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Acts of contrition November 29, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael made a right dogs dinner of the last week or so. Fine Gael on balance more so, but Fianna Fáil didn’t cover themselves in glory. And SF who moved the confidence motion process in the first place (though found themselves outflanked by FF) can only reap limited rewards.

First up Fine Gael whose bloodyminded obduracy in all this was a sight to behold. Leo Varadkar today is a very different Leo Varadkar from two weeks ago. All he had to do was to keep in mind that toughing it out – when the material circumstances are so fractious and the person he is toughing it out for is being somewhat circumspect as to pertinent aspects of the situation – is never a good move. And yet on he went. As did others in FG. It says nothing good about his judgement and potentially knocks support away from that party just when matters were on the up. It was a very contrite Taoiseach we saw yesterday afternoon at Leader’s Questions/

Worse still is the sense that had the latest batch of emails not come out we might be facing into an election over this. That’s not a good perception.

But then that is precisely the perception in relation to FF. That they were willing to go to the wire and across it over this issue. With an electorate gazing in bafflement and increasing anger at the likelihood of an election at Christmas (and so relatively early in this government and its leader’s tenure) that is something that will I suspect dog it on the doorsteps. Granted this is a political win for them – a Tánaiste. And that too will have implications. But…

It would be slightly unfair to say that everyone else was irrelevant in this, but they largely were. In a way what was notable was how conspicuous by their absence other voices were – a function in part of much of this happening over the weekend.

I’d been dubious that an election would be called from the off. Frankly the temperatures both daytime and nighttime struck me as far too cold for any snap campaign. Don’t laugh, that’s a factor, not least in terms of weighing up whether it is sensible to arrive at voters doors. But also there seemed to be too much positioning and assuming poses in all this on all sides. Unedifying, but there we have it. Which isn’t to say the Tánaiste was wrong to resign. Anything but. Her position was arguably untenable from the middle of last week. That it took so long for that to sink in for her and her colleagues tells us something very interesting about Fine Gael as is.

And what of the future? The polls – the most recent one anyhow, had already showed a reversal of fortune for FG and FF. I wonder is this a watershed moment for them where they jumped too soon and too fast without heed for the consequences. It really does raise the question what on earth was Varadkar in particular thinking, but also Martin. This from RTÉ is telling:

A senior Fianna Fail TD said that his party was not wholly certain of its ground last Thursday ahead of demanding the Tánaiste’s resignation.
“We had a hunch that Alan Kelly had a very good ‘mole’ and that more would come out.” But there was no certainty about that.
There was a view that Leo Varadkar performed well on the Six One News on Friday night and set out a plausible event. However, the outcome of the full trawl of documents was a game-changer, according to everybody.

It’s all a bit wing and a prayer isn’t it?

By the by, how does this affect government formation in future? Can’t see many Christmas cards heading AK’s way from FG. And while the point was made on RTÉ that the current arrangement is not a function of trust between FG and FF but rather expedience it can’t have helped. And within the coalition – such as it is, clearly the IA’s withdrawal of support for the Tánaiste was key too. How does that affect matters?

And yet, and yet, if those polls remain low it is very difficult – for all the hot air from some FGers about campaigns changing party support – to see a break for the country immediately. Whose interest is it in if the situation on foot of this crisis leads to even worse outcomes than those pointed to by Adrian Kavanagh’s projections.

Mary Lou McDonald argued that the confidence and supply arrangement was a ‘sham’ and there’d be an election soon. But what if the electorate don’t particularly want an election? They certainly don’t seem to to judge from all reports. And why would that change substantially in April or May?

Does it become a case that unloved and unlovely this arrangement totters on for months, perhaps a year or so, simply because there is no great alternative? And for all the talk that confidence and supply is over if there is no alternative – indeed even the prospect of same old same old after another near future election what happens to Irish politics. The most immediate response in that regard short minutes after the resignation was this and it suggests that this is not the GP prior to early 2011 walking away leaving FF hanging in the air:

Fianna Fail’s finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has said the confidence and supply agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine  Gael remains in place even though it has  been stretched “to the boundaries”.
He said the Tánaiste’s resignation has not been confirmed to him, but it looks like her departure is immient and therefore  the motion of no confidence will not proceed.

Well, he’s right. But the politics may be wrong. We’ll see. Though perhaps the tweet on the RTÉ thread directly after was the most telling and points to the immediate future.

Fiach Kelly‏Verified account @fiachkelly

What betting on Simon Coveney for Tánaiste and Josepha Madigan for Cabinet?
4:01 AM – 28 Nov 2017

Life, political life, goes on. Some will count it better to be at the Cabinet table than pounding the streets just before or just after Christmas. Strike that – some will always count it better to be at the Cabinet table at any given time.

David Cullinane perhaps struck the most important note in coverage after the resignation, that at heart this is about a citizen who was suffered the accusation of ‘a vicious lie, the most vicious lie’ and that the state or state entities appear to have been involved in this. That’s what has to be remembered in all this.


1. Alibaba - November 29, 2017

Last paragraph: bang on. Bad enough the rotten ripeness in the Dept of Justice. It has always been there, but newly and relentlessly exposed by the sterling efforts of Maurice McCabe. You would need the whole brass section of an orchestra for the many whistles that need blowing now. And the Left should be hollering about this surely.


WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2017

It is genuinely disturbing though not shocking how much effort was expended on dissing McCabe


2. irishelectionliterature - November 29, 2017

Whilst the parties are gearing up for an election early next year I have a feeling that FF won’t pull the plug for another few months yet. I suspect they don’t want to be in Government for an Abortion Referendum, nor do they want to be in charge for this period of the Brexit negotiations.
Re an election I think the same dynamic will be there unless there is drastic change in the polls. That is an election followed by no obvious government and having to ask for support from FG or vice versa.


WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2017

Very much agree – unless polls change what is in it for them?


3. GW - November 29, 2017

“the person he is toughing it out for is being somewhat circumspect as to pertinent aspects of the situation”.

:-). You are a loss to the diplomatic corps, WBS. I’ll steal that.


4. sonofstan - November 29, 2017

Had a conversation last night with a friend who was surprisingly enthused by Leo – until yesterday. I think that reaction might be widespread.


Joe - November 29, 2017

Yeah. You’d have to say Leo is the one who made the biggest dog’s dinner of it all. Quite damaged within his own party and very early in his tenure as leader for that to have happened.

The other thing is how this all blew up so quickly and unexpectedly. We can make all the predictions we like but events, dear boy, events.


5. Alibaba - November 29, 2017

Varadkar came across well in interviews, pleading the case for a measured response, when we have all the facts, and taking into consideration due process. Then he stated repeatedly that Fitzgerald “did nothing wrong” and she “will be vindicated” before the Tribunal even considers it, never mind delivers its judgement. These sound bites will haunt him (and hopefully the others who dutifully mouthed them). The idiocy, arrogance, irresponsibility, hubris and incompetence of Varadkar – take your pick. As sonofstan has noticed rightly, people do.

Liked by 1 person

dublinstreams - November 29, 2017

She may well be vindicated in her non-actions/non-interference by the Tribunal doesn’t mean she didn’t do wrong by not telling the Dail or the Tribunal that she/dept knew of the Commisioners legal strategy.


Shea - November 29, 2017

If she said she did know, and now she has, is next point of focus back to the gardai whose testimony would have been the basis of that strategy?

On a personal level fair enough commanding officers and senior politicians saying one thing to Ccabes face and another behind his back has been caught out but the gaping hole is still the gardai who were prepared to lie on the stand. Are they still in their jobs, how many times have they been involved in prosecutions since this happened?


Shea - November 29, 2017

If she said she did know, and now she has, is next point of focus back to the gardai whose testimony would have been the basis of that strategy?

On a personal level fair enough commanding officers and senior politicians saying one thing to Ccabes face and another behind his back has been caught out but the gaping hole is still the gardai who were prepared to lie on the stand. Are they still in their jobs, how many times have they been involved in prosecutions since this happened?


6. dublinstreams - November 29, 2017

You first quote is from Harry McGee? https://liveblog.irishtimes.com/17d1445548/Frances-Fitzgerald-to-resign/

It seems to be based on the idea that some believed that Fitzgerald may have forgotten and there wasn’t enough in the first email to show that she/dept knew, which I don’t buy, do you? There was nothing particularily new in the ‘Mondays emails’ bar more confirmation, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to FG or FF. FG was just sticking to its own BS.

I think Fianna Fail was shown to be correct all along where most criticism for FF will be in their collusion to clamp down on this controversy, egg agreeing to review of the DOJ to allow Flanagan to avoid answring questions about it. People were wondering whether FF would have to back down but it turns out that Martin was given a summary of the ‘Monday emails’ on Saturday afaik unbeknownst to all backbench TDs. We still don’t know what FF and FG we’re talking about over the 4 days, yesterdays brief announcements about DOJ reviews don’t account for it


irishelectionliterature - November 29, 2017

I would have thought that FF would have someone in the dept leaking to them (not just leaking to Alan Kelly). Reckon they wanted to see if there was anything else and waited for the emails to come into the public domain to gauge the public and political reaction. They were probably waiting too to hear what the reaction was down the country to a prospective election.
I assume they didn’t go for Flanagan as they got their head on a plate in Fitzgerald but know that in the not too distant future they could be looking at FG for a C&S agreement.


dublinstreams - November 29, 2017

Did FF need to be told there shouldn’t be an winter election??? The full email sent to Broadsheet could have come from FF. Jim O’Callaghan had already had disagreements with Fitzgerald, SF gave her chance to explain herself, she didn’t, the Motion wasn’t till Tuesday, they had the time to search the records, the crisis was almostly entirely of FG’s making. The sense of crisis was exercabated by the FF/FG silence over the weekend even though the DOJ knew by Friday what they had and it just confirmed that Fitzgerald knew.


WorldbyStorm - November 29, 2017

Good question DS. On a slight tangent I was talking to someone today who suggested that LV wanted an election all along and that was why he didn’t mention knowing about the emails by Friday because he wanted FF to push the button. But my problem with that analysis is that he couldn’t possibly prevent them from coming to light or at the least couldn’t be sure that they wouldn’t. And in any event he couldn’t either be sure he wouldn’t (as he has) shipped a fair bit of collateral damage.


7. Tomboktu - November 29, 2017

Although I’ve not studies much sociology, over the years, I’ve come across articles where the researchers have gone into an organisation to look at how it works and functions, what it’s culture is like, etc., and I’ve also come across papers and reports for business and management that have been based on looking at the inner workings of firms.

But I’ve never come across anybody refer to an in-depth study or research project of an Irish government department. I know yer man Jim something did do interviews about the presidency for his PhD thesis that landed Brian Lenihan in trouble when he ran for president, but nothing about the day-to-day operations, the life, the decisions, and the culture of any of the departments of state.

The Toland report is the nearest to that kind of study, but it was driven by the need to fix a problem and the key personnel were under pressure, so it wasn’t the kind of disinterested (and time-delayed) exercise that is typical for the academic/scholarly research that I’m thinking of.

Except when there is a scandal, they are black holes to us.


dublinstreams - November 29, 2017

you nearly got your indepth explaination from Flanagan last night as he filiblustered https://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2017-11-28a.424&s=submission#g426


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