From Socialist Voice, March 2011

Progressive independent gives the lead

Despite the electoral odds, Thomas Pringle of Killybegs ensured that Fianna Fáil would not take the remaining third seat in the Donegal South-West constituency.
     Given the huge task facing him and his campaign comrades, Thomas’s victory is all the more pleasing and really proves that concerted and strategic doorstep canvassing really does work as he broke the long-standing Coughlan dynasty in the constituency.
     Local reports suggest a Fianna Fáil melt-down as their many members and canvassers struggle to come to terms with this electoral ignominy. While they argue about their electoral strategy of running two candidates, especially at a time when the opinion polls were suggesting that Fianna Fáil were due to take a pasting, the most difficult pill to swallow is that the electoral landscape has changed. Many of the young voters in this constituency and the country as a whole, especially in the 25 to 45 age bracket, are shedding the voting shackles of previous generations and looking for something new and different.
     Sinn Féin seem to be the real beneficiaries of this demographic factor in Co. Donegal; and certainly, after many years of hard work, that party has broken new ground and seems very formidable for future electoral battles.
     The Labour Party, if it could sort out its internal personality issues and structure an organisational base within Co. Donegal, has the potential to build on its electoral progress. Like other parties, however, it seems hell-bent on personalities rather than credible substance as a means of winning elections.
     Fine Gael cannot afford to rest on its laurels, as its vote actually declined in the South-West constituency, and it still hasn’t been able to replace the evergreen Dinny McGinley.
     Coughlan’s demise is welcome. She personified all that many in the country found difficult to accept, and her arrogant and dismissive approach throughout her political career lacked real empathy and connect with the ordinary person, but she was always able to fall back on her party’s electoral machine and strong vote base.
     For Thomas Pringle the work is only beginning. But given his record at the council level, he has the real potential to build on his new-found electoral base. He is well liked and well regarded in Co. Donegal and clearly struck a chord with the local electorate as they pushed him further and further into the political field. His personal appeal and hard work can further cement his political vocation in this constituency.

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