Public Affairs Update | May 2024

Heneghan Public Affairs Update for May 2024,

Public Affairs Update | May 2024

June 10, 2024

Political Update

Ongoing Preparations for June Elections

Friday 7th June – Voting will take place in three elections

• European

• Local elections

• Limerick mayoral election

European Elections

A total of 73 candidates have declared for the forthcoming European Parliament elections across the three constituencies of: Ireland South (23), Midlands North West (27) and Dublin (23).

Fourteen MEP will be returned:

• Five from the Midlands North West constituency

• Five from the South constituency

• Four from the Dublin constituency

https://www.rte.ie/news/politics/2024/0430/1446553-euro-election/

Local Elections

Local government elections are held every five years, and 949 councillors are elected across - 31 councils, consisting of: twenty-six county councils, three city councils, two city and county councils. Within these, there are ninety-five municipal districts.

For the first time since 2009, voters will be casting their local election ballots in June rather than May. The Irish political landscape has changed dramatically since the last local elections in 2019. This is best illustrated by the contrast between the local election results in 2019 and the general election in 2020.

All three major parties have cause for optimism in this election. Fianna Fáil is seeking third poll-topping performance in a row at local government level. Fine Gael will be hoping that its new leader will provide momentum ahead of polling, and Sinn Féin – which had a disastrous local election result in 2019 – had been polling very well in nearly all opinion polls sense the last General Election 2020, until recent months when support for the party started to slide.

2019 local election results:

Fianna Fáil

• 279 seats won

• First preference vote of 26.9%

• Seat change of +12 in comparison to the 2014 local election

Fine Gael

• 255 seats won

• First preference vote of 25.3%

• Seat change of +20 in comparison to the 2014 local election

Sinn Féin

• 81 seats won

• First preference vote of 9.5%

• Seat change of -78 in comparison to the 2014 local election

Labour

• 57 seats won

• First preference vote of 5.7%

• Seat change of +6 in comparison to the 2014 local election

The Green Party

• 49 seats won

• First preference vote of 4.0%

• Seat change of +37 in comparison to the 2014 local election

Social Democrats

• 19 seats won

• First preference vote of 2.3%

• Seat change of +19 in comparison to the 2014 local election

Independents

• 185 seats won

• First preference vote of 19.5%

• Seat change of -7 in comparison to the 2014 local election

Other parties

• 24 seats won

• First preference vote of 5.3%

• Seat change of -4 in comparison to the 2014 local election

Limerick Mayoral Election

Limerick will make history on the 7th June when it becomes the first in Ireland to vote for a Lord Mayor with executive functions. Limerick has had over six hundred Lord Mayors since 1197, but the next Mayor will be the first to be directly elected by the public.

There are thirteen candidates running in the Limerick mayoral election:

• Sarah Beasley, Aontú

• Daniel Butler, Fine Gael

• Frankie Daly, Independent

• Ruairí Fahy, People Before Profit–Solidarity

• Laura Keyes, An Rabharta Glas – Green Left

• Brian Leddin, Green Party

• John Moran, Independent

• Helen O’Donnell, Independent

• Elisa O’Donovan, Social Democrats

• Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Féin

• Dee Ryan, Fianna Fáil

• Conor Sheehan, Labour Party

• Gerben Uunk, Party for Animal Welfare

Opinion Poll

Support for Sinn Féin and Fine Gael tied at 23%  

According to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos B&A opinion poll Sinn Féin and Fine Gael are now level in support at 23% each. Sinn Féin slides down in support with a five-point fall while Fine Gael increased their support by four points.

https://www.irishtimes.com/politics/2024/05/16/sinn-fein-slide-continues-with-further-five-point-decline-in-irish-timesipsos-ba-opinion-poll/

Significant Government Decisions

Government cuts payments to Ukrainian refugees

14th May: The government signed off on a reduction of payments to Ukrainian refugees in state provided accommodation. The reduced payments will apply to Ukrainians who do not work and live in what is termed 'State-provided serviced accommodation', such as a hotel where meals are provided. It will not apply to Ukrainians living in what is termed 'pledged accommodation', such as people living in homes which have been leased to the State.

https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2024/0514/1448990-ireland-politics/

Ireland’s recognition of state of Palestine

28th May: It was one of those rare days in Leinster House where there was near unanimity. The recognition of Palestine as a State was a big moment for the Irish Government, eschewing the protection of the European Union to make a bold statement on what our nation believes is right, and what is not right, in terms of global affairs.

The flag being hoisted on the lawn of Leinster House yesterday morning was the visual confirmation of the move. For once, there was a sense of common purpose in the Dáil chamber, with speeches from all sides receiving nods of approval and  solidarity.

https://www.irishtimes.com/politics/2024/05/29/irelands-recognition-of-state-of-palestine-marks-a-historic-day-for-irish-politics/

Northern Ireland

Former DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson has bail conditions amended and date for next appearance set

22nd May: The case against former DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson and his co-accused, wife Eleanor Donaldson was back in court. The defendants did not appear at Newry Magistrates' Court but were represented by their legal team.

A date for a Preliminary Enquiry was set for the July 3rd (the day before the General Election in the UK) and a review of the case will take place on June 12 to ensure all aspects of the case are "on track".

Mr. Donaldson will not seek re-election as he faces charges for historical sex offences, his solicitor has said.

https://www.irishnews.com/news/northern-ireland/jeffrey-donaldsons-bail-conditions-amended-as-date-set-for-next-court-appearance-JC6LXB2ZY5BRHMCNKFVH7ESWUQ/

United Kingdom

PM Rishi Sunak announces UK general election for Thursday 4 July

23rd May: Rishi Sunak has vowed to "fight for every vote" as he called an early UK general election for Thursday 4 July. The PM made the announcement in a rain-soaked speech outside 10 Downing Street, as he bids to win a fifth term in office for the Conservatives. The surprise move overturned expectations of an autumn poll, which might have given the Tories a better chance of closing the gap with Labour. Sir Keir Starmer said it was "time for change" away from "Tory chaos".

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-69050450/

Geo-political Update

Assassination attempt on Slovakia Prime Minister

Wednesday 15th May: The Slovakian Prime Minister, Robert Fico, was shot in an assassination attempt when leaving a government meeting. The gunman shot Mr. Fico, five times, initially leaving the prime minister in a critical condition.

https://www.rte.ie/news/world/2024/0515/1449335-slovakia/

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and Six Others Killed in a Helicopter Crash

Monday 20th May: Iran declared five days of public mourning after President Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner and potential successor to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was killed in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain near the Azerbaijan border. The charred wreckage of the helicopter which crashed on Sunday carrying Mr. Raisi, passengers and crew was found early on Monday after an overnight search in blizzard conditions. “President Raisi, the foreign minister and all the passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

https://www.irishtimes.com/world/middle-east/2024/05/20/irans-president-found-dead-at-helicopter-crash-site-state-media-reports/

Other Significant Highlights

Economy

The latest Enterprise Barometer (KPMG)

Over 70% of businesses expect to increase salaries this year, while 40% plan to hire more staff, new data shows. The latest KPMG Enterprise Barometer reveals overall optimism among Irish businesses, with 65% expecting turnover to increase in the next 12 months.

However, those surveyed highlighted a number of challenges facing businesses this year, with rising labour costs top of the list.85% said labour costs will be their most significant hurdle, up from 43% last year.

https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2024/0508/1447819-70-of-businesses-plan-to-increase-staff-salaries-in-2024/

Ireland set to miss national and EU emissions reduction targets by long way

Ireland is set to reduce its total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by only 29 per cent by 2030, compared with the legally binding target of 51 per cent, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned in its latest projections. The data produced annually for the EU shows a pattern of continually missed targets, when sustained emission cuts are required.

The first two legally-binding carbon budgets (covering 2021-2025, and 2026-2030) – designed to curb emissions across the economy ¬– will not be met, the EPA concludes, “and by a significant margin of between 17 and 27 per cent”.

This will mean more stringent limits will have to be applied in the second budget period from 2026-2030, as excess GHG emissions from the preceding budget period must be carried forward to the next period. This risks the State having to curb economic activities with higher associated carbon, such as in industry or agriculture.

https://www.irishtimes.com/environment/climate-crisis/2024/05/28/ireland-set-to-miss-national-and-eu-emissions-reduction-targets-by-long-way/