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COMMENT: A case of more of the same for 2019

Monday, 17th December, 2018 7:59am

Story by Tony McCullagh
COMMENT: A case of more of the same for 2019

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been given an extended run by Fianna Fáil. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

COMMENT: A case of more of the same for 2019

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been given an extended run by Fianna Fáil. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

WITH the renewal of the confidence and supply agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, it looks like it’s going to be a case of more of the same for 2019.

The Soldiers of Destiny were quick to defend their ongoing support for Leo Varadkar’s minority government last week, with predictable clichés about ‘flying the flag for Ireland’ and ‘wearing the green jersey’ being bandied about ad nauseam. In fairness, though, Micheál Martin does sincerity very well and - cynicism aside – it’s hard to doubt his bona fides about doing the right thing for the country in the face of all the Brexit uncertainty.

So, no general election in 2019 after all. In the meantime, all the political parties and Independents will have a chance to take the electorate’s temperature next year in the European and Local Elections. The good news for incoming councillors is that they could be set for a pay rise if a review of their remuneration goes their way.

2018 will be seen as a year of mixed fortunes for the Government. The perennial twin crises of housing and health continued to dominate, reaching its nadir with the CervicalCheck scandal. As the scale of the mess unfolded, it quickly took the sheen off the outcome of the Yes result in the referendum to appeal the Eight Amendment, which was largely seen as a coup for Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

The fallout from the Disclosures Tribunal continued, with an excellent RTÉ documentary laying bare the ‘disgusting’ treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe. Journalist Katie Hannon’s powerful treatment of the story largely concentrated on the devastating human impact on the McCabe family. In the long list of Irish scandals involving skulduggery and incompetence, this will surely rank as one of the most shameful of them all.

Weather was rarely out of the news, with March snowstorms and summer droughts keeping the nation talking. Bread shortages were replaced by water rationing within the space of what seemed like a matter of weeks. A hosepipe ban succeeded in hammering home the conservation message and the public largely played ball, averting cut-offs and daytime pressure reductions in most places.

Brexit managed to ruin news and current affairs programmes on TV and radio. Yes, of course it’s an issue of vital importance for our country, both in terms of its economic impact and consequences for the peace process – but boy does it have a tendency to bore the pants off you at times!

As you will see from the above, there was certainly no shortage of topics to exercise the mind during the year. Many thanks to all the readers who offered feedback – good, bad and sometimes indifferent – to this column during 2018. 

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