Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Campaign Diary - Day 0

In my real life I'm a C programmer and we count from zero. It's just the way we are, being obsessed with integral things rather than using the natural numbering scheme and starting from 1. Hence yesterday, when Brian Cowen finally went up to the Phoenix Park and got the President to dissolve the Dáil, counts as day zero in my world.

The big item was the dissolution and the speeches from each of the party leaders. Cowen was surprisingly statesmanlike but then again as he is retiring he probably didn't feel the need to stick in a very partisan speech. Kenny and Gilmore both got straight into the election mode outlining their plans for government and all the amazing things that would happen once the reins of power had been handed over. While Kenny focussed more on FG's own stance, Gilmore went on the attack against both FF and FG and their right-wing, conservative duality.

The two speeches that interested me most were the Green and Sinn Féin contributions. Gormley, acutely aware that there may be no Green voice in the next Dáil set out his party's main achievements and put down some challenges to the future Taoiseach and Tanaiste (Kenny and Gilmore) about reform. O'Caolain, for once brief and to the point, got a good parting dig in at the Greens and again highlighted SF's stance against the EU/IMF.

All in all it was a bit unsatisfactory. For a set piece that has been on the cards for ages and had been fixed for over a week there didn't seem to be much in the way of oratory. In a way you wish that someone like Michael D Higgins had been given one last hurrah to deliver a suitably profound, erudite and at times funny speech wrapping up what has been a fairly disastrous Dáil over the last 3.5 years.

On the media front, I still think RTE's new show The 11th Hour needs a fair bit of work. I watched the 1st episode on RTE player and then watched last night's up to the "comedy" bit before switching over to Vincent Browne. However, it is worth noting that their go live date was brought back a few weeks with the early election. Also worth noting that early editions of The Colbert Report were also ropey despite the host's previous experiences on the Daily Show. It took the guts of a year to settle into a pattern that was comfortable in its own skin.

Speaking of Vincenzo Castano, it was interesting to see his all female panel on last night's show. There was minimal haranguing between the candidates but you felt for a while as though SF's Kathleen Funchion was only there to make up the numbers as there were several 10 minute segments where she didn't get a word in. It was also very brave of Noirín Hegarty to appear on the show considering the news about the Tribune.

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