Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Next Ceann Comhairle

So with reports of John O'Donohue's imminent demise, thoughts turn to who will be his replacement in the chair. Brendan Howlin as Leas Ceann Comhairle is probably near the top of the list but lets examine the options in some detail.

Firstly will an opposition TD actually accept the job? Putting a non government TD in effectively increases the majority in the Dail by two votes. If the Greens are going to walk those two extra votes won't be enough to hold on. However, if they stick it out at the weekend then it makes the FF/G/PD alliance pretty much impervious to falling with 84 seats. The independents won't matter and so it would be in the opposition's best interests to force another government TD to take the job.

The best part of being Ceann Comhairle is that the outgoing CC is automatically returned in a general election. For FF the best bet would be to appoint a TD from a 4 seater where they currently have two seats. Returning 2 from 4 would require about 35% with 1 in 3 needing only 20% and transfers. To my mind that suggests Dublin South West where they are definitely not going to hold two seats but the idea of Conor Lenihan as CC is almost too much to handle. Alternatively we could end up with Cyprian Brady from Dublin Central as CC leaving Mary Fitzpatrick to pick up the seat. But two terms on 939 first preferences would be outrageous.

Alternatively, the CC role may be dangled in front of the Greens to sweeten the deal in the re-negotiation of the Programme for Government. Ciaran Cuffe might be the choice here as DĂșn Laoighre is shrinking from a 5 to a 4 seater. The ministers would want to hang on to their roles and should be somewhat hopeful of re-election in the next General Election.

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