Updated: 23/11/17 : 05:45:01
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Fine Gael stonewall does not help Fitzgerald

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

STONEWALL JACKSON could/should be the new patron saint of Fine Gael.

That is ‘Stonewall’ the political general and not the country singer of “Waterloo” (Waterloo!) fifty years back.

Much sooner than that we will know the fate of Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald and whether she faces a personal Waterloo today, Thursday.

Her immediate political career is still on the line and will be so up to lunchtime this Thursday, maybe even teatime.

Frances Fitzgerald gave varying senses of being sure, certain and then stoic when she went before the Senate last night, Wednesday

The neutral observer would also have noted that many Senators were absent for the short question and answer session.

Glum Faces

Therein lies the first fault with last night’s showing in the Senate.

It resembled NOT a real question and answer session, more ‘wear your colours and show your support for our side.’

That was the way it came across from Fine Gael leader in the Seanad, Jerry Buttimer and from the glum party faces sitting behind him.

Buttimer stoutly and stirringly sold the merits of a Minister facing..... well, facing meltdown.

Last night RTE revealed — second time this week — that the email at the centre of the current row was found by the Department of Justice seven days BEFORE the Minister got it.

Why did the Tanaiste not tell us that, too?  Was she ever told? Was the Taoiseach ever told? 

Frances Fitzgerald sold her own personal merits in her speech last night.

But it sounded so, so like the sort of speech you might expect in, well, a ‘Confidence’ debate.

Jerry Buttimer spoke too as if he was (already) debating a ‘Confidence’ Motion.

His later showing on RTÉ Radio One’s “Late Debate” last night was mixed, too. 

The odds are lengthening on the Tanaiste having enough lifelines to even get as far as a ‘Confidence’ debate. 

By teatime tonight we will know, or should know, whether Frances Fitzgerald (a) will survive, (b) likely fall on her sword or (c) even be shoved from centre stage.

Lonely Day

Fitzgerald’s future will be decided, not by Fianna Fáil farting or Fine Gael stonewalls.

Unless she satisfactorily deals in the Dáil this morning with the issues raised in the past 48 hours by Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe, the Tanaiste is a goner.

It could be a lonely day for Leo Varadkar; the worst case scenario is that at lunchtime he might have to bluntly ask his second in command to step aside.

The Tanaiste post would be up for grabs. My money would go on Heather Humphries.

Own Petard

Blaming the (faceless) ‘Department of Justice’ will not wash or wear any more in this crisis.

Fine Gael wore itself hoarse, too, defending the past two Commissioner of Gardai.

Today may be another of those recent days when Fine Gael is again hoist with its own petard.

Sometimes FG has rested under (mistaken) notions this past century of it having sole party proprietorship of our police service and of it being the arbiters of its propriety. 

But back to TODAY: The only way out of their own mess is for Fine Gael to answer all the questions it has been asked by Dáil members, ‘though the heavens may fall.

Guff in the Oireachtas  about ‘parallel processes’ is just that, guff. It will cut no further ice in this case. 

The only way out is answer all the questions, ‘though the heavens may fall'.