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FRIDAY 09/01/2004 16:31:05
Historical figures top in political poll

Modern-day Irish politicians have been trounced by their historical counterparts in a new online poll.

By: Press Association

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern failed to even make the top 50 in the major Internet poll, which is currently topped by Ireland`s first woman minister Constance Markievicz.

Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen, tipped by many as Mr Ahern`s eventual successor, is the first current cabinet minister to feature, ranking fourteenth.

In second place is Sean Lemass, a founder member of Fianna Fail, elected Taoiseach in 1959, while hot on his heels is revolutionary leader General Michael Collins.

Visitors to the site can vote on which politicians are ``hot`` and which ones deserve their P45s.

After several thousand votes, Constance Markievicz, is just on top. The 1916 Easter Rising leader was the first woman elected to the House of Commons and was Minister of Labour in the first Dail.

But the contest for the top three places is close and can change several times a day.

Mr Ahern, who has slid to 59th place, lags behind some of his parliamentary rivals.

Enda Kenny, the leader of the main opposition party, Fine Gael, is at 28th and Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte is 39th.

Languishing at the foot of the table in 186th place is Dublin North TD G V Wright, who was caught drink-driving last year and recently admitted receiving a £10,000 payment from a property developer.

Irish entertainment site P45.net has been running the poll for the past month. It describes the vote as ``Ireland`s first international, online, ongoing and totally riggable general election``.

For rating purposes, the poll includes all current members of the Dail, all former presidents and Taoisigh, and other historical figures.

The poll works in ``real time``, meaning that some politicians can jump places in a matter of minutes.

As its organisers point out, unlike the Government`s new electronic voting system it doesn`t cost taxpayers £23million (33m euro).

Managing director Paul Clerkin insists that although it may appear to be just another superficial poll, he wants readers to rate the politicians on their ability ``not their charm or good looks.``

He said he wouldn`t be surprised if there were a few secret campaigns to push various politicians up the table in coming weeks.

``But in the in the long term it`ll probably be a case of swings and roundabouts,`` he added.

``We`ll be encouraging our users to vote early and vote often.``

The current top 10:

1 Constance Markievicz 2 Sean Lemass 3 Michael Collins 4 Douglas Hyde 5 Cearbhall Ë Dalaigh 6 Mary Robinson 7 RuairÝ Quinn 8 Garret FitzGerald 9 WT Cosgrave 10 John A Costello.

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