Make us victorious Lord, but not yet… February 22, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
I kind of admire – if that’s the right word – the way Noel Whelan lays it on the line in terms of the potential collapse of the government and the implications for FF, in the IT last week. He argues that:
Constructed as it was on three fault lines, the current Government was always going to be susceptible to dramatic shifts in the political landscape. This week’s policing and political earthquakes caused the Government to wobble violently. The aftershocks may yet cause it to collapse.
The three vulnerable relationships on which the Government depends have all come under severe strain in the last seven days.
Fine Gael’s relationship with the Independent Ministers has been badly damaged. Katherine Zappone has been among those most loyal to Enda Kenny in the current Government. The Taoiseach did her a great disservice in her absence last weekend when he claimed that she had not apprised him of the fact that she had spoken to Maurice McCabe about a Tusla file.
The weakness of Fine Gael’s relationship with other Independent Ministers in the Coalition was further exposed when the Government had to agree to something called “an external independent audit of An Garda Síochána”. This allowed Shane Ross and his Independent Alliance to claim some influence. It is not clear how this “external audit” will line up in the squadron of outside bodies that already exist to oversee policing.
And (one suspects most importantly!):
The relationship between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is also damaged. Fianna Fáil is the author of the uncomfortable position it found itself in this week. Straddling Opposition and Government in the way the confidence and supply relationship requires it to do was always going to get sore.
This week it was particularly painful for Fianna Fáil frontbenchers to have to explain how the party would not vote no confidence in the Government while at the same time strongly criticising the same Government for its shambolic handling of the McCabe fallout. The Government had enough support from Independents to enable Fianna Fáil to abstain rather than having to actually vote confidence on the motion.
And Whelan points to an interesting paradox on foot of the events of the last week and more:
Fianna Fáil’s hold over the minority Government may now actually have loosened. Having saved it on the McCabe issue this week, it will be more difficult for the party to threaten to pull the plug on a less significant crisis in future.
In other words this has upped the ante significantly… for Fianna Fáil to withdraw support will require something considerably worse again. I suppose one key aspect of the issue was that Fine Gael and the government was able to
contain its impact on them. Yes, the timeline of comments made, who said what and when, was problematic, but stories aligned sharply enough to fend of criticism and the requirements of FF and the IA and others in relation to the ultimate shape of the dispensation were arrived at in such a way that they couldn’t – whatever faith one holds in the eventual outcomes – complain too much.