracy in that union. In his final years he was a founder member of DAD and the Family Law Reform Group. At the time of his death he was awaiting judgement on his High Court case brought against the Minister for Social Welfare for his refusal to pay an allowance to deserted husbands, the first case of its kind. Pat Murphy said:
"It was said of Dennis tha t innstinctively he was an anarchist but intellectually a communist. It was the tension between the two which gave him his motivaation. It was certainly reflected in his 'wide choice of friends, of every persuasion and none. It was also manifested in an uneasiness with the more materialistic side of life and with personal ambition in union and political activists."
• • • •
Dennis was a CIE bus driver. Shortly before he died, after being out sick for months, he received a redunndancy notice from ClE. Simiilar insensitivity was recently displayed towards another dying busworker, but in that case the redundancy notice was seen and stopped at the last moment by a: garage supervisor.
Dennis's High Court case had dragged on interminably, as these things do. Knowing he was dying, he wrote to the judge, explained his predica-: ment and asked if things could be speeded up a little. He received the reply that his letter had been most "immproper". The humour and irony of such situations was never lost on Dennis, who spent his life being quite properly improper. He will be missed.
EILEEN LEMASS has run some strange campaigns in her time. She once fought a by-election on the basis that she needed the job. This novel approach to unemployyment didn't win the support of the electorate - perhaps the thought of over 200,000 TDs was difficult to stomach.
Her Euro campaign was perrsonalised, ignoring her Fianna Fail running mates. It also contained some strange promises.
On the day after the Euro count she was quoted by the Herald as saying that she would give "some" of her Dail salary to charity. Not good enough. The leaflet above, personally handed out to the press by Lemass, proomised that she would dispose of all of her Dail salary. Half to charity, half to employing someeone in her constituency.
Let's have no backsliding. We will want to see the receipts.
THOSE politicians who defend the scandalous levels of pay which they - and the MEPs in partiicular - get might like to explain how one politician can afford to offer to give away sixteen grand as a pre-election gimmick.
AS we go to press we hear on the grapevine that the latest issue of In Dublin will feature Dick Spring writing about Bob Dylan. Could this perhaps start a trend? Might we be deluged with famous people writing about famous people? What other unlikely coupplings may be in store?
Charlie Haughey on Frank Sinatra?
Garret FitzGerald on Buddy Holly?
Sean Mcbride on Lily langtry? Paddy Hillery on Arnold
John Feeney on Pinnochio? Eamon Dunphy on Bottler? Bruce Arnold on Margaret
Alan Dukes on a slow boat to China ....
Down Memory Lane
WE'RE not supposed to draw attention to this kind of thing these days, but sure what matter. Last month Bishop Newman of Limerick, a Jereemiah if ever there was one, made a speech to a bunch of kids. In the speech he took a swipe at the liberal clergy who have recently been poking their noses out. He told the children that such Catholics "foul their own nest". He added, "Let not those who ignore the teaching of the Pope and the Bishops think that they are anything other than Protestants". Oy vey.
Those children wondering about the function of the Holy Spirit were left in no doubt. "He (sic) is there to help Catholic school boards assume their full responsibility by seeing to it that their schools are truly Catholic and who will allow nobody, but nobody, to take those schools away from them."
His Grace closed with some political advice. He told the children to keep an eye on their politicians and not to support any who strayed from the precepts he was outtlining. Isn't it great to be back in the Fifties?