Bad news: Mullen win sparks new pandemic of outrage

Growing up as a small boy in County Monaghan, the divide in our school was never between Manchester United and Liverpool, or Manchester United and Chelsea (who were a rank mid-table team in those days), or even Manchester United and Arsenal.

No, it was between Manchester United, and Leeds United. Leeds were a big team in the early 1990s, winning the last ever English First Division title in 1992, before it became the Premiership a year later. We were all seven or eight years old at the time, and so naturally, we divided into two camps – Man U, or Leeds.

This is only worth mentioning because of what happened a decade later, in 2004. Leeds United, having invested heavily in players in an attempt to re-capture the glory days of the early 90s, imploded in spectacular style, and got relegated out of the Premier League altogether. Twenty years on, they’re still not back.

When it happened, Man United fans like me enjoyed it for a little while – watching the old enemy fall into ruin always has its moments. But then, suddenly, Leeds weren’t there to hate any more, and football got a little less interesting.

That’s a very long-winded parable to start an article about a Seanad election with, but you do wonder whether people who invest this much time and energy into trying to defeat Ronan Mullen would do if they actually succeeded:

She made a spreadsheet.

Honestly, if Mullen were to lose, for some of these people it might be like when Wiley E. Coyote finally caught the Roadrunner, and ended up as a lifeless husk of a dog with nothing to live for.

Anyway, there’s no need to worry about that: The good Senator appears on course for a very comfortable re-election, alongside former Tánaiste Michael McDowell and Alice Mary Higgins, whose father is the President:

Ruth Coppinger, there, on 8%, will not be elected, meaning that the revolution will have to wait for another few years, at least.

Anyway, more from Ireland’s most compassionate, kind, people:

It’s worth reflecting on Senator Mullen’s achievement for a moment. He’s now a three-term Senator, despite facing enormous, organised resistance every time. On this occasion, his opponents registered fully nine thousand extra voters in an effort to unseat him – and he’s won again anyway, maybe (if that tally is accurate) with his biggest ever vote.

Being honest, and meaning no disrespect to the Senator, or any other member of that august body, an individual Senator has virtually no power – especially somebody like Mullen who’s probably been on the wrong end of more 59 to 1 votes than anyone else in that chamber’s history. His presence in it is largely useful because it allows arguments to be made that aren’t made by, or to, anyone else in official Ireland by anyone else who they are obliged to at least hear out.

In fact, people like Mullen are exactly what the Seanad was designed for – to allow minority views to be heard, and represented, and to provide a space for big ideas and intellectual debate. In that context, both Mullen and McDowell are excellent additions. To be fair, one could say the same of Ivana Bacik, from the Trinity panel, even though few of her ideas would find much support on these pages.

Ordinarily though, we wouldn’t spend 600 words analysing the results of a Seanad election. Mullen’s victory is notable mainly because it’s the one time, every five years, when these people don’t get their way.

And boy, they really don’t like it.


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