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EPG
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« on: November 09, 2014, 12:02:52 pm »
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If this thread has ever existed before, it's really old, so here is a new one.

Old maps:
2011 general election tallies in Longford-Westmeath
2011 general election tallies in Dublin West
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EPG
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« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2014, 01:37:51 pm »
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Local elections are useful as the lowest-level official Irish electoral data. General election tallies exist, but they are unofficial, incomplete and difficult to map. I have local election maps from 1999 onwards; I'd like to show older results from further back, but I haven't built the shapefiles yet. Fortunately, 1999 can be considered representative of the old party system that prevailed after the 1981 elections.

After the state's initial decade of instability, 1933 to 1977 was "Fianna Fáil v everyone else". Small parties, if they even got elected, played a minor role as varieties of labour, republican or agrarian opposition to De Valera and FF. Anti-FF coalitions necessarily had to unite almost every other faction in the Dáil.

Subsequently, more stable small parties appeared and more transigent positions were adopted. The Workers' Party supported Haughey's first minority government in 1981, belying the more familiar perception of WP as unthinkingly anti-republican; Fine Gael and the PDs supported the second in 1987; FF coalesced with the PDs in 1989 and 1997, Labour in 1992 and the Greens in 2007. Therefore, 1999 fell in an unusually pluralistic period of Irish politics, wherein the party system looked almost Continental European.

The most important facts about Irish politics since 1999 have been the decline of Fianna Fáil and the rise of Sinn Féin. The map above illustrates that at local level, this rise occurred at the 2004 and 2014 elections, whereas 2009 was a flat year of rural growth and urban decline, similar to the 2007 general election. Furthermore, they didn't stand in many more LEAs in 2009, whereas they did in their growth years. Their share of the national vote more than doubled from 3.5% (1999) to 8.0%, falling to 7.4% and finally doubling again to 15.2% (2014). This confirms the polling evidence that suggests SF gained almost all its new support during the three-year troika period that began in late 2010, while FF started to decline in autumn 2008. Most of these local elections are lagging the performance of Sinn Féin at the preceding general election, but 2014 is generally interpreted as a leading indicator of even greater strength in the future.

In 1999, Sinn Féin was limited to compact areas of the south, most obviously the border region, home to its only TD at the time. Only in Monaghan County Council were they a significant presence. In Donegal, SF was hindered by the unusual strength of three groups relative to the other border counties: Labour (thanks to the merger with Democratic Left, which had a Donegal organisation), Independent Fianna Fáil (republican defectors from FF) and other independents. SF also did well in north Kerry and west Dublin, which yielded TDs at the 2002 general election. They also did well in the west of Cork City and Navan, Co. Meath. In much of the rest of the country, they did not yet nominate candidates.

2004 and 2009 are so similar that they can best be considered as a pair. 2004 was characterised by gains correlated with local strength. Sinn Féin became the dominant party on Monaghan County Council and a major force on Dublin and Waterford City Councils. They did serious damage to Labour and Independents in Donegal, making it a more "normal" border county. In Dublin, SF support adopted its characteristic diagonal look by winning established low-income areas of the county, from Tallaght in the south-west, through Ballyfermot and Finglas in the city, to the north-eastern council estates. They still stood no candidates in many rural LEAs. In 2009, they typically lost votes where they were strongest (above 8% in 2004) and gained votes elsewhere. This was particularly true in urban areas like Dublin, Galway and Waterford City Councils, and South Dublin County Council (they had lost a seat here in 2007).

2014 was a year of major Sinn Féin gains at the expense of the Labour Party, but also of their coalition partner, Fine Gael. The former is clear from major gains in urban areas, with Sinn Féin now the strongest party in Dublin City and South Dublin, as well as the former Waterford City area, albeit dwarfed by independents there. The gains from Fine Gael are clearest in their new stronghold of rural Leinster, while Sinn Féin are still weak west of the Shannon away from the border, as well as the adjacent Shannonside counties of Longford and Westmeath. There were fewer votes to take from Labour there, and a stronger resurgence of Fianna Fáil.
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EPG
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2014, 05:44:09 pm »
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To reiterate, the most important facts about Irish politics since 1999 have been the decline of Fianna Fáil and the rise of Sinn Féin, and the first is more important because Fianna Fáil governed the State for 61 of the 79 years between 1932 and 2011, at first alone, later in coalition. In this period, the FF vote moved from 38.9% (1999) down to 31.8%, falling further to 25.4% and finally almost unchanged at 25.3% (2014).

Despite being in government in a country where local elections are extremely second-order, 1999 was a high point for Fianna Fáil. They served in perhaps the most popular government in the history of the state. GDP growth was around 9%, unemployment was at 5.5% and falling (it was over 10% when they came into office, and 15% on average between 1983 and 1995), peace had been achieved in the North, and there was rapid public spending growth and big income tax cuts.

Already, Fianna Fáil's vote was lowest in urban areas like Waterford City (20% of the vote, just ahead of the Workers' Party). There's also a visible weakness in the Dublin commuter belt, which was smaller than it is today. Dublin and Cork cities still provided lots of votes from their traditional base of downscale homeowners; in the inner suburbs of north Dublin, the only urban area that voted FF at anything like national rates, this resilience cannot be separated from the efforts of the indefatigable Bertie Ahern. Note other, more unusual areas of FF weakness: Milford, Co. Donegal, fortress of Independent Fianna Fáil; Monaghan, (Provisional) Sinn Féin's first southern outpost; Roscommon, one of the first counties to strongly favour local independents, back in 1985. Their strongest county was Clare (De Valera's old constituency) and they generally did best in agricultural counties: Laois, North Tipperary, Limerick, Cavan, Westmeath, Meath.

The 2004 local election, after two years of relative restraint in budgets, panicked the government into a much more expansionary fiscal policy that was the critical, causal point for the subsequent economic crisis. Fianna Fáil, in particular, declined to perilously close to Fine Gael's total of councillors, belying their more comfortable first-preference vote lead (transfer-repellence under PR-STV). FF was the party most affected by the end of the dual mandate which allowed TDs/Senators to serve on councils. Their biggest losses were in Laois, where a lot of their biggest vote-winners stepped down, mostly due to dual mandates. A strong challenge from the Tom Parlon machine, which won 10% of the vote, didn't help either (though FF did relatively well in Offaly). There aren't many other discernible regional patterns, except that urban areas were generally worse for vote losses than rural ones, and that the north Dublin suburbs turned away from Fianna Fáil.

2009 was a period of unprecedented weakness. Most of the losses of public support that led to the earthquake election of 2011 had already been incurred by mid-term. Still, it's noteworthy that the fall in first-preference vote share was not quite as big as 2004. More bitter was the psychological impact of finishing a distant second to Fine Gael for the first time. Fianna Fáil's strong area, apart from West Clare which presumably still looked at Dev's portrait before leaving home for the polling station, was an inland, vertical belt of Greater Midlands from Cavan to North Tipperary. This area later provided Seán Gallagher with most of his winning constituencies in the 2011 presidential election, which is no coincidence as it seems to be the party's new core area, far from the cities, the expanding Dublin commuter belt, and historically-competitive south Munster. Unlike the scattergun losses of 2004, 2009's fall was bigger where FF had further to fall. Stronger urban areas turned firmly away from the party. There were routs in Cork and Dublin - but note the impressive performance of Mary Fitzpatrick, the publicly-scorned local rival of Bertie Ahern, in Cabra-Glasnevin in the north-west suburbs of the capital. They actually increased their vote in Brian Cowen's home county of Offaly, lol.

So 2014 was rather odd. I find it hard to identify informative patterns of change, except that results remained broadly stable, but that the most negative changes were in Sinn Féin's strong areas (Monaghan, Louth, Kerry, South Dublin, Dublin City, Donegal), and the best were explicable by local reasons (Roscommon feels betrayed by the government; Cork is the home county of Fianna Fáil's new leader). The Dublin performance was more even, due to being worse in working-class areas and better in wealthy areas like Blackrock.
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EPG
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2014, 10:12:53 am »
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The Fine Gael and Labour stories are similar. Each party did OK in 1999 and 2004, really well in 2009, then really badly in 2014. This is essentially due to the anti-government nature of local elections in Ireland. In 1999 and 2004, Fine Gael and Labour were an uninspiring opposition that failed to make substantial gains, as reflected in general elections at the time; Sinn Féin instead gained. By 2009, voters had chosen the opposition in huge numbers. Two-thirds of Fianna Fáil losses between the 2007 and 2011 elections were completed by 2009. That swing swung away from Fine Gael and Labour to other parties in 2014, on top of lots of other voters whom they had picked up during their long period in opposition.

Austerity in Ireland has meant tax rises: over €4,000 per household since 2011. The biggest contribution was from a household charge/local property tax. LPT largely replaces volatile stamp duty revenues which withered away during the crisis as transactions collapsed. There were also large increases to pension levies, liquid wealth taxes (interest, capital gains and inheritance taxes), social insurance, VAT, alcohol excise and the cost of operating motor vehicles. In contrast, current government spending has stayed level overall. Savings in social welfare through higher employment and benefits cuts paid for spending increases elsewhere. Capital spending has been cut as bank recapitalisations stopped.

It would be difficult for any government to do well in 2014 having had to pass such budgets, be it a different set of leaders or or parties. Blaming arrogance, incompetence, or urban social elitism is over-explaining the natural consequence of massive income transfers from households to government. Keynesian stimulus or more radical steps didn't command even a large minority of democratic support; perhaps 30 out of 166 TDs elected in 2011 would have supported significant re-negotiation. So even with the best and shiniest government in the world, this fiscal context could not be avoided democratically. On the other extreme of partisan sympathy, the FG-Lab meme is that they win elections after FF causes a crisis, then lose after cleaning up the mess. This self-pity is fair some of the time (1957, the 80s) but doesn't explain the rest (1951, 77, 97) and the excuse will probably be cited about this government too. I think they have always lost after a single term because they didn't do much to fix whatever problems FF caused, so why trust them rather than FF to try to fix it?

Enough context. Since 1999, Fine Gael have weakened most around the Shannon, where FF have been most resilient, and in urban, working-class areas like the north of Dublin and Cork cities. They also diminished noticeably in north county Cork, Sligo and the Dublin commuter belt, though they are doing better in South Kildare. They did, and have done, worse in middle- and lower-income urban areas and in heartlands of traditional Gaelic culture including the Gaeltacht, which are by no coincidence peripheral areas (Donegal, Kerry, Conamara, though the effect is not really notable in west Mayo). North Tipperary should be a heartland but for the dissident Lowry Team machine. Also, places near Dublin are generally more wary of Fine Gael. Further out, you get areas of strength; the traditional north-western belt (excluding Donegal), and a southern belt from Kilkenny to west Cork, excluding North Tipperary. Note that they do much better in Clare now than in its past of Fianna Fáil pre-eminence. National support in these four elections was 28.1%, 27.6%, 32.2% and 24.0%.

Labour has never done very well in local elections; even in 1991, just before their best ever general election result, they only got 10.5%. In these elections, they won 10.8%, 11.4%, 14.7% and 7.2%. This dictates the pattern for the country as a whole; broad growth followed by sharp decline in 2014. As a long-run trend, several centres of support have diminished, not just in their weaker area to the west of the country (Kerry, Sligo and environs) but also in traditional heartlands in the east (the Suir valley, Wicklow, north county Dublin), while support has been resilient in Carlow-Kilkenny, Westmeath, Kildare and the Dublin inner suburbs. The sheer inequality of outcomes perhaps explains best why dire predictions about Labour seat totals are overstated; a collapse in the Labour vote in Sligo, Donegal or Roscommon doesn't really matter much, and their vote is likely to have fallen furthest in areas of unlikely 2011 gains (west Cork? Clare?), so it is unlikely that they will be returned with zero, two, or five seats, which one can see in the occasional naive forecast.
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ObserverIE
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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2014, 08:54:42 pm »
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Austerity in Ireland has meant tax rises: over €4,000 per household since 2011. The biggest contribution was from a household charge/local property tax. LPT largely replaces volatile stamp duty revenues which withered away during the crisis as transactions collapsed. There were also large increases to pension levies, liquid wealth taxes (interest, capital gains and inheritance taxes), social insurance, VAT, alcohol excise and the cost of operating motor vehicles. In contrast, current government spending has stayed level overall. Savings in social welfare through higher employment and benefits cuts paid for spending increases elsewhere. Capital spending has been cut as bank recapitalisations stopped.

http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/releasespublications/documents/economy/2013/nie_2013.pdf

Based on that (the section on local and central government expenditure starts at page 20), the biggest contributions seem to have come from increased income tax revenues - in particular the Universal Social Charge (USC) - and from VAT revenues. LPT is a smaller contributor overall; although, because it is based on assumed property values, it will be more important in the Greater Dublin Area and other cities where house prices are higher. (In contrast, water charges will hit relatively harder than LPT in areas where property prices fell sharply in the crash and have staged no significant recovery and on private and social housing tenants who are not liable for LPT.)

The "spending increases" have been almost entirely to pay interest on debt repayments, just in case anyone thinks that the populace have started living it high on the hog. Most other current expenditure has remained static or decreased.
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EPG
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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2014, 06:07:33 am »
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http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/releasespublications/documents/economy/2013/nie_2013.pdf

Based on that (the section on local and central government expenditure starts at page 20), the biggest contributions seem to have come from increased income tax revenues - in particular the Universal Social Charge (USC) - and from VAT revenues. LPT is a smaller contributor overall

Thank you for this contribution which I hope readers will read. As contributors to government income, yes taxes on earned income are larger, but this is mostly due to higher household incomes rather than new austerity measures under FG-Lab. USC in particular pre-dates the current government; it was part of the Lenihan fiscal "heavy-lifting" that FF has stopped boasting about during the current Dáil, beginning in early 2011 just as that government was collapsing. In this sense, the government's major intervention in 2011-14 has been the property tax, especially because 2013's figure is based on only half a year of collection.

The "spending increases" have been almost entirely to pay interest on debt repayments, just in case anyone thinks that the populace have started living it high on the hog. Most other current expenditure has remained static or decreased.

Health spending, too, has been rising, which is no small deal. Be in no doubt that political prioritisation has been happening, and some departments are still getting more money, apparently correlated with political proximity to Enda Kenny.
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Harry Hayfield
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« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2015, 08:34:43 am »
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Here are some of my Irish Republic election maps
Referendum 2007


Referendum 2009


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EPG
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2015, 04:34:55 pm »
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General elections to the 4th-8th Dála were held between 1923 and 1933 under the same constituencies. 147 TDs in 28 geographical constituencies, and 6 TDs in 2 university constituencies, were elected by the single transferable vote. 1923 was the first Irish general election where all the main parties (including the two wings of Sinn Féin) competed against each other and in which candidates of other parties were not urged to stand down, or intimidated into doing so, but many anti-treaty Republicans were in prison after the civil war, and elections were not free of violence or paramilitarism until the late 1930s.

The basic party system through this period was pro-treaty republicans led by Cosgrave (Cumann na nGaedheal), anti-treaty republicans led by De Valera (going under various names, but the majority faction was known from 1926 as Fianna Fáil), Labour, Farmers and independents/others. The independents were often Protestants, businessmen, farmers, or ex-Irish Parliamentary Party. The rump of Sinn Féin aligned to the IRA stood independently in June 1927, and small parties appeared through the period; public sources are rather scarce and unreliable on their performances. Apart from De Valera's republicans and rump Sinn Féin, all the groups were basically pro-treaty. Cumann na nGaedheal governed from 1922 to 1932, eventually supported by the Farmers; Fianna Fáil replaced them from 1932 to 1948, initially with Labour support.



Labour contested all but two geographic constituencies in 1923; they never contested university constituencies in Dáil Éireann. It is remarkable that their three weakest vote shares in 1923 were in Dublin South, Mayo North and Dublin North, and that they won less than three per cent in each; furthermore, the Cork Borough result was fifth-worst at less than four per cent. Eventually their Dublin vote rose, but never to levels achieved in strong rural constituencies. Well into the 1950s/60s, Labour was mostly representative of farm labourers. Jim Larkin was opposed to the Labour and ITGWU leaderships and stood several non-party candidates in Dublin in 1923, but subsequent public support for his Irish Worker League was fairly low compared to his powerful influence in Dublin trade unions, so his role doesn't fully explain the phenomenon of the low urban vote.

The rest of Labour's story is about diminution from their June 1927 peak of 13% of the national vote and their retreat to their base in the south-east in 1933, when they won 5% nationally. The south-east was a region of small agricultural industries in the towns, but also of larger farms and therefore large numbers of labourers in the countryside, which explains the correlation between Labour and Farmer vote shares in this period. It is hard to ascribe Labour's decline to any one force, but the rise of Fianna Fáil attracted voters from all classes and parties. Notable also is that Labour was the official opposition to Cumann na nGaedhael until 1927, while Fianna Fáil abstained the Dáil.

As for why Labour did so poorly in the first place compared to other European countries in the 1920s, the civil war polarised opinion, and most Irish people were devoutly Catholic in the 1920s, many of the farmers being (small) landowners, while many among Dublin's unionised working-classes were Protestants (e.g. railwaymen, clerks) with their religious interests to look to. After 1927, Fianna Fáil just supplanted whatever role Labour had as a significant party in the 1920s constellation.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2015, 05:34:56 pm by EPG »Logged
Colbert
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2015, 06:54:20 pm »
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what's the big difference today between FF and FG ?
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EPG
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2015, 09:14:29 pm »
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They have different members.




Don't worry, you do not have to pronounce Cumann na nGaedheal to read this post. This is the story of the pro- and anti-treaty republicans. Sinn Féin had a strong dislike of political parties, especially other ones. It cast itself as the national organisation representing Irishmen during independence negotiations with Britain, inevitably diverse, inevitably fractious. As the anti-treaty republicans boycotted Dáil Éireann, the pro-treaty side under Cosgrave was left in charge of the government, and then the civil war began. In the second half of 1922, there was no government party, no national Sinn Féin organisation, and only a few dozen local Sinn Féin branches were still active. Facing organised opposition parties in the Oireachtas, Cumann na nGaedheal was organised during winter 1922-23 as the government party, more so than Cosgrave's cabinet was the Cumann na nGaedheal government.

Some months later, De Valera was thrown in jail while campaigning for his seat in the 1923 election held immediately after the civil war. Ambiguity warning: in 1923, he led a refounded party known simultaneously as "Cumann na Poblachta" (actually the name of his faction of, or political party within, 1922 Sinn Féin), the "Republicans", or simply "Sinn Féin", which was the eventual consensus choice. In 1926, he quit and founded a new party, called "Fianna Fáil, The Republican Party", bringing at least half of the anti-treaty republicans with him and sidelining the rest in the rump or nowadays "Fourth" Sinn Féin controlled by the IRA. Neither main party did that well in June 1927; CnaG formed a small minority government which was untenable once FF entered the Dáil in August. Both parties then did well in the September election. CnaG could form a stable minority government backed by Farmers. FF took over government in 1932, backed by Labour, and won a majority in 1933. CnaG folded into Fine Gael later that year.

CnaG's heartlands were generally where the 1922 pro-treaty TDs were: the north of the country, particularly Connacht, and the cities, most obviously Dublin but also Cork. They were weak where organised farmers' parties did well: the south-east in the 20s and the north-east in the 30s. Oh, and in Dev's Clare. To the extent that CnaG grew at all during its existence, or even its post-existence as Fine Gael up to 1948, it was by accretion of other politicians in its field of gravity: in rough order, urban Protestants, free-trading farmers, the Redmondites, and finally protectionist farmers and proto-fascists. The 1922 government supporters were its ever-dwindling parliamentary base, with hardly any new CnaG men or Fine Gaelers per se until 1948, and 1923 was not that auspicious a start to begin with, with single-party government only possible because Republicans abstained from the Dáil. Observe spurts of growth in individual constituencies like Waterford, 1932 (William Redmond); Wexford, 1932-33 (two former TDs, National League and Farmer, stood for CnaG). In this era immediately after independence, Protestants often preferred independents, though CnaG benefitted from some crossover with the right candidates, like Ernest Blythe in Monaghan. Finally, of course, governing through the Great Depression did not help. National percentages: 40, 27, 39, 35, 30.

Fianna Fáil, by contrast, did well through this period in a remarkably simple pattern of expansion out of the west. Hardly any improvement in June 1927: even though Sinn Féin had split, this was quite poor considering the active repression of the Republicans in the post-civil war election of 1923, twelve thousand being in jail. Don't underestimate the extent to which FF was a new party, most of whose candidates were also new. Its core was the west, particularly Connacht and Republican Kerry, with Clare joining the vanguard upon De Valera's release from prison. In this pre-housebuilding, pre-welfare state period, Fianna Fáil's weakest results were in urban areas, and some Protestant areas: Wicklow, Cavan and west Cork, though not Monaghan. Also, Labour contested working-class voters in the somewhat urbanised south-east. By 1932, FF was a more popular party of government than CnaG had ever been. The 1933 election yielded nearly half of the national vote and bolstered the historic first FF government in its most radical period: essentially, the period before Emergency (WWII) gave the party a taste for centralised and at times repressive power. National percentages: 27, 26, 35, 44, 50.
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joevsimp
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2015, 02:44:14 pm »
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what's the big difference today between FF and FG ?

http://jasonomahony.ie/an-occasional-guide-to-irish-politics-the-difference-between-fianna-fail-and-fine-gael/

note that its tagged 'not quite serious' still fairly accurate though

don't particularly agree with the guy's politics but his writing style's pretty funny and his observations are good
« Last Edit: January 06, 2015, 02:47:12 pm by joevsimp »Logged
Antonio V
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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2015, 05:17:36 am »
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what's the big difference today between FF and FG ?

http://jasonomahony.ie/an-occasional-guide-to-irish-politics-the-difference-between-fianna-fail-and-fine-gael/

note that its tagged 'not quite serious' still fairly accurate though

don't particularly agree with the guy's politics but his writing style's pretty funny and his observations are good

Haha, this is excellent.
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