Updated: 16/02/17 : 05:01:15
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Election closer as heave-ho moves on Kenny

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

THE GOVERNMENT failed to get the support of 63% of TDs in its ''Confidence' call last night, Wednesday

The figures tell their own (stark) story: 57 for, 52 against....and 44 abstentions.

A total of 96 TDs present failed to vote ''confidence'' in the Government. 

The Government was supported by just 37% of TDs present and eligible to vote.

In other words, as an exam grade the Government failed to get a 'pass' last night.

The ''confidence'' count included just ONE vote out of four in Sligo, Leitrim, west Cavan and south Donegal -- namely, Tony McLoughlin.

Totally Sundered

Not since the Arms Crisis debates in May 1970 has the Dáil seen a week like it and as bitter, rancid.

The life of this Government is over: We are facing a general election sooner rather than later after last night's Pyrrhic victory.

The irony will not be lost privately within Fine Gael that it has been totally sundered on an issue relating to the police service in the Republic.

For nearly a century Fine Gael has styled itself as the party of 'law and order.'

Coded Warning

The sundering this week has not been confined to FG's own series of self-inflicted stabs on its own Government. 

Now the party elite have issued what is essentially an ultimatum to the party's most successful ever leader, Enda Kenny.

The ultimatum, formally issued last night, is in the form of a firmly coded warning: 'Step aside.....or else.'

The succession of Leo Varadkar or maybe Simon Coveney will force Fianna Fáil to think on its feet.

The F and F-ers have been telling all and sundry that their biggest asset was/is.....well, Enda Kenny. 

A bit of a cheap shot -- especially with such a dearth of real talent evident on the FF benches.....or at least the benches favoured by Fianna Fail's leader.

Several Rants

For my sins, I watched the entire ''confidence'' debate live on TV last night.

That included an awful rant from the Fine Gael script factory read by Tony McLoughlin.

That came as the debate wound up and the vote result was announced just before 11pm last night.

There were several such rants last night as Fine Gael forgot its own roots.

The rants may have betrayed a deeper truth, namely how Fine Gael felt in falling so far short on an issue related to policing.

Counting Votes

Meanwhile, Tony McLoughlin was one of the tellers last night counting votes on the winning side. 

TDs had to physically troop through the Dail lobbies, as electronic voting is not permitted on ''confidence'' votes.

Best speech last night was Maureen O'Sullivan, informed and generous.

She praised her colleagues Clare Daly and Mick Wallace for their persistence over the years 

The Labour leader Brendan Howlin also did well. He knocked lumps out of Enda Kenny's style of (now) running a Cabinet. 

Mind you, many TDs did not like the cabal outside the Cabinet -- it included Howlin -- which decided economic policy between 2011 and 2016.

Most statesmanlike, unmistakably and unquestionably, was the speech last night by Leo Varadkar.

He said Maurice McCabe's Six Questions should be answered. 

That issue will be the first test of Varadkar's leadership capacity and judgement.

As the Chinese proverb has it: May you live in interesting times. Indeed.