herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Lucinda's party is still struggling to get off the ground

Lucinda Creighton's dance of the seven veils is nearly over.

In roughly two weeks (March 2 is the provisional launch date we've been given), we will find out whether or not the leader of Reboot Ireland has created a new political force to be reckoned with.

By hiring Eddie Hobbs (inset) as her wingman, however, we can at least say with confidence that she has got a decent bouncer.

"I describe myself as being at the front door of the party," the celebrity accountant declared at a public meeting in Cork this week.

He sees his role as "welcoming in new members with one hand, with a baseball bat in my other hand for the old political stock who think they can join this party as a flag of convenience."

If this image sounds a little scary, Lucinda insists that it isn't putting people off.

According to her, Reboot Ireland has inspired huge public interest and is picking up donors and members all over the country.

She is now "totally confident" that they will have a candidate in all 40 constituencies at the next election, giving it a real chance of holding the balance of power.

Like so much else to do with Reboot Ireland, we have to take this on trust.

The truth is that ever since Creighton and Hobbs held an awkward pre-launch press conference on January 2, very little about their activities has leaked out.

There are two possible explanations - either they are doing a brilliant job of keeping their A-team under wraps or the recruitment process has not been as fruitful as they let on.

As always in Ireland, at least a few rumours are doing the rounds.

vague

One name being mentioned is Mary Davis, the Special Olympics organiser and former presidential candidate.

Davis is a fine person, but she turned out to be a woeful campaigner in 2011 - failing to fight off a series of 'quango queen' allegations and finishing last with just 2pc of the vote.

Nor have we found out much about what kind of policies Reboot Ireland might offer.

Their website is still more or less a blank sheet, containing four vague principles, a plea for money and, well, precious little else.

Eddie Hobbs did recently disclose that the party will use "right-wing policies to achieve left-wing objectives" but what that might mean in practice is still anyone's guess.

Again, we are left looking for straws in the wind. Two of 2015's biggest political issues so far have challenged all parties to stand up and be counted.

One is the Government's potential sale of Aer Lingus, the other is Clare Daly's bill on fatal foetal abnormalities.

On the first controversy, Lucinda has plenty to say. She rightly accuses the Coalition of offering a kneejerk negative response to the Aer Lingus bid, partly because northside Dublin Labour TDs are scared of losing their seats.

silent

During this week's abortion row, however, Lucinda was unusually silent.

This might seem strange, since Reboot Ireland only exists because she left Fine Gael over the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy act.

Clearly she is determined that her new party must not be pigeon-holed as a conservative Catholic outfit - which no doubt also explains why she has performed a u-turn on same-sex marriage and now promises to support it.

A recent opinion poll showed Reboot Ireland languishing at just 1pc. In fairness it was taekn soon after its launch.

At least the only way is up - but it will take more than Eddie Hobbs' baseball bat to get them there. More policies and, most importantly, more people.

All eyes on Lucinda's launch on March 2 then. It had better be good.

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