Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

I’m Voting In The Irish General Election

with 3 comments

I am privileged to be a registered voter in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland.  As a Welshman I am very happy to live alongside my Celtic brothers in County Kerry and I still have a base in Dorset on the south coast of England.  I am proud to be British and although some might think in Ireland it’s a dirty word, I have never met any hostility here and it’s a fact of geography that the UK and Ireland together comprise the British Isles.

In the recent UK General Election, I voted Conservative because above all else I wanted to ‘Get Brexit Done’.  On Saturday I will be voting in Ireland and I’m deciding who to vote for.

I am a passionate Brexiteer because I consider self-determination to outweigh almost all other political considerations.  In June 2008, Ireland voted against the EU over the Lisbon Treaty but it was forced by the Eurocrats to hold a second referendum and just over a year later the Irish people were bullied into submission.  I wish that Ireland could have left the EU alongside the UK and there is a significant level of opinion here in favour of ‘Irexit’.  It would certainly have solved the problem that Brexit has caused for the border with the North.

The other solution to the border is a united Ireland and that is something I strongly support.  It’s only in the past 10 years that I have come to understand Irish history and Britain is shamed by its record of brutal oppression. I realise now that this important history is excluded from the school syllabus in the UK. Our behaviour in Ireland is one of the most dreadful episodes of history and the British were guilty of war crimes similar to Israel’s current conduct in Palestine, the Nazis in World War II and other tyrannical regimes.  If I had lived in Ireland in the 20th Century I would certainly have joined the IRA. It was a righteous and noble cause.

I know for certain that I will not vote for Fine Gael, the present party of government.  While I admire the way that it has helped Ireland become a progressive society, escaping from the evil of the Catholic Church, it describes itself as ‘the party of Europe’ and Leo Varadkar, its leader and the present Taoiseach is a gay, Asian version of Tony Blair.  I hasten to add that I have nothing against him for being gay or Asian!

I am more naturally drawn to Fianna Fail, the main opposition party that is more Ireland-centric and republican in its philosophy.  But it is very old-fashioned, embedded in the past, illiberal culture and offers little promise for the future. It strikes me that like the two main parties in the UK, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are content with the status quo where power switches back and forth between them periodically.  There’s no doubt that Ireland is ready for a change.

Ireland has a history of electing significant numbers of independent politicians and here in Kerry we are blessed with our very own independent dynasty, the Healy-Raes, an extraordinary family which can, most certainly, be described as eccentric.  We have a proportional, single-transferable vote system where voters specify candidates in order of preference by writing 1, 2, 3, etc. alongside their names. Michael Healy-Rae will definitely be near the top of my choices.

But voting for independents will not help create a new government that can move beyond the tired politics of the past.  Extraordinarily, I find myself tempted by two socialist parties: Sinn Fein and People Before Profit. Sinn Fein for its noble ideals and ambition for a united Ireland.  (The name translates as ‘We Ourselves’).  People Before Profit because I have met several of its TDs and it is strongly committed to cannabis law reform.

Also, as all democrats should be, I am disgusted by the way Fine Gael and Fianna Fail treat Sinn Fein, currently ahead of both them in the polls. They both refuse to engage at all and say they would never work with it in government.  The reason given is because of Sinn Fein’s past paramilitary connections and, as they say, that is has never properly distanced itself from violence.

I say this is preposterous, dishonest nonsense.  Firstly, it was a just war.  Of course, I deplore violence against innocent civilians but given the perspective I have recently acquired, I am ambivalent about action against security forces.  An army of occupation must expect to meet resistance.  If Fine Gael and Fianna Fail refuse to engage with a party with such massive popular support, they must reap the consequences.  How is any movement supposed to progress beyond violence to peaceful politics if it is spurned and isolated?

For me, one of the most extraordinary experiences since moving to Ireland was meeting Martin Ferris, a Sinn Fein, Kerry TD who is retiring at this election.  He was a hunger striker and starved himself for longer than some who died as a result of their protest.  In the late 70s, I was in my early 20s and I remember that my perspective on the hunger strikers was that they were fools because the British government would never give in. But now I see it very differently.  I see the huge courage and nobility in their protest.

So I shall be voting for Sinn Fein.  I’m not yet sure what number I shall put against their candidate, Pa Daly’s name but it could well be number one.  Were People Before Profit fielding a candidate in Kerry, they too woud get a vote. The elegance of the Irish voting system is that I can offer support to these socialist parties without fear.  The first past the post system in Britain really does hold us back and I hope there will be electoral reform in my lifetime.

My father would turn in his grave if he read these words.  I am surprised at myself but my mind is made up.  Of course I am only one voter amongst more than three million but I am excited about this, my first Irish election, as I believe it heralds real change.

Written by Peter Reynolds

February 7, 2020 at 8:56 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Well well peter voting for a socialist party!! I also lived in Ireland in 1979 to 1983 i remember the hunger strikes and being an english man in county Cork. I remember the strangle hold of the catholic church. Ireland has come along way. I wish them the best from this election and I hope for a united Ireland flowed by us Scotts gaining our Independence. Welcome to the world of people power politics modern socialism

    Dave Soulsby

    February 7, 2020 at 10:11 pm

  2. “I voted Conservative ” “I am a passionate Brexiteer because I consider self-determination to outweigh almost all other political considerations.”

    you have voted for a party responsible for the culling of over 130,000 humans.

    their blood is on your hands.

    you have voted for my ongoing torture, assault, fraud and attempted murder, and the ongoing torture, assault, fraud and attempted murder of millions more, and who knows how many more deaths.

    check your priorities.

    digitteknohippie

    February 9, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    • I suggest you take a step back from the hysteria and get yourself better acquainted with reality. Your words achieve nothing except to make you appear to be ridiculous.

      Peter Reynolds

      February 9, 2020 at 4:51 pm


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