Council Affairs: From both sides now

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

UPCOMING elections took an interesting turn over the past week after a resounding rejection of proposals in twin referendums that would have augmented the definition of the family and, according to some, sent mammies packing from Ireland’s 1937 constitution wholesale.

Government and opposition parties alike favoured a Yes/Yes vote on the Family and Care referendums, however the electorate came back with the highest No/No response in Irish history.

The general consensus in the wake of the result is that the government has gotten it very wrong, are out of touch with the public, and need a good dose of cop on.

In fact, it wasn’t just the average Joe Soap on the street that was making such claims. Outspoken Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie The Gunman O’Dea also saw an opportunity and went for it.

“Stop playing to the woke gallery,” came the words of wisdom for Micheál Martin from the roguish O’Dea.

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And on the same day too that the party boss was in Limerick to announce his candidate for mayoral elections. Scarlet you’d be!

The straight-shooting former Minister for Defence also took aim at his own party’s coalition partners, the Green Party, and non-governmental organisations, who he described as “out of touch”.

“Fianna Fáil needs to get back to basics and abandon the Hate Speech Bill,” Deputy O’Dea wrote on his X (formerly Twitter) account.

Instead of playing to the “woke gallery”, he called on his party leader to “focus on housing, health, and law and order”.

In fairness to him, Tánaiste Micheál Martin was having none of Willie’s old jib. He did not accept the referendum result as a direct message to government from an irate public, but did concede that they may have overestimated the support for a Yes/Yes vote.

During his walk about in Limerick with his top lieutenants, O’Dea and Niall Collins, Martin played down earlier comments from his moustached troublemaker and said he would be reflecting on the result.

Disrupting the regularly-scheduled Monday evening bush drinking along the banks of the River Shannon, Micheál and the gang brought more along for their date with the local media than the obligatory bag of cans, instead introducing new DEM candidate Dee Ryan – formerly of Limerick Chamber fame – decked in St Patrick’s Day green.

And if the poor old Tánaiste hadn’t been caused enough trouble by the patron Saint of Limerick already that week, the ghost of Christmas past was now about to bite him firmly on his Cork backside.

Ms Ryan, a former Fine Gaeler, it turns out, wasn’t always so enamoured with her new Fianna Fáil chums. It was all smiles for the cameras on Howley’s Quay last week, but hadn’t some pesky reporter gone, hidden in the ditches, and done their best to ruin the love-in by poking through her dirty old social media posts.

And what did they find? Hadn’t she only taken cheap potshots at Micheál back when she was wearing a blue shirt along with Leo Varadkar and his Kylie Minogue-loving cronies.

“Not a leader” Ms Ryan had tweeted about her new overlord back in happier times. But look, it’s a free country, at least it used to be, and we are all entitled to change our minds.  Aren’t Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael more or less the same brand anyway?

Yes, FF is more the musty side of the trademark, aimed at tricky property developers with poor memories and greasy fingers, while FG is playing more to the hipster craft beer drinking “woke gallery”.

Anyway, as luck would have it, Ms Ryan confessed that her views had “evolved” since then and that her opinion of Mr Martin and Fianna Fáil “could not be more positive”.

A real fairytale ending, you love to see it.

Also on Twitter, or X or whatever you want to call it, seeing as that was where it was all kicking off, a photo was posted of O’Dea and his right-hand man Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon right in the thick of a protest in Limerick with socialist feminist group Rosa – the very “woke gallery” that aggravates him so!

And in the spirit of picking nits, Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler also took the time to point out that the blueshirts were in no hurry to announce their DEM candidate as three of the front runners, John Moran, Helen O’Donnell, and Dee Ryan, had very strong links with the party. So there!

I wonder is it time now to start trawling through Cllr Butler’s old tweets before Fine Gael’s imminent DEM candidate announcement at the end of the month?

You really couldn’t be up to them!