Jude Collins

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Fine Gael and Labour: do their bums look big?

Hands up if you remember the arrival of the IMF people in Dublin? It seems an age ago but when they first came, a weird version of the Emperor’s new clothes began.  Everybody knew they were in town, everybody knew a  bail-out was about to happen, but Brian Lenihan and Fianna Fail stayed blank-faced and in denial: no, no, no, no, no, there were no negotiations,  there were no plans for meetings, there was no question of a bail-out,  IMF officials, what IMF officials?  Next thing,  Lenihan and Fianna Fail are knee-deep in, not so much negotiations as receiving stern instructions as to what would happen. Cue removal of Emperor’s new clothes.

The scene in today’s Dail  will be a bit like that. Nearly everyone wants the Finance Bill to go through.  What would normally take weeks and weeks will  go zinging into legislation inside four days. Don’t you love it? Legislation that will effectively crucify the non-wealthy in the south will be fast-tracked by Fianna Fail and the Greens. Fine Gael and Labour, of course, are against this happening. That’s why they’ve agreed to remove any obstacle to the Bill’s passage. You want a clear run, with no awkward questions or other legislation?  You got it. You want to make sure this Bill is passed before the general election? You got it. Are we – Fine Gael and Labour – in favour of this Bill? Of COURSE not - we’re completely opposed to it.  Can’t you see how opposed we are? The  Emperor’s new clothes all over again: Fine Gael and Labour swearing they’re clad head-to-toe in anti-Bill finery when the rest of us seem convinced they’re as naked as new-born scaldies.

You need proof? Then watch what happens if Michael Lowry and/or Jackie Healy-Rae follow through on their mutterings and refuse to support Fianna Fail and the Greens in voting through the Bill.  Fine Gael and Labour will be forced into the open, forced to vote for the Bill or at best abstain. The instant they do, the game will be up. Like it or lump it, the electorate will see their silly pretend-game collapse and they’ll stand there in all their skinny-dip glory.

Oh God. Time to lie down. I’ve just thought what Pat Rabbitte might look like...

1 comment:

  1. Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin's last-ditch drive to stem seat losses in the Irish general election was dealt a severe blow last night with the departure of well-known party figures.
    His efforts to stamp his authority on Fianna Fail were thrown into disarray following major setbacks in a number of key constituencies.
    And there are still question marks over the fate of a number of senior cabinet figures.
    Fianna Fail was last night hit by the retirement of high-profile Donegal North-East TD Niall Blaney, who unexpectedly pulled out of the election race. He is the 18th Fianna Fail deputy to quit before this election.
    His decision to stand down for “personal reasons” has stunned the party. The selection convention in Letterkenny was left in disarray when a statement from Mr Blaney was read out to the meeting. His brother, Councillor Liam Blaney, may be added to the ticket.
    But there is also a threat of a split in the organisation again — just five years after the Blaneys came back into the Fianna Fail fold 35 years after the arms crisis divide.
    Such is the level of uncertainty surrounding the party that Tanaiste Mary Coughlan's
    spokesman was forced to deny strong rumours that she too was planning to withdraw.
    The spokesman said: “She is preparing her campaign as we speak.”
    And in Roscommon-South Leitrim, Rachel Doherty, daughter of the late justice minister Sean Doherty, withdrew her name as a potential candidate.
    The setbacks come as Mr Martin conducts a final sweep of Fianna Fail's candidate line-up before the election in the Republic officially gets under way tomorrow — but he faces several problems.
    And Taoiseach Brian Cowen was last night widely expected to confirm his retirement in the Dail tomorrow.
    Senior Fianna Fail figures in his Laois-Offaly constituency are meeting tonight in Tullamore ahead of the selection convention tomorrow night.
    And there are doubts if Mr Cowen's running mate John Molony will seek re-election.
    Despite a slight improvement in the party's polling fortunes, Fianna Fail's strategy is to avoid splitting the vote too much and placing further seats in danger.
    The party leader managed to convince Cork city colleague, Noel O'Flynn, to stand down to ensure the party won one seat in his constituency.
    But Mr Blaney's departure was not in Mr Martin's election campaign plans.