Eight things to note in Irish (and world) politics in 2023

World of Politics with Harry McGee

  1. The Dual Taoiseach Experiment worked better than was predicted.

We have almost forgotten that this was the first time we ever had a Government where the top job was shared. Dick Spring and Eamon Gilmore had suggested it before when it looked like Labour would almost get as many seats as Fine Gael. But they were never close enough.

There were doubts as to how it would work. It took Micheál Martin a long while to get going as Taoiseach – he started during the middle of Covid so there was never going to be a honeymoon period) – but he grew into it.

Some commentators and TDs in the party thought that the demotion to Tánaiste would result in a dip of profile for him and a dip in support for the party. There was some nervousness in Fine Gael as to how Leo Varadkar would fare a second time around as Taoiseach.

The transition was seamless. Martin’s profile and support levels have remained high. Varadkar has shown his strengths as Taoiseach in his stance on Israel, and also on issues that are set to dominate domestic politics in 2024, immigration and those seeking asylum.

  1. Predictions that Micheál Martin would be replaced in 2023 were also wide of the mark.

If you go back to the start of 2022, many Fianna Fáil TDs said that Micheál Martin would be gone by the start of 2023. Then they said he would probably be Tánaiste for a while but that he would be gone before the beginning of 2024. Not only is he not gone but all of his internal rivals have either disappeared or retreated from view.

The likelihood now is that he will lead Fianna Fáil into the next general elections. He believes – it’s too early to say if there is a basis for it – that he could be Taoiseach again. But the probability is only if he shares with Mary Lou.

Pictured: Changing places… switch between Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin worked better than predicted.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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