Updated: 24/11/17 : 05:26:57
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Fine Gael plods down arrogance avenue, again

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

FINE GAEL arrogance knows no bounds when it comes to protecting a party Minister.

Discuss with examples. The best/worst example is the Donegan caper of 1976.

Within a few months Jo Public voted Fine Gael from power with a thumping of unprecedented scale.

Egg Cup

Some of the current Cabinet weren’t even in nappies when Fine Gael last publicly protested “the Minister has done nothing wrong.”

One local Minister even categorised that 1976 issue as “a storm in an eggcup.”

Eggcup? Really? The President of Ireland, the Constitutional chief commander of the Defence Forces, was called “a thundering disgrace.”

He was so called in an an address given to Army ranks by Minister for Defence Donegan. 

We know the conversation only because journalist Don Lavery travelled from England to Mullingar that morning to report on a routine speech.

Donegan offered his resignation to Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave but it was refused and President O Dalaigh resigned within days. 

The arrogance of that latter government decision and driving a President (it disliked anyway) from office was dealt with by voters at the first opportunity.

Bombs Heard

The last time we potentially faced a Christmas election was 1972, amending the Offences against the State Act.

Jack Lynch told his troops that any waverers in his party would cause a poll on December 19th.

There were waverers in Fine Gael that night, too, planning to vote against their own party leader.

But British bombs which could be heard in the Dail itself (and deaths) rapidly altered that vote, so no election, just then anyway.

Further back, in late 1947 Dev decided to have an election in February 1948. 

On all three examples, the Taoiseach of the day made inaccurate calls and defeat followed within months in general elections.

Into those frameworks we can now drop the latest example —where we started — namely, the lengths Fine Gael will go to protect a party Minister.

Hard Hats

The 1976 episode was marked by a sense, too, peculiar to Fine Gael — namely  of ‘hard hats’ feeling they were twice as moral as everybody else. Familiar?

The solution in November 2017 is simple: Frances Fitzgerald has to fall on her sword or to be pushed over the next 96 hours. 

Otherwise it’s a general election for us in January or early February. 

The majority of the Dail has NO confidence in the Minister this Friday morning. Could it be any clearer. 

Fine Gael TDs met in emergency session last night at 10pm to don the party jersey and wear the colours. They’d done it 24 hours earlier in the Seanad.

They all also decided last night in Fine Gael to go Groupthink, ‘all for one and one for all’ and all that.

Emergency? There were homeless deaths outside the gates of the Dail this decade.

Did Fine Gael summon “emergency” 10pm sessions then? Jo Public is no eejit.

Continue reading below:


Bigger Question

Bigger issues which voters will ponder are whether (a) credibility or(b) confidence are the kernel issues which ignited the current crisis.

It may not be both, but the answer cannot be none of those issues either. 

1. Is it credible a Minister never read the email to her which is now causing the furore?

Maybe she did not read her email, give her the full benefit of the doubt. 

But.....but if that is true a BIGGER question mark then hovers over the Minister.

2. Namely, how/why should Jo Public have confidence in a Minister, any Minister, to be watchdog in its interests if she doesn’t read email in the 21st century.

Not any Minister, not any issue: It was the Minister for Justice (Justice!) on an issue of how a private citizen was being privately processed.

Processed that is by a service which was 100% answerable to her as Minister.

All Wings

There are OTHER issues arise this 2017 weekend. Why was the leader of the Government informed of the email only after it was revealed on RTE.

The leader of the Government has to decide this weekend whether that must come first in any juxtaposition with being leader of Fine Gael. 

Is it a given, too, that all other wings of this Cabinet are singing the same hymn sheet as Fine Gael.

If there is that type of total unanimity inside a mixed coalition towards one party’s Minister in difficulty we might be making history.

For now though Fine Gael has opted to flood the airwaves with the sound of its self hurt. 

By the by, any immediate upcoming election will see Sligo vote with west Cavan, south Donegal and Leitrim.

Legislation has not yet been passed to install the revised boundaries.

Cavan Voters

That would mean 36 election districts in west Cavan will stay with Sligo and the planned addition of North Roscommon voters would be deferred.

Prediction is that Frances Fitzgerald will personally offer a resignation.

Prediction for later 2018 is for a Fianna Fáil, Labour and Greens government. 

Link: See Sligo Today 23/11/2017.