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Irish Opposition to Light up New Parliament

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TEHRAN, Feb 27 (ICANA)- Dismayed by the country's economic collapse and disgusted with the leaders who oversaw it, Irish voters have elected a disparate array of parliamentarians to hold its new government to account.
Sunday, February 27, 2011 11:05:35 PM
Irish Opposition to Light up New Parliament

From Gerry Adams, banned from speaking on Irish media until 1993 because of his ties to the Irish Republican Army, to a host of socialists and independents, some with striking hair styles, Ireland's new opposition will form a noisy and colorful bunch. Their entry to parliament indicates the scale of the upheaval that swept across the country, with politicians and parties who had governed for generations unceremoniously dumped out of power, Reuters reported. The result means the newly elected opposition should provide as much intrigue as the likely new governing coalition of Fine Gael and Labour, both parties lately in opposition, as they grapple with Europe's worst budget deficit. "They'll be an odd mix," Eoin O'Malley of Dublin City University said of the new opposition. "There's the free-market libertarians and right-wing economists who will funnily enough agree with hard-left Marxists that the banks should fold. "They'll be effective in making noise." It is the presence of so many independent candidates that catches the eye, with several not just winning their seats at their first time of trying but thrashing well-established parties and candidates in the process. Shane Ross, a former stockbroker and journalist in leafy Dublin South with a clipped English-sounding accent, secured almost more than double the vote of his nearest rival after winning support for representing shareholders and "the people" at numerous annual general meetings. Pensioners and ordinary members of the public who lost their life savings after investing in bank shares would yell "Go on Shane" as he took the political and corporate elite to task. JOINING THE BIG BOYS Alongside him on the opposition benches will be Mick Wallace, perhaps an even more unlikely legislator. A junior football coach and builder who through his company owes some 40 million euros ($55 million) to banks, Wallace sports a shock of long, wavy and often unkempt blond hair. And he nearly always wears pink. He only announced his intention to run some three weeks ago and cruised to victory in Wexford. He should have no problem in standing up for what he believes after a career in which he has constantly run against the grain. "One big contractor said to me: 'If you want to join the big boys, you have to cut your hair, buy a suit and join Fianna Fail'," he told Reuters in a recent interview. "Mick Wallace did none of those things and Mick Wallace succeeded." Luke "Ming" Flanagan is another high profile independent, given the nickname after his goatee beard and formerly shaved head attracted comparisons to the character "Ming the Merciless" in the comic strip "Flash Gordon." In his personal drive to legalise cannabis he has sent 500 cigarettes rolled with the drug to Irish politicians. He got none of them back. The independents are joined by a small group of socialists and a record number of members from Sinn Fein, a party whose transformation says much about modern Ireland. Previously the political representative of the now dormant IRA guerrillas, known for killing civilians, it won the support of working class voters by pledging to defend them from abuse and corruption among the discredited ruling elites. While many in the republic still recoil at the party -- and at the sound of Adams's strong accent from the British province of Northern Ireland -- many were happy to vote for him. They will be led in opposition by the few Fianna Fail candidates left standing after the electorate inflicted a devastating blow to the party that has dominated Irish politics for the last eight decades. Prior to this election, Fianna Fail had been the largest party in every election since 1932 and in power for 61 of the past 79 years. This weekend it looks set to fall to around 20 lawmakers out of 166, down from the 77 it had before the vote.

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