Political Nepotism rife in the Labour Party?

seabhac siulach

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In the latest issue of The Phoenix (Dec 3rd 2010), there is a report on how Liz McManus, TD for Wicklow, attempted to hand her seat to her son, Ronan McManus, by splitting the constituency into two conventions for candidate selection. She was unsuccessful on this occasion, with former councillor Anne Ferris just about getting the nod. The Phoenix classes the convention as being 'gerrymandered' in McManus' favour.

Previously, The Phoenix reported on similar shenanigans in Dublin Southeast, where Ruairi Quinn performed the same manoeuvre, splitting the consituency into two conventions, in order to prevent Ivana Bacik getting the nod for the coming election. Ruairi, of course, is keeping the seat warm for his nephew Oisin Quinn. The last thing the Quinns want is for an outsider to come in and take their 'family's' seat thus preventing Oisin Quinn from claiming it, by right as they might see it, in the election after the next one (or so it would appear from the Phoenix articles).

Another example of keeping it in the family can be seen in the case of Labour TD, Joanna Tuffy. When she was elected to the Senate from South Dublin County Council in 2003, her father Eamon Tuffy, a Labour Party councillor for Lucan, was co-opted to replace her (Wikipedia page on Joanna Tuffy). Curious that, the lack of alternative candidates available to replace her that they had to keep it 'in family'.

We all, depressingly, assume that this stuff is going on (and has always gone on) in Irish politics, but it is disturbing that it is so blatant. Can someone answer me why anyone would want to contribute, say, to Labour Party activities (fund-raising, canvassing, etc.) when it is solely to keep these self-appointed political dynasties in place? Why waste your time merely to put another Quinn on the road to political riches, say?
Is politics one of the few closed shops remaining in society? Indeed, could the activities of such as McManus and Quinn (as detailed in The Phoenix) not be classed as corruption and manipulation? If a TD's job is a profession, are their actions not tantamount to interference in the 'market', an abuse of competition laws?

Labour's holier-than-thou posture vis-a-vis Fianna Fail, etc. looks hollow in the light of the recent allegations of The Phoenix. [Note: I am politically unaligned]
It is increasingly apparent that the expected election of The Labour Party and/or Fine Gael to government will not bring a change in the political culture but will merely maintain the status quo. What is needed is a clean break from these parties of the status quo and their parasitical activities. It is to be hoped that that clean break comes soon, the present economic chaos accelerating the process.
 
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havesomeimagination

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ditto Joe Costello's attempts to keep the seat warm for his wife Emer in Dublin Central and former Anglo executive Arthur Spring of the Spring dynasty running in Kerry
 

jayblue

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Labour is not different from the other parties here, political parties and politicians seem to forget that the seat belongs to the people and not them.

At least this will not happen with FF politicians who are retiring at the next election, as the party is so toxic people will not vote for FF this time around, unless your one of the 13%
 

siostalóir

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Does Proinsias de Rossa still employ his son in Europe or did he swap offspring / staff with someone else?
 

livingstone

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Splitting constituencies makes sense to ensure a balanced ticket. The chances of Kevin Humphries getting elected seems much higher than Ivana Bacik's would have been in DSE, so if Quinn had actually wanted to gerrymander a convention, he would almost certainly not have done so in the way you suggest.

Likewise, in Wicklow having a candidate from the north and a candidate from the south and a candidate from the west makes sense in terms of a balanced ticket. I'd be interested in any evidence you have that local TDs are the ones who decide the policy surrounding the selection convention? Otherwise, you're making a lot of assumptions.

Quite aside from all of that, if you genuinely want to move away from dynastic politics, that doesn't just mean not voting for someone just because of their surname, it also means not holding someone's surname against them. Spring in Kerry North shouldn't be elected because of who his uncle was. But nor, then, should he be criticised because of who his uncle was. Anyone who votes against someone on the basis of their surname is the exact same as someone who votes for someone for the same reason.
 

seabhac siulach

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May I add that some may think that these things (i.e. political integrity, above board political appointments based on merit, etc.) are of little consequence in an era of economic meltdown. However, I would suggest that the maintenance of a 'clean' political culture (as much as that is possible) is essential. One could argue that it was political/social/business 'incestuousness' that has got us into the mess we are in at the moment, with too many 'old-boy' networks linking individuals in politics, business, etc. One may only need think of Sean Fitzpatrick, Fingers Fingleton, Sean Quinn et al. and their links to Fianna Fail, each other and to myriad boards of this agency or that. Without drawing the obvious conclusions from these personal connections, it is clear that the banking bailouts have crippled this country.

It is this closed shop, old-boy network, that has kept power firmly in the hands of a small cabal for too long in this country. The 'nepotism' that I refer to in The Labour Party is merely another facet of this malaise in our wider political culture. To reform the system would require the sweeping from power of all the parties that have engaged in the mild charade that passes for politics in this country. An election on its own will not bring the necessary change...a wider reform of politics is required.
 

havesomeimagination

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Splitting constituencies makes sense to ensure a balanced ticket. ..

Likewise, in Wicklow having a candidate from the north and a candidate from the south and a candidate from the west makes sense in terms of a balanced ticket.
Great - a defence of nepotism on grounds of micro-localism.
 

Casillas

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Why can't we have a law that no family member can take their relations seat until ten years has passed?!
 

talkies

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Another example of keeping it in the family can be seen in the case of Labour TD, Joanna Tuffy. When she was elected to the Senate from South Dublin County Council in 2003, her father Eamon Tuffy, a Labour Party councillor for Lucan, was co-opted to replace her (Wikipedia page on Joanna Tuffy). Curious that, the lack of alternative candidates available to replace her that they had to keep it 'in family'.


To defend my local reps who I helped get elected; Mr. Tuffy has been duely elected twice since being co-opted. He was involved in local politics and community activities for well over 30 years and ran for the council and the Dail (70s and 80s) not gaining a seat at a time when the constituency was very much a FF stronghold with charismatic candidates like Liam Lawlor (no need to mention the legacy there). Eamon Tuffy record as a local activist, Labour member and public rep speaks for itself, if you care to know look here http://www.labour.ie/eamontuffy/

We have no lack of strong Labour candidates in the DMW. Deputy Tuffy was selected as dail candidate when her name was drawn from a hat after a dead heat with Cllr Robert Dowds. Tuffy went on to win the 1st Dail seat in DMW for Labour since the 70's. Cllr Dowd's went on to top the poll in the council elections

Last Monday Joanna Tuffy and Robert Dowd's were selected to run together in the coming dail election with 3 other young contenders biting at their heels, including Cllr Catriona Jones who was elected as a rep for lucan/palmerstown as and almost unknown in the last local elections giving Labour 2 seats out of 4 when they were polling nationally at 11%. If you care to check out some of her credentials look here: People - Cllr Caitriona Jones - Home Page

So you were saying?
 
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redhead101

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So let me see if I've got this straight.

Labour selecting somebody other than a member of a family of a sitting TD is evidence of nepotism?
 

seabhac siulach

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I'd be interested in any evidence you have that local TDs are the ones who decide the policy surrounding the selection convention? Otherwise, you're making a lot of assumptions.
Ah yes, evidence.

We should be rigorous in applying the strictest standards on any putatively nefarious activities of our elected reps, should we not? Sensitive and perhaps litigious souls that they are...

But then, of course, if I had evidence I would be bringing it to the notice of the authorities. I can go only on what I read and what I read (and see with my own eyes) is that political dynasties are in place. Either that or we are to assume that only offspring and relatives of elected representatives are talented enough to seek office...a statistically dodgy proposition. May I say that the 'accusations' I make come from The Phoenix and I am merely reporting what appears to be a prima facae example of convention manipulation in Wicklow.
By the way, your contention that splitting the convention is, oh so sensible, is a bit weak, considering that the manoeuvre carried out by Ruairi Quinn had not been used in that constituency before. Strange that Bacik's appearance on the scene should cause the Labour Party to start applying such 'sense' to its conventions, i.e. splitting them. Just a coincidence, though, eh?

It is clear that a famous 'name' is used as a franchise by many political families, witness the Springs in Kerry, the Lenihans in Dublin, the Cowens in Offaly, etc. It is clear that the holding of such a name confers advantage, not only in name recognition, but also because they are a brand. In a clientelist such as we have the electorate can have some trust that those who are of the same brand will continue to provide whatever, let's say, constitituency favours someone of the same brand had previously provided. For example, a constituent may confidently expect that because they secured a medical card or some other favour from the uncle they will receive the same attention from the nephew, the political connections already being in place. This would all be hypothetical, of course.
 

seabhac siulach

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So let me see if I've got this straight.

Labour selecting somebody other than a member of a family of a sitting TD is evidence of nepotism?
No, but the splitting of a constituency's conventions is clearly evidence of an attempt. The fact that the attempt was as incompetent as most Irish political activities is neither here nor there...
 

Macy

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I live in wicklow - Labour splitting the constituency made total sense to me, attempt at nepotism or not. Different issues affecting Bray compared to south wicklow. Shock horror, the candidates it didn't suit didn't like it!
 

Expose the lot of them

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Pat Upton dies, Mary Upton gets the nod at the expense of Eric Byrne, Mary Upton announces she is not standing in the GE and Baby Upton hopes to be selected as one of the candidates (he may have already been selected). Smells a bit off to me.
 

seabhac siulach

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To defend my local reps who I helped get elected; Mr. Tuffy has been duely elected twice since being seconded. He was involved in local politics and community activities for well over 30 years and ran for the council and the Dail (70s and 80s) not gaining a seat at a time when the constituency was very much a FF stronghold with charismatic candidates like Liam Lawlor (no need to mention the legacy there). Eamon Tuffy record as a local activist, Labour member and public rep speaks for itself, if you care to know look here People - Cllr Eamon Tuffy - Home Page

We have no lack of strong Labour candidates in the DMW. Deputy Tuffy was selected as dail candidate when her name was drawn from a hat after a dead heat with Cllr Robert Dowds. Tuffy went on to win the 1st Dail seat in DMW for Labour since the 70's. Cllr Dowd's went on to top the poll in the council elections

Last Monday Joanna Tuffy and Robert Dowd's were selected to run together in the coming dail election with 3 other young contenders biting at their heels, including Cllr Catriona Jones who was elected as a rep for lucan/palmerstown as and almost unknown in the last local elections giving Labour 2 seats out of 4 when they were polling nationally at 11%. If you care to check out some of her credentials look here: People - Cllr Caitriona Jones - Home Page

So you were saying?
Yes, but the fact remains that J. Tuffy's council seat was given to her father. Does this not look bad, even in terms of optics? Even if nepotism is not taking place, surely it would be better to avoid suggestions, even if tenuous, of same, no?

Could one suggest that J Tuffy's success in obtaining a first council seat was partly down to her relation to Mr Tuffy, her father, with the advantages accruing from name recognition if nothing else? This was a sizeable advantage that J Tuffy brought to the table when going up against an opponent without an established 'brand' in the constituency. Did Mr Tuffy canvass for his daughter, using his many political connections (built up over the 70/80s) in her favour?

I do not suggest that elected reps do not work hard and that they are subsequently validly elected for such work. I wish to understand why it should be that dynasties are present in parties. Of course, I have my theories as set out above...
 

Rocky

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To begin with just because you're the son/daughter (or any other relation) of a TD doesn't mean you're not up to it. Some great TDs over the years were the sons of TDs, Garret Fitzgerald (although he was famous in his own right when he got elected), Liam Cosgrave (the first one), T.F. O'Higgins and Declan Costello among others. But of course just because you're related doesn't mean you're any good either Brian Cowen, Mary Coughlan the second Liam Cosgrave and so on.

Like most things there are no absolutes. At that is a disgrace that TDs do push their own relations above all others and get their own supporters to vote for them at conventions to get them on the ticket, when their child isnt up to it and this occurs in all parties and it is wrong and shouldn't and members should take responsbility. I guess it's human nature to think your child is great and the best possible TD/Cllr.

In the end though like nearly everything in a democracy the final decision is up to the people. If a party puts forward someone, simply because of who their related to, then don't vote for them. The leadership and National Execs of all parties will step in to prevent that happening, if they know it doesn't work. Instead escepially in rural areas many people do simply vote for a surname, they liked the father, so they vote for the child and that has too stop and it is one of the many problems with our democracy and as with most of the other problems the ultimate power is with the people to change it.

To be fair to Fine Gael in Dublin there isn't one TD who inherited their seat, so that is at least something on their end. I don't know about Labour here.
 

talkies

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Yes, but the fact remains that J. Tuffy's council seat was given to her father. Does this not look bad, even in terms of optics? Even if nepotism is not taking place, surely it would be better to avoid suggestions, even if tenuous, of same, no?
The aim was to pick the best candidate. It may have been as risk because many might share your point of view. People have said to me on the doors they "don't vote for dynasties" all I can say is they Tuffy's are not exactly the Lenihans. However, enough people were suitably impressed with Eamon Tuffy to vote for him given the opportunity.

Could one suggest that J Tuffy's success in obtaining a first council seat was partly down to her relation to Mr Tuffy, her father, with the advantages accruing from name recognition if nothing else? This was a sizeable advantage that J Tuffy brought to the table when going up against an opponent without an established 'brand' in the constituency. Did Mr Tuffy canvass for his daughter, using his many political connections (built up over the 70/80s) in her favour?
ABSOLUTELY!
The longstanding integrity and hard work of the both of the Tuffy's is clearly recognised. Have to say getting them elected was no walk in the park. Skin of the teeth senarios but improving. Not so sure if the family connection gave a "sizeable" advantage to Joanna the first time she ran for the council. I wasn't involved at that point but I'm told she personally knocked on every door in Lucan at least once and many twice.
I do not suggest that elected reps do not work hard and that they are subsequently validly elected for such work. I wish to understand why it should be that dynasties are present in parties. Of course, I have my theories as set out above...
So have I. I'm in a profession that is a combination of my parents 2 different professions. Although I have no idea what would make someone want to be a public rep.
 
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danger here

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Why can't we have a law that no family member can take their relations seat until ten years has passed?!
Just to play Devil's Advocate for a second,how would this work if the son/daughter/sister/nephew/dog of a TD was proved to an excellent servant to the public (as opposed to a public servant ;) ? In that case,would this barring not be bad for democracy?

In my opinion nepotism should be frowned upon similar to having a coke habit but I'm not sure if banning it for 10 years would solve the core problem.
 


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