By John Myers
As all Irish Ohioans will be busy celebrating with family and friends at mass, marching in The Parade and in public houses, don’t forget to be a good citizen and vote. The Ohio 2020 Primary Election is set for March 17th. Any registered voter can vote early by mail OR in-person.
One can vote early by mail by sending in an absentee ballot request to your local Board of Elections, the request form can be downloaded at the Ohio Secretary of State web site or at your local BOE web page. OR any registered voter can vote early, IN-PERSON, starting 30 days before the Election at your local County Board of Elections Office.
Just stop in during business hours (and SOME weekends), no need to mail any forms or make any appointments. But NOT on election day, and only in the morning the day before. Be safe and call your local BOE for specific times.
Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Ohio Board, gathered in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens on February 3, 2020 to honor the memory of the Four Chaplains. On that date, 77 years ago, The U.S. Dorchester was sunk by German U-Boats, over 600 soldiers perished in the icy North Atlantic.
Four Army Chaplains: One Catholic Priest, One Rabbi and Two Protestant Chaplains, gave up their own life vests to save members of their flock. Fr. John Washington, one of the four, was the son of Irish Immigrants. The monument is located between the Hebrew Garden and The Croatian Garden on East Blvd., just up from the Irish Garden. President Truman stated that the actions of the Four Chaplains “is a heroic event without a parallel in the American annals.”
Sinn Féin Tops the Poll
Sinn Féin, Ireland’s oldest political party, won the largest share of votes in the February 2020 Irish General Election. Sinn Féin received 535 thousand votes, Fianna Fail (FF): 484 thousand votes, and the current governing party of Fine Gael (FG): 455 thousand votes.
This outcome has rocked the Irish political establishment, which has been a two-party (FF & FG) affair since the creation of the Irish State in the 1920s. Due to the vagaries of the Irish political system, FF ended up with 38 seats in the Dáil Éirean (Irish Parliament, pron. Doyl Air-uhn). Sinn Féin was awarded 37 seats, and FG ended up with 35 TD’s (Teachta Dála, pron. tyOCH-ta DAW-la, a member of parliament).
Sinn Féin increased its number of Dáil seats by over 68%. 51-year-old Mary Lou McDonald, TD from Dublin Central, has led Sinn Féin since 2018, when Gerry Adams stepped down as President.
The Dáil has 160 TD’s, so 80 are needed to form a government. The Dáil meets at Leinster House near St. Stephens Green in Dublin.
No one party has enough votes to form a government on their own, thus a coalition must be formed. As of the writing of this article, no clear coalition has emerged.
Outgoing Taoiseach (Prime Minister, pron. Tee Shuck), Leo Varadkar (FG) was unequivocal that FG would refuse to even talk to Sinn Féin about a coalition. FF’s leader, Michael Martin, has made similar statements, but seemed to be less firm in his denial.
FF & FG could repeat the coalition they have had the past decade but reversing rolls with FF as the governing party and FG propping them up (“Confidence & Supply”). A Sinn Féin /FF coalition would be the most logical, but with almost equal numbers, who would be the Taoiseach, McDonald or Martin?
Regardless of whether Sinn Féin is part of the government or ends up as the official opposition party, their left-of-center manifesto and Nationalist/Reunification agenda will be a very fresh wind on the Emerald Isle. Sinn Féin’s amplified platform will be critical in 2020 while the European Union and Great Britain negotiate the specific details of the divorce agreement related to Brexit.
Their nationalist sensibilities will be critical to be at the table to ensure there is no hard border between the Irish Republic and the Six Counties. In addition, Sinn Féin’s greater presence will ensure that a Border Poll (vote) on reunification, provided for in the 1998 Good Friday Accord, will come sooner rather than later.