A carnival of [overwrought and exaggerated] reactions… that talk of a Sinn Féin/Fine Gael lash-up… June 1, 2009Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
It’s the Bank Holiday. I’m on holiday, but I thought it worth noting rapidly the absurdity of some of the language we’ve heard this week during the elections. Or rather one very specific usage of language. Because, I was taken a little aback wandering through Dunnes Stores in Maynooth yesterday morning to see the cover of the Mail and read the headline that Fine Gael would ‘talk’ to Sinn Féin. But I was in a hurry and didn’t catch any details. Later I heard Enda Kenny had nixed such talk, but again I didn’t hear any further details.
So imagine my surprise when I read last night in the Irish Times that this wasn’t some local election candidate chatting off the top of his head but no less than the wisest of the wise, that Solomon of electoral skills, ‘top Fine Gael strategist’ Frank Flannery.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny today rubbished speculation the party was ready to agree a pact with Sinn Féin to oust the government.
The Opposition leader insisted there were no plans for a deal despite remarks from a top Fine Gael strategist that they would work with Gerry Adams.
Mr Kenny said he would speak with his national director of elections, Frank Flannery, about the comments reported in today’s Irish Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Since Kenny would merely have to cross a corridor, or whatever, you know what I’m saying, to ‘speak with’ Flannery this presumably has either happened or is about to.
But read on, a chairde…
“I made it perfectly clear that Fine Gael would not be doing business with Sinn Fein and I have no intention of revisiting that,” said Mr Kenny.
I’m certain that he means it today. But what of the day that the numbers come up in a certain configuration, what – for example – if Fine Gael received high, but not quite high enough numbers to form a government and the only other option in the face of a diminished Green Party was a baleful Labour Party with close to forty or even more seats. Would Fine Gael really want to divide the spoils of office with a party that has a history of demanding a certain level of participation up to and including a rotating Taoiseach? Although granted it never received said Taoiseach. Rotating or otherwise
But let’s put that aside, for it’s the sort of musings that only occur to politically interested observers like myself and…er… political strategists like… Frank Flannery.
The real nonsense, and this is saying something when it comes to the hate hate Fine Gael/Sinn Féin relationship, almost predictably, emanated from Fianna Fáil.
But Fianna Fail claimed Mr Flannery¿s remarks should be taken seriously.
Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said it was “stomach-churning” that the self-styled law and order party Fine Gael would consider entering a coalition with Sinn Féin.
‘Stomach churning’? I think our beloved Minister doth protest too much. After all, was it not his government that was more than happy to oversee something akin to a shot gun wedding of first Sinn Féin with the Ulster Unionist Party, and then when that led to a bitter and acrimonious divorce oversaw (chaperoned?) a subsequent ceremony with the Democratic Unionist Party. That has played hard on ensuring that this state has good relations – er, well, whatever – with the resulting union, an executive in the North which comprises of these supposedly ‘stomach-churning’ characters… who, by the by if I drag my Good Friday Agreement out of coldish storage could well be part of… and I quote…
NORTH/SOUTH MINISTERIAL COUNCIL
1. Under a new British/Irish Agreement dealing with the totality of relationships, and related legislation at Westminster and in the Oireachtas, a North/South Ministerial Council to be established to bring together those with executive responsibilities in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government, to develop consultation, co-operation and action within the island of Ireland
– including through implementation on an all-island and cross-border basis – on matters of mutual interest within the competence of the Administrations, North and South.
Burp… sickly feeling in stomach…
2. All Council decisions to be by agreement between the two sides. Northern Ireland to be represented by the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and any relevant Ministers, the Irish Government by the Taoiseach and relevant Ministers, all operating in accordance with the rules for democratic authority and accountability in force in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Oireachtas respectively. Participation in the Council to be one of the essential responsibilities attaching to relevant posts in the two Administrations. If a holder of a relevant post will not participate normally in the Council, the Taoiseach in the case of the Irish Government and the First and Deputy First Minister in the case of the Northern Ireland Administration to be able to make alternative arrangements.
Face turning green. Nausea.
3. The Council to meet in different formats:
(i) in plenary format twice a year, with Northern Ireland representation led by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and the Irish Government led by the Taoiseach;
(ii) in specific sectoral formats on a regular and frequent basis with each side represented by the appropriate Minister;
(iii) in an appropriate format to consider institutional or cross-sectoral matters (including in relation to the EU) and to resolve disagreement.
Reaching for the antacid…
And what about this?
11. The implementation bodies will have a clear operational remit. They will implement on an all-island and cross-border basis policies agreed in the Council.
12. Any further development of these arrangements to be by agreement in the Council and with the specific endorsement of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Oireachtas, subject to the extent of the competences and responsibility of the two Administrations.
All those… meetings… nausea increasing…
13. It is understood that the North/South Ministerial Council and the Northern Ireland Assembly are mutually inter-dependent, and that one cannot successfully function without the other.
Stomach churning… churning…
How will he survive through the establishment of free-standing mutually inter-dependent bodies? How would any of us?
Although Ahern, to be fair to him – kind of sort of, does raise a point, and not a bad one either…
“Frank Flannery isn’t some unimportant official,” he said.
No he’s not… so what is he precisely?
“He is the architect and conductor of all Fine Gael strategy under Enda Kenny.
“He never says anything in public which hasn’t been prepared well in advance as part of a clear blueprint.”
Well, I’d beg to differ given his comments this weekend, but…what did the hapless strategist say?
Mr Flannery is quoted as saying Sinn Féin had moved fully into the mainstream and that Fine Gael was willing to work with them.
So… that said and in the public domain, let us reveal this weeks barrier to the supposedly ‘mainstream’ party…
But the close advisor to Mr Kenny also said there were outstanding issues like “their private army” and a resistance by some candidates to condemn the murder of Garda Jerry McCabe.
Mr Kenny said the remarks were a personal opinion that had nothing to do with Fine Gael policy.
While he highlighted the International Monitoring Committee’s verdict that Sinn Féin have cast aside violence, the Fine Gael leader said a political deal was not on the table.
“They have an army council so I don’t intend to revisit the issue,” he said.
What on earth does that mean?
Unless… unless… it’s all a not entirely clever ploy to try to prise transfers from SF voters…
Nah, even I don’t believe that. And not even ‘the architect and conductor of all Fine Gael strategy’ could make me do so…
Happy holiday, as they say… somewhere or another…