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The Chairman and dissident Fine Gael February 20, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

As Dr.Nightdub noted here, a entertaining report in the Independent at the weekend. It went as follows:

AMID growing discontent within the ranks of Fine Gael over the abortion issue, speculation is mounting that dissident members have been in talks with former Libertas leader Declan Ganley about forming a new party.

All this on foot of Lucinda Creighton’s well voiced opposition to legislation for X and John Bruton’s belief that any such legislation is ‘contrary to the Constitution’. In a way it’s useful to see how some in FG have tilted so sharply towards an anti-abortion position. The apple surely didn’t fall far from the political tree there. And yet what does Bruton base his assertion on? It would seem to be little more than a belief that his interpretation of language is the key – conveniently ignoring the role of the Supreme Court in determining the constitutionality of these matters. Indeed one has to wonder at his judgement when he uses the following line… “And, in any normal language, a risk is not equal to a certainty”. Normal language? This man once was Taoiseach.

Telling that both his successor as FG Taoiseach and one E. Gilmore should rebuff his thoughts and point to the basic point that ‘the Government would act within the Constitution in legislating to give effect to the Supreme Court judgment in the X case’.

Still, could this rip FG apart – or at least dislodge a tranche of FG TDs who would clamber aboard the Chairman’s wagon?

I can’t see it. I genuinely can’t. And not just because the article in the Independent quotes Ganley – in his most vague mode – and not one Fine Gael TD.

Mr Ganley said the abortion debate had the potential to be the issue that drives him back into politics.
“When you see huge promises being broken on ‘not one more cent to bondholders’ or on abortion, it puts it up there in the light that this needs to be addressed,” he said.
“There isn’t two weeks that go by that there isn’t some type of contact with somebody.
“There would be little point in doing it if you didn’t have heavy calibre individuals involved.
“I’m not interested in ever going out there and making a symbolic stand. You need top drawer people and that takes time.”

And where was the Chairman speaking from?

a pro-life meeting organised by the Life Institute in the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin,


[he] told activists that he was considering a return to politics.

Now fair enough, but the basic problem is this. Imagine for a moment – and yes, this is a bit of a stretch for most who read this site – that you happen to be a Fine Gael TD with pro-life views. Would it really make sense to join another party of untested provenance as distinct from remaining within Fine Gael and – and this is hardly being overly optimistic – having the opportunity to shape the form of abortion provision in the society, and better yet having the prospect at some future date of being able to overturn or constrain any legislation introduced by this government. Indeed let’s consider this from a slightly different angle. Pragmatically what is the best option for effecting change, being outside the tent with the Chairman and a band of pure but (politically) impotent Deputies of varying numbers, or being inside it in an actual governing party?

In a way this is an argument very familiar to those of us on the left, albeit dressed up in new clothes. But the reality that there’s little chance of a serious rupture in FG, or even a minor rupture (I’d be genuinely surprised if even one TD walked on the abortion issue), is one that is mirrored by the unlikelihood of a rupture in Labour, or the establishment of a new party to its left. There is no life beyond the party is not something that only applied to the orthodox CPs back in the day.


1. Dr. X - February 20, 2013

I see in a recent ish of the Pheonix that Herr McDowell is planning his comeback tour.

Ganley at least provides some comedy, McDowell. . . not so much.

They’re both equally sinister, though.


2. irishelectionliterature - February 20, 2013

On this issue I’m pretty sure some FG TD’s will break ranks, yes they’ll vote for all sorts of austerity measures without a moral qualm , but there is a certain ‘fanatascism’ for some about being Pro Life (as there is to a lesser degree on the pro choice side).
Lucinda Creighton is the most prominent as she is the most high profile, but there are a number of backbenchers who will find it hard to vote for this legislation and thats before you add in the promise Phil Hogan gave before the election.
Denis Naughten resigned over a pledge on a local hospital, for some in FG this is a far bigger issue. Also for many on the pro life side its a black and white issue and legislating for feeling Suicidal as a grounds for abortion is a step too far for some.
As for joining a new Ganley party, …. How FG handle any defections over abortion legislation will in part determine if any TDs jump into Ganleys arms. If some feel terribly betrayed by FGs behaviour over abortion and the subsequent disciplinary action over defying the whip they may be tempted.


doctorfive - February 20, 2013

One or two dissenters are likely especially now FF is pulling the other way but I think it will end up a Penrose style affair with no real sanctions and everyone being very understanding.

Can’t see Creighton walking out of the EU job in a million years and the rest of them have a reshuffle in Autumn to think about.


3. Tawdy - February 20, 2013

Here is my tuppence worth. If there is going to be any break I think it will come in a number of waves. When the dust settles after the local and EU elections wave no 1. In between and leading up to a general election will bring wave no 2. After the general election will bring the tsunami, something like what happened ff.

Of course whether a new party is setup before during or after these events remain to be seen. As will who will/would join said party. To my mind, if such a party was established it would be a PDs mark 2 type and all that that would entail. Very little hope for any of us. Even less hope for the people who would join such a party.


4. Gewerkschaftler - February 20, 2013

But it’s awfully crowded on the neo-liberal right, with or with out social ‘liberalism’. It will be mildly interesting to see if anything will fly after the demise of the PDs.

The FDP is in danger of collapsing below the 5% threshold in the coming Bundeselections in Germany. I’m not sure whether this is just that the CDU occupies all that space now as default or that support for rabid explicit neo-liberalism is declining.

Compare and contrast this huddle to the wide open spaces in the social-democratic part of the left spectrum.


5. Séamas Ó Sionnaigh (An Sionnach Fionn) - February 20, 2013

From the party that brought us emigration as a “choice of lifestyle” their selective compassion is incredible. As an Irish citizen you are free to f**k off out of the country and don’t be a “drain” on our state resources but God forbid that you have a choice in whether or not you become a parent (literally!). The sooner they form their right-wing, Christian fundamentalist Páirtí an Tae the better. At least the DUP will know who will be their potential coalition partners in a reunited Ireland!


6. Mark P - February 20, 2013

A core problem for the many and various new parties of the right that have been mooted, is that the issues which would supposedly act as a driving force are as divisive between the elements who would supposedly such a new party as they are in the present day parties of the right.

You could have a new party of the right based around a populist opposition to the bailouts etc, but that’s hardly going to appeal to many FG TDs, who all dutifully voted with the government and before that with their party on the bank guarantee etc.

Abortion might provide an impetus for some, but probably not those who would look towards a new PDs rather than a party based around social conservatism.


7. Dr. X - February 20, 2013

Is McDowell really uncomfortable with social conservatism, though? (genuine question)


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