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Respect, populism, political theatrics: That motion of confidence in the Government debate…  March 30, 2023

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Does anyone think that Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar’s performative irritation at the temerity of the opposition in, well, opposing, has run out of road quite some time back. It was on display again during the debate on the motion of confidence yesterday. 

The Taoiseach defended the Coalition’s track record, saying it “led Ireland through the pandemic saving lives and livelihoods,” as well as secured a new Brexit deal and worked for solutions to the cost-of-living crisis.

Well, sure. But when Pat Leahy argues that the approach of the Coalition on the issue of housing is baffling (more on that later this morning) you know that all the FG rhetoric isn’t going to cut it.


Mr Varadkar said that he believes the housing crisis “cuts so deep” because it “offends our sense of fairness”.

“I admire and respect the passion, and indignation, shown by those trying to find solutions, whether in this House or outside of it,” he said.

“My only criticism of proceedings in this House is that, too often it allows critics of the Government to show passion and indignation without presenting new ideas, let alone having them tested.”

That’s a bit absurd. Whatever else the opposition has had numerous ideas, none of them in truth particularly new, but certainly different to those adopted by the government. And as always it’s back to SF.


He accused the opposition of providing no solutions to the housing crisis during today’s debate, adding that Sinn Féin had instead engaged in “a personalised diatribe towards the Minister for Housing”.

Interesting how FF and FG sought to turn the guns on Labour. Check this out:

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said he is used to planning objections from Sinn Féin, but warned the Labour Party – who he adds he has “a lot of regard for” – not “to go down that road”.

Which drew this response:


Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik roundly rejected Government criticism of her party, saying the Government has made a “disastrous” political choice, which is the wrong one in ending the eviction ban.

Ms Bacik said that Mr Varadkar has engaged in “some political theatrics” himself in spending more time attacking Labour than in setting out solutions.

“You just don’t have the answers. Your conservative coalition is just not working. It’s all spin and no substance,” she said.

The Government has overseen a “catastrophic failure” which is a “failure of ideology”, which is why she has no confidence in the Coalition.

“We are the only opposition party ever to have served in Government”, she added.

Ouch. Though is that the best tack to take – to remind people about government?

How about this?

Labour’s finance spokesperson Ged Nash accused Mr Varadkar of “entitlement” and “an arrogance born out of disrespect for the constitutional right of an opposition party to hold the Government to account”.

Interesting to see the parties (and some Independents) presenting a broad if not very cohesive front on this in the Dáil. Holly Cairns noted that whatever else this is now a permanent fixture politically. 


The public has lost confidence, and it “is not coming back”, she said, warning that there would be more motions of no confidence.

And Richard Boyd Barrett noted:


“Workers, pensioners sick people women, and worst of all children,” he told the Dáil chamber.

He said the Government is allowing it to happen and saying it is somehow justified.

The government will survive this. Of course it will. But. It looks awful for them. And it looks awful because it is awful. 

But there’s another angle to this. Note the push back from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil against the LP. It will be educative to see if this has any mild impact on relations between those parties. But then another lower key aspect was the attacks on Labour by Fianna Fáil TDs – attacking Labour’s record in government with the very same party FF is not in government with. Cognitive dissonance how are you?

Minister of State James Browne was another Government TD who spared the niceties with a strident attack on Labour. He ran through some of its rhetoric and promises when in Opposition pre 2011 and claimed: “You broke all your promises.”

Not that Fine Gael was behind in coming forward to attack:


Government Chief Whip Hildegard Naughton has followed with a cutting attack on the Labour Party saying: “I remember when the Labour Party stood for something.”

Then there’s another point. Clearly a good tranche of Independents will prop up the government, and this has implications the far side of an election too. So while FF and FG may collectively have a certain support in the polls, it’s probably as well to factor in 7% or even more of Independents support in polls on that side of the equation. In some ways we may well be getting a sneak preview of some of the dynamics of government formation after that next election.

Speaking of performative irritation shading into performative anger, Martin has been particular notable in that respect – doling out contempt for Sinn Féin, despite the fact that this was to no particular political effect whatsoever. 

Again, the question has to be asked, what did he think that the outcome of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement (signed when he was Minister in the then FF Cabinet for Education and Science) would lead to other than, at a minimum, Sinn Féin increasing its representation in Dáil Éireann to some degree or another?  



1. NFB - March 30, 2023

Think La


NFB - March 30, 2023

Sorry – Think current iteration of Labour would do well not to remind people they were in government…

Amazing to see FGFF take cuts off them for that period all the same. Kenny/Gilmore feels a long way away.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2023

I love the tone of injured condescension on the part of the FGers in particular.

Liked by 1 person

2. Gearóid Clár - March 30, 2023

Here’s my tinfoil-hat hot take for the day:

Granted, it was the LP who brought forward the no confidence motion yesterday, but it seemed a disproportionate amount of attack from government parties on them during the debate. Almost as if they’re keeping on eye further down the road and want to prop up the LP as the ‘real’ opposition in future and help reverse their declining support.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2023

I hadn’t thought of it in those terms GC, but it makes a certain sense. And it aligns with Labour’s own intentions (which in a sense of course they’d want to raise their profile). That said I wonder if some on the govt side do now wonder how the LP might jump in future in the context of an SF coalition offer. After all does anyone think the LP is really going to supplant other parties as the main voice of the opposition? Even they don’t!


irishelectionliterature - March 30, 2023

I reckon Labour will rule out going in with Sinn Féin, certainly elements in the party hate SF more than they do FG or FF.
Have had FF and FG folk rue the low ratings Labour are getting.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2023

I’d think likewise – Howlin was I think making noises but that I’d imagine is to keep transfers open. Agreed, the depth of hatred is sometimes near incomprehensible – though I guess SF supplanted their niche and then added massively to it.

Liked by 1 person

irishelectionliterature - March 30, 2023

There is a feeling amongst many in Labour that the attacks on them by the Left and Sinn Féin in 2014 and 2016 elections were over the top…. and that nobody appreciates the great job they did reigning in Fine Gael in the 2011 to 2016 period.

Liked by 1 person

6to5against - March 30, 2023

I imagine some of that hatred comes from their own personal journeys.
Many in the LP would have come into politics with broadly progressive/leftist principles. And for one reason or another they compromised – or rejected – almost every one of those principles as their careers progressed.
I imagine they struggle to listen to anybody who still espouses the idealism of their youth. Particularly when they believe that those now espousing such principles will inevitably make all the same compromises they made and that any argument to the contrary is performative.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2023

And of course to add to that 6to5, there’s the WP/DL mindset. Though oddly the most vehemently antagonistic Labour Party members I met are of a younger generation than that WP/DL crew and tend to have no connections to it. Indeed a number of WP/DL people went across to the SDs where to judge by that party there’d be a greater openness to working with SF.


Wes Ferry - March 30, 2023

Labour’s raison d’etre is to be the Dáil and council mudguard against the Shinners and any other barbarians of the Left.

Liked by 1 person

3. irishfabian+ - March 30, 2023

Gerrymandering Adams praising Labour leader speech last Saturday night.

Liked by 1 person

4. irishfabian+ - March 30, 2023

Sorry typo error Gerry Adams is what I meant


Gearóid Clár - March 30, 2023

Best typo I’ve seen in a long time 😀

Liked by 4 people

Fergal - March 30, 2023

However much Labour despise sf if the next govt. is a mish-mash of anybody but fg/ff… I’m willing to wager that labour will enter govt… with one minister and a minister for state!!!

Liked by 1 person

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