The Christian Solidarity Party, 1997 - 2011

While the Christian Centrist Party did not fare well in 1992, this did not stop Catholic politics from growing in Ireland. Many of the former party's members went on to found a new party, the Christian Solidarity Party. They would prepare to contest the next general election which would see a number of other Christian parties involved - the National Party and Muintir na hÉireann supplementing the CSP along with a number of independent candidates.

The CSP took a similar line to the main Opposition party, Fianna Fáil, in claiming that the Rainbow Coalition government had failed to crack down on crime and to stem the drug problem. They took an additional line of criticism that each of the parties which had been in government over the last ten years - Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, the Progressive Democrats and Democratic Left - had pursued "anti-social and anti-family" policies. The party situated itself as representing a Christian vision which would extend to the next millenium, one which focused on Life, the Family and the Community - issues which would become most prominent in Catholic politics in the coming years.

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The CSP ran seven candidates in 1997. As with the Centrist Party five years earlier, the party failed to make any significant advance, and was large ignored in favour of the bigger parties. The best result in 1997 was in Dún Laoghaire, where the party leader Dr. Geard Casey won 3.7% of the vote.

Unlike its predecessor party, the CSP did not fold up after 1997, and went on to contest the next general election in 2002, with a record 19 candidates. As was best evidenced by the poor result returned by Fine Gael, however, this election was not a good one for any party which wasn't the government. The CSP polled quite badly across all 19 constituencies, securing only a handful of votes in several and only managing 1% or more of the vote in three constituencies.

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Still undeterred, the party ran in 2007 with a reduced total of eight candidates, though this outing was in fact worse than 2002, as the highest-voted candidate was Paul O'Loughlin in Dublin Central, with just 0.8% of the vote. In 2011, the party concentrated on the urban areas of Dublin, Cork and Limerick, as well as Meath West. By this time, however, the CSP had long lost the novelty it enjoyed in 1997, and was not regarded as a serious contender in any constituency.

The party continues to exist, and will no doubt contest future elections on a Christian values platform. In the increasingly secular Ireland of today, however, the chances of the CSP making any real gains in the future are somewhat slim. Nevertheless, Catholic politics remain strong in Ireland as far as certain issues are concerned. The renewed debate on abortion in 2012 has inspired the Catholic Youth Defence and a similar campaign group, Cóir, to campaign against the issue. These groups had likewise been active in opposing the Lisbon referenda of 2008 and 2009. The current leader of Cóir, Richard Greene (formerly of the Green Party and Muintir na hÉireann) now also leads the CSP. What this means for the party founded to create a Christian vision for the next millenium is for the future to tell.