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An election, yes. But when? June 29, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Noel Whelan notes that this last week Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar were locked in battle in the Dáil over the former attorney-general’s appointment to the Court of Appeal. And arguably Varadkar came out of it better – if only because Martin personalised the issue in a somewhat unwise fashion. 

As Whelan colourfully notes:

Martin and Varadkar are now involved in a struggle for dominance. There will be much roaring and pawing of the ground between now and the next election. If they both insist on standing their ground it will all escalate to full electoral conflict sooner rather than later.

And like Stephen Collins the same week he waves the issue through fairly sharply. Hardly surprising, neither FF nor FG can stand on any moral high ground in relation to the processes detailed.

But Whelan does have a very good point which is that:

The personalised nature of the some of the criticisms of the newly-appointed Court of Appeal judge was also disappointing. This growing tendency to attack or disparage persons who are not in the House or who are otherwise not in a position to defend themselves further diminishes our legislature. It amounts effectively to parliamentary trolling. It reflects an increased aggressiveness in public debate generally and a pandering to populism.

I’m not sure it is pandering to populism – he himself notes that:

The big issues of housing, mental-health services, the health services generally and the Brexit threat all play second fiddle to political theatre, this time about a judicial appointment already made.

I think a deeper problem is a belief that this sort of issue has a political traction that those others do not in terms of oppositional (and government) politics. In other words it won’t be Brexit or even the health services, that bring down this government but an issue like appointments or what have one.

And therefore much greater emphasis is placed on them than otherwise would be the case.

Frankly I’m dubious about his other thought on this:

The fact that Whelan’s appointment to the Court of Appeal is only the second judicial appointment made in 20 years outside the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board process makes it politically controversial but does not make it legally unsound.

Given that the thrust has been to greater transparency in appointments even if it is not legally unsound it would be reasonable to say it was politically questionable and therefore the old line of ‘better not’ would come into play.

That FF was unable to use this effectively says more about FF than about the issue itself.

And just on that election, well, that’s been raised in an earlier post today, but perhaps this does bring that closer. But for all the talk about how static Irish politics is that in itself presents a problem. Without some shift, some change, that is clear and sustained, there’s no percentage in anyone taking any risks. Indeed after the last two years – Brexit, Trump, Corbyn, and so on who would bet everything on a throw of the dice? Or that a poll that is positive today is going to translate into actual votes three weeks down the line.

Is Varadkar of a mind to take that sort of a risk just now?

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Comments»

1. Joe - June 29, 2017

I’d say Martin could come under increasing pressure internally in FF. The longer they stay propping up this government the weaker and more useless they look. That jibe about marching up to the top of the hill is spot on.
So Martin’s internal critics, who being FFers just hate having their noses rubbed in it by FG, will be pushing him to stick it to the blueshirts and force an election. But he can’t do it until the right ‘issue’ comes up. And if it doesn’t come up, he and they look weaker and weaker.
It’d be all great stuff if somehow some left force could benefit from it. But the polls are stuck on that too.

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2. dublinstreams - June 29, 2017

And why is Whelan otherwise not in a position to defend herselve further… because she has just been made a judge!

Notice how Whelan doesn’t criticise Martin specifically for his ‘shes no Jack Kennedy line’, but spreads it out to smaller parties, blaming the other parties for his mistake.

“I think a deeper problem is a belief that this sort of issue has a political traction that those others do not” who belives this ?

We’ll see if issue with legislation get ironed out the water thing the judicial bill, the extra week, speaking and legislation time, will the coalition government choose to function.

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3. Aengus Millen - June 29, 2017

I actually disagree slightly on Whelan’s point about criticizing people not in the Dail. I worry he may be referring to the “attacks” (read justified criticisms) of people like Denis O’Brien and the Garda Commissioner which some want to claim are unfair because they are not in the Dail but which are actually only said in the Dail because it is the one place where Ireland’s crazy defamations laws don’t reach. There may be an individual case where he is right about this but I think anything that tends to limit the scope of speech of TD’s is probably a bad thing.

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