Election campaigns well under way as Ming pips the first televised debate

Sinn Féin seeks to shift political narrative back to housing during quiet week in the Oireachtas

Poll

With election campaigns well and truly under way, the normal political agenda is somewhat in abeyance – a light enough Cabinet agenda precedes what looks like a quiet week in the Oireachtas, though Sinn Féin will seek (once again) to shift the political narrative back to housing this evening with a Dáil motion on the issue.

Last night saw the first televised debate of the election campaign, when some candidates in the Midlands North West European Parliament constituency slugged it out with each other on RTÉ’s Upfront with Katie Hannon. Harry McGee ran the live story covering it. Bit of snap analysis from yours truly at the end. The verdict? Ming Flanagan probably the happiest. But no knockout blows, or standout performances. Hard, with eight candidates and just over an hour.

There’s another debate in Limerick this evening, this time among candidates in the country’s first election for a directly elected mayor, at an event organized by the Limerick Chamber of Commerce. You can follow it online. Harry will also be keeping an eye on events there. Another familiar face will be asking the questions.

By the way, if you missed the first constituency-specific polls of the European campaign, they were reported here on Saturday. They showed a few front runners who seem comfortably set for seats; and a mighty scramble in prospect after that.

Our lead story today reveals that senior officials in the Department of Public Expenditure are seeking to cap the growth in the numbers of senior managers and administrators in the HSE – the number of managers has increased by more 35 per cent since 2019.

Meanwhile, in an important development on the campaign trail, a man appeared in court yesterday after a Fianna Fáil candidate was confronted and racially abused while canvassing in Limerick. Aaron Daly, (37), with an address at Blackthorn Drive, Caherdavin, Limerick, appeared before Limerick District Court charged with two counts of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour. He was granted bail. With this sort of behaviour a growing feature of the campaign, it seems the gardai are looking to take quick action.

Jack Horgan Jones has the preview of this morning’s Cabinet meeting: there’ll be a proposal from Eamon Ryan to extend the Dart to Drogheda, Jack reports.

Best reads

The gardaí are going undercover in an, er, truck, to spy into your car and see if you’re using your mobile phone.

Fintan O’Toole wonders if Tony O’Reilly’s secret past fuelled his need for success.

Here’s our O’Reilly obituary, if you missed it. He was some operator, all the same.

Denis Staunton reports from Taipei on the inauguration of Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te. It’s one of the world’s great tinderboxes.

Playbook

The Cabinet meets at Government Buildings this morning, while over at Leinster House the week gets going at 2pm with Leaders’ Questions. After the order of business and oral (pre-submitted) questions to the Taoiseach, there’s Government statements on housing and then a Sinn Fein motion on housing in private members – a good four and a half hours of debate on housing. The Minister for Finance takes questions at 8.20pm.

There are two pieces of Government legislation in the Seanad – the legislation for the sovereign wealth and investment funds, and the Research and Innovation Bill, which provides for the amalgamation of the two major public funding agencies for research, the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland. They will be replaced by a new research and innovation funding agency, with the stunningly unimaginative title of Research Ireland, or Taighde Eireann.

There’s also a bunch of no doubt important but not very exciting looking committee meetings on.

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