Cookies on Dublin People website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. We also use cookies to ensure we show you advertising that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Dublin People website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time by amending your browser settings.
How does Dublin People use cookies?
Cookies enable us to identify your device, or you when you have logged in. We use cookies that are strictly necessary to enable you to move around the site or to provide certain basic features. We use cookies to enhance the functionality of the website by storing your preferences, for example. We also use cookies to help us to improve the performance of our website to provide you with a better user experience.
We dont sell the information collected by cookies, nor do we disclose the information to third parties, except where required by law (for example to government bodies and law enforcement agencies).
Hide Message
  • News

COMMENT: Election threat has damaged Irish politics

Monday, 4th December, 2017 7:59am

Story by Tony McCullagh
COMMENT: Election threat has damaged Irish politics

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

COMMENT: Election threat has damaged Irish politics

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

ISN’T democracy great? Only in Ireland could a minister resign in the morning and then be selected that very evening to contest the next general election.

Of course, Frances Fitzgerald is well within her rights to put her name forward at a convention and the good Fine Gaelers in Dublin Mid West are equally entitled to put her on the ticket as they see fit. The timing just seemed a bit odd.

I imagine that Deputy Fitzgerald wouldn’t have savoured the prospect of knocking on constituents’ doors had her continuation in office precipitated a pre-Christmas election that nobody wanted. She will be hoping for a fade factor and a bit of breathing space between until the real polling day now that the phony war is over.

By that time, there will probably be fresh controversies and new calls for more ministerial heads on plates. Politicians are learning to their cost that they are only one tweet or email away from being shown the door. They need to stop putting their digital footprints in their mouths.

Irish politics is all the poorer for the Fitzgerald debacle. The unedifying behaviour of some Fianna Fáil TDs, as they loudly cheered Jim O’Callaghan’s ‘Six One News’ declaration that the party had no confidence in the former Tánaiste, was nothing short of vulgar Dáil barstool bravado.

Leo Varadkar’s tough-guy stance in refusing to throw his Justice Minister under the bus began to wear thin after a few days, particularly when new emails emerged that made Fitzgerald’s resignation all but inevitable. It was the first real test of his mettle as Taoiseach and his judgement has been called into question by some.

For all the rhetoric about keeping the Government afloat for the sake of Brexit, the reality is that neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael wanted to face the electorate. This wasn’t about doing what was right for the country; it was a blatant exercise in self-preservation. 

You could sense a cooling of heads after a weekend poll showed that there would be no major change in the political landscape if an immediate general election took place. Likewise, the Independent Alliance had everything to lose by going to the polls so early into their nascent ministerial careers and they predictably urged all sides to pull back from the brink.

Sinn Féin seemed the most relaxed about an election being triggered by their no confidence motion and Mary Lou McDonald must be relishing the prospect of being the pivotal party figure in a post-Gerry Adams world.

Our politicians flexed their muscles but backed down when they took the public temperature, which – a bit like December – was subzero. Some people I spoke to said they wouldn’t have bothered voting had a snap election been called. The cold weather, combined with voter apathy, could have resulted in one of the worst election turnouts in history.

In the cacophony of all the petty bickering, the scandalous treatment of whistleblower Maurice McCabe was almost lost on us. 

In addition, the death of two homeless people on the streets of our capital last week should also have helped concentrate minds on Kildare Street in terms of where political priorities should lie.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here