Updated: 29/11/17 : 05:20:24
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Leo whistled past the ‘last chance’ saloon

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

ONLY MONTHS in his job as leader of the Government, Leo Varadkar whistled past the ‘last chance’ saloon yesterday, Tuesday.

He may not get too many escapes; if he doubts that let him test it with an early national poll.

Even what seemed a truism a mere 72 hours ago is no longer 100% true.

Namely, his leadership of Fine Gael TDs — distinct from leadership of the country — looked good, even invincible.

Not true anymore and the succinct public critique yesterday by John Collins, a Cork  Fine Gael Councillor, will be a solid ‘marker’ for some time to come.

Leo Varadkar is in (early and definite) danger of becoming a David Moyes, Man United vintage.

Even good managers surrounded by a good team squad and by a famous brand name don’t always equal success.

Read the chapter, Leo. Moyes was signed for six years, he lasted less than one.

Varadkar’s leadership of both the country AND his party this past week was, at different times, ‘car crash’ vintage.

His loyalty to Frances Fitzgerald was misplaced, misguided and misjudgment of major order. 

On day one of the recent saga, she could (should) have stepped aside for months and tested the points made belatedly in her resignation statement yesterday.

Doing so, the Tanaiste would have enhanced the political nous of her leader. Now???

Her own pathway back to power, maybe even a shot at the Presidency, might have been easier, quicker. Now???

But we now know that, even had she wanted, Varadkar probably wouldn’t have ‘bought’ her stepping aside. 

Even after her resignation there were STILL elements in his own (subdued) Dáil show  yesterday afternoon which whistled past the ‘last chance saloon.’

Yesterday afternoon, Varadkar was in full flight as he castigated the Department of Justice.

Really? He would have voted confidence in them last night, Tuesday, if Frances Fitzgerald had not stepped down hours earlier.

Soft Publicity

Besides, public servants who cannot answer a Taoiseach back collectively are a cheap target for soft publicity.

Cormac Lucey, ex advisor to Michael McDowell as Justice Minister, said as much on RTE’s Prime Time last night.

Looking back, Fine Gael has had a cozy, cozy relationship with Gardai in tandem with the Department of Justice over five decades, even longer.

Maybe we need to re-audit some of what looked like good journalism and/or good Dail back in the day.

Good Journalism

In reality some of this stuff didn’t always add ‘two and two equals four’ but media and ministers always made it all fit together back in the day.

The winner this week is good journalism, especially television and radio.

Public service broadcasting in RTÉ takes bagfuls but not all of the kudos.

Michael Clifford at The Irish Examiner did dozens of shows with Vincent Browne on TV3 on the subject which finally came home to roost this week.

The treatment of Maurice McCabe is a story like an iceberg; its perils will mostly not ever be visible to the eye.

Clarity, Precision

The week’s other big winner is Jim O’Callaghan, Fianna Fail’s Spokesman on Justice.

O’Callaghan communicated all that mattered in a public way.

He always communicated with clarity and precision, both cool and calm.

His party leader Meehawl Martin should ‘cog’ one or two of those points, too. 

Link: See Sligo Today 26/11/2017.