Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Political World

Don’t outstay welcome in the corridors of power

Avatar

Published

on

Renewed rivalries...Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin during the TG4 leaders’ debate last time out.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Lesson one from the world of modern democracy is this; if you are looking good for a third successive term in office, then engineer a scandal or a crisis – basically anything to collapse support for the government.

Because losing once is the key – if you don’t, people will just get tired of you being a tired government.  The net result will the same. Everything will come to a shuddering halt.

If Fianna Fáil had lost the 2007 election, the likelihood is that they would have returned to power in 2011 or 2012 and would be the outgoing government now.

They would have taken over when the economy was at its lowest ebb, succeeded in deflecting most of the blame onto hapless Fine Gael and Labour, and would now be presiding over a burgeoning economy and a second term in power.

Instead, the party stayed too long at the table, and took one bet too many. The party with the most chips went ‘all in’ and lost heavily and allowed Fine Gael cruise through and take over its mantel.

Now we have an extraordinary situation where Fine Gael is now seen as the natural party of Government and Fianna Fáil is struggling to remain relevant.

There’s still two months to go to the general election and it’s already shaping up to an election where Fine Gael will be out on its own with 25 to 35 seats to spare over its nearest rival, which will be Fianna Fáil.

At this moment on time, my guess is that Fine Gael could win 65 seats. Fianna Fail will be aiming for 40 on a good day but 35 may be a realistic aim.

Labour will go in to the election with over 30 seats and come back with half of that or less. I think the party will have done enough to win ten and may even win 15.

Sinn Féin is harder to guess. A few months ago I would have said 30. But the combination of things have pushed it back. There was Mairia Cahill’s one-woman campaign against the party. Other legacy issues also cropped up.

Its less-than-clever alliance with Syriza also pushed its ambitions back once the Greek party capitulated. It will get 20 seats easily and probably 25 – but getting 30 seats might now be a bit of a push.

So that brings us to about 135 and 140. My guess is that about 25 seats will go to Independents and non-aligned TDs, less than the one per constituency that once seemed possible.

I haven’t been too prescriptive. In all honesty, many of the final seats in the election will be decided by a sliver and you would need to have the combined powers of Nostradamus and Old Moore’s Almanac to divine how they are going to turn out.

Secondly, there is still two months to go and a lot can happen. Fine Gael might continue to gather momentum and come close to an overall majority. But then votes might get cold feet at the notion of that and vote tactically for another party.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Schools plan overshadowed by row over Ministerial pay

Avatar

Published

on

Education Minister Norma Foley...busy week on road to recovery.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

The good; the bad; the clever; the stupid – we’re going to get the full mixed bag during this Government’s term. But the past week was a cocktail of sublime and ridiculous.  First up was the dog’s dinner – otherwise known as the row over ministerial pay. There’s nothing that irks people more about politicians than stories about them earning more money. The perception is they are feathering their own nests.

The trigger was the presence of three super junior ministers in the Government, one from each of the three parties – all of them at the Cabinet table but with one crucial difference; they don’t have the right to vote.

The last Government also had three super juniors. But the legislation only allowed for two of them to have the salary of a senior minister – a difference of just over €16,300 from a junior.

When Leo Varadkar was appointed Taoiseach in 2017, he dropped Mary Mitchell-O’Connor as a senior minister. As compensation, a new super junior ministry was created.

But when it came to trying to bump her salary up by €16,000 to the same as the other two super juniors, Fianna Fáil just wouldn’t buy it. Mitchell-O’Connor got an extra stripe on the uniform, but no extra pay.

This time around, there was no such problem. The three government parties have a majority and agreed unanimously to right that injustice, so the third minister would get the extra €16,000.

The problem was that it needed to be legislated. It was tacked on as an amendment to the legislation setting up the new senior ministry of Higher Education – except the Government didn’t bother to tell anyone.

So, when the press found out about it, they unsportingly went to town on it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Odds already lengthening on Coalition lasting full course

Avatar

Published

on

Euro money...Micheal Martin in Brussels this week.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Barry Cowen’s departure is proof yet again that, when a politician is under the cosh, what often does for them is the original transgression – aided by new information. When they are hanging on by a knife-edge, even the slightest new controversy will topple them.

Most of the time, when people look at it afterwards, they realise the new information did not stand up to scrutiny. But it doesn’t matter about the substance. It’s all about timing.

In a few months’ time, the Garda internal inquiry might vindicate him (to some extent) in his claim he did not try to avoid a Garda checkpoint. But by that time, politically, it will be water under the bridge. Everything will have moved on.

What’s clear already is it’s going to be a rough ride. By the time you read this, the Green Party leadership contest will be in its final throes.

In a way it’s a replay of the debate about going into government and the vast majority of those who voted NO will vote for Catherine Martin. But the contest won’t be as lopsided as that.

Few people believe she can oust Ryan. But on a lowish turnout, she could possibly run him close. A win is a win – but if the margin is narrow, it might plant the seed of doubts as to whether or not Ryan can survive the entire term in government.

Is the Government going to last five years? That’s very difficult to know.

It has a majority of only four in the Dáil and three of the Greens voted against going into government. We have seen it already – Opposition parties tabling motions or amendments (last week it was on maternity leave, and on rights for low-paid workers) designed to embarrass the Green and put pressure on their TDs.

With Sinn Féin as main Opposition, you can bet the house that they will continuously pummel the smallest of the three Government parties on issues close to its soul, but which they had to sacrifice to the other two parties.

And while some aspects of the economy are ramping up again, everybody knows that everything is just stuttering about.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Cowen claming up left so little room for manoeuvre

Avatar

Published

on

Brian Cowen...too many unanswered questions.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Just when things were beginning to settle down. The Government had been formed. The Ministers had been appointed, followed by a bit of commotion in the backbenches. Only speed-bump on the potential horizon was the Green Party’s leadership contest.

And then new Minister for Agriculture Barry Cowen was outed over a three-month ban he received in 2016.

He was coming home from the All-Ireland, driving with a provisional licence. If he had had a full licence he would not have been banned. But because it was a learner permit, he got his three months.

It was administrative, he did not have to go to court. He also paid a fine of €200.

Cowen made a profuse apology in the Dáil where he said he viewed the incident with profound regret and shame and should have mentioned it to his leader Micheál Martin at the time.

That seemed to be that, more or less. There was some complaints he had not explained why he was on a learner’s permit after so many year’s driving. But those could be ironed out.

Then the story took on a different complexion when the Sunday Times reported that Cowen had tried to evade the Garda checkpoint by doing a u-turn and there had been a pursuit. The report was based on the Pulse record of the incident.

Cowen strongly disputed this, asking for the record to be corrected – which is why it has ended up that the Garda Ombudsman opened an investigation.

The information was personal and should not have been leaked. But it was. And once out, the political reality was that Cowen now needed to deal with ‘the facts on the ground’ – that an official Garda report alleged he tried to avoid a Garda checkpoint.

The implications of this were, naturally, serious. Contravening an order by a Garda to stop your vehicle is an offence under the Road Traffic Acts and is arguably as serious an offence – if not more serious – than being slightly over the blood alcohol limit.

The Opposition called for him to make a second statement and answer questions in the Dáil. There were calls too from the Greens for more clarity. Cowen took a decision on Monday, under legal advice, not to say anymore and he cleaved to it.

It seemed that that particular ploy might work. In a Morning Ireland interview on Tuesday, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar seemed to accept that it was now being investigated by the Garda Ombudsman and they would have to await the outcome of that before any further action was taken.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Advertisement

Weather

Weather Icon
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending