Right now the Facebook page for Renua Ireland – Ireland’s newest political grouping- stands at over 10,000 likes. This is a phenomenal feat that makes Renua, only officially launched last week, the most popular Irish political party on the social media site barring only Sinn Fein.
And day and night the Renua Ireland Facebook page posts scathing critiques and parodies of the party it is supposed to represent, to enormous public applause.
This is because Renua, led by former Fine Gaeler Lucinda Creighton and touting itself as a young, energetic challenger to an old order, failed to properly sort out its social media presence on the day of its launch. This disastrous mistake has led to Renua Ireland’s actual Facebook page languishing at only 900 likes, while its parody page, which mercilessly criticises and mocks the party, sits at more than 10 times that figure.
The launch of Renua Ireland was supposed to be a dazzling and monumental occasion that would take the Irish political scene by storm, akin to the rise of the Progressive Democrats before them. It has been anything but.
Even with much of the Irish media lining up as excited cheerleaders for the new political grouping, Renua still managed to fumble its execution, missing crucial steps that are tell-tale signs of the party’s fundamental disarray.
As well as the Facebook “glitch” as party apparatchiks have referred to it in interviews, there was also the messy business of a “car crash interview” given on RTE by party member Terence Flanagan.
As RTE’s Mary Wilson bowled him softball questions about aims and policies, Flanagan stuttered and froze like a nervous primary schooler who had forgotten his lines in the school nativity play.
Early media appearances by the party, including a tame and unappealing appearance on the Irish Times politics podcast yesterday, have been far from the smooth strut onto the political stage party enthusiasts had envisioned.
These early stumbles have revealed something fundamentally true about the party that constantly trumpets itself as a new, daring and bold player on the Irish political scene: it is more of the same.
The party makes vague and pathetic noises towards ideas like “reform” and “openness” like the man who sidles up to a beautiful woman in a bar and trots out tired pick-up lines in the hope they might work. However it doesn’t look like Renua is wooing the Irish electorate anytime soon.
Vague noises about “reform” are accompanied by unclear, and in some places non-existent, policies in regards to key areas such as health and education .
The “rebel” TDs who form the core of Renua make every attempt to present themselves as daring outsiders to Irish politics when they are anything but. They are Fine Gaelers, groomed in the same right wing conservativism that has dominated the country’s politics since the foundation of the state.
What makes their claims toward being progressive and forward looking even more laughable is the very reason they are not toeing the Fine Gael right now, because even that party of stalwart conservativism threw them out for being even too conservative for it.
Which makes them greatly more conservative than large swathes of the Irish public.
In true conservative tradition Renua does stand for renewal, in the sense that it stands renewing the promise of more of the same. More of the same fuzzy-minded political stumbling and inarticulate policies, more of the same dole queues and JobBridge offices, but this time with a smiling face and a kind word as they shove us off into the breadlines.
Renua is not a sheep in wolf’s clothing, but a wolf that doesn’t even have the common decency to form a half-baked disguise as anything else. Its deficiencies are glaring, evident and alarming.
Its appetizer course does not make it look as though it differs in any meaningful way from the buffet of bores already served up on the Irish political platter.
So vote Renua if you want the same tired policies, the same wearied platitudes and the same bumbling incompetence. But hey, at least it’ll be “open”, whatever that means.