Fine Gael miss the op­por­tu­nity to go it alone in Gov­ern­ment

Bray People - - OPINION - with Gavin Duffy

REG­U­LAR READ­ERS will know that I was hop­ing for a strong, sin­gle party, Fine Gael Gov­ern­ment. I am not a reg­u­lar Fine Gael voter but I was “lend­ing” the party my vote to once and for all sort out the mess our coun­try has got into.

To do so needed a strong Gov­ern­ment, not a coali­tion based and run on com­pro­mise. I made no se­cret of this writ­ing in this col­umn two weeks ago. Af­ter all this is why this is called an “opin­ion col­umn”, so I give my opin­ion, only for you to con­sider it.

I am dis­ap­pointed that Fine Gael which had other solid op­tions rushed into a Coali­tion with the Labour party which is heav­ily in­flu­enced and driven by the Trade Unions.

Would it have been pos­si­ble to have a mi­nor­ity Gov­ern­ment sup­ported by In­de­pen­dents? We will never know. Surely with such a large num­ber of In­de­pen­dents it is un­be­liev­able that no one from Fine Gael ap­par­ently even both­ered to en­quire would there be eight to ten In­de­pen­dents pre­pared to sup­port a mi­nor­ity Fine Gael ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Of course peo­ple will say this op­tion would not have guar­an­teed sta­bil­ity. But on the other hand that is what made it so at­trac­tive. Let me ex­plain. Enda Kenny could have done a deal with the In­de­pen­dents and tied them in for maybe two years. Then, when the go­ing got tough for the In­de­pen­dents and they were threat­en­ing to pull out, Fine Gael then could have done a deal with Labour. Labour would have been as keen then to get the perks of power as they are now.

Please don’t for­get to work into the equa­tion we will have a newly elected Pres­i­dent by then. When that Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion takes place, can­di­dates will no doubt be asked and re­minded of their re­spon­si­bil­ity not to au­to­mat­i­cally grant a dis­so­lu­tion of the Dáil, but rather force the var­i­ous party lead­ers to find and an al­ter­na­tive Gov­ern­ment when the num­bers are there. The point I am mak­ing is Enda was pretty cer­tain he could take sup­port from the In­de­pen­dents and, then if nec­es­sary, throw them over­board and co­a­lesce with Labour.

By go­ing it alone with the sup­port of In­de­pen­dents it would mean Fianna Fail would have been rel­e­gated fur­ther to be­ing merely the sec­ond party on the op­po­si­tion benches. It seems many vot­ers re­ally wanted to ad­min­is­ter max­i­mum pun­ish­ment to Fianna Fail, so Enda Kenny would have been do­ing his party and those vot­ers a great ser­vice by tak­ing this course of ac­tion. But again this wasn’t even con­sid­ered.

Of course Enda Kenny could also have gov­erned, al­beit with a mi­nor­ity, if he had at least tried to call Micheál Martin’s bluff as re­gards de­mand­ing a Tal­laght Strat­egy, Mark 2, in re­verse from the Sol­diers of Des­tiny. Fianna Fail was, af­ter all, obliged to sup­port Fine Gael to 2014 once it was fol­low­ing the IMF/EU deal to re­duce the na­tional deficit.

Again in this op­tion there was the op­por­tu­nity that once this ar­range­ment had run its course Fine Gael could bring the Labour Party into Gov­ern­ment at that stage.

Labour too de­spite all their preach­ing for years about the coun­try need­ing a Left – Right axis spurned the op­por­tu­nity to bring that about by rush­ing into a coali­tion to prop up Fine Gael in Gov­ern­ment. Also there was much sense to Labour go­ing into op­po­si­tion for a cou­ple of years as it would shove Sinn Fein and the rest of the hard Left down the peck­ing or­der on the op­po­si­tion benches. In­stead they will now be chip­ping away at Labour for the next num­ber of years.


But it is the Depart­ment of Fi­nance and RTE that also played a key role this week. The for­mer by why it did do and the lat­ter by what it didn’t do.

The Depart­ment of Fi­nance brought the two par­ties in to tell them things were even worse than they told them they were ap­par­ently a month ago. So by fright­en­ing Fine Gael you force them to go for a large ma­jor­ity with Labour and of course Labour will pro­tect the Pub­lic Sec­tor the king pins of whom are all in the Depart­ment of Fi­nance.

And RTE, our na­tional broad­caster didn’t do it­self any favours. Congratulations on its won­der­ful count cov­er­age but then, as the pub­lic sec­tor does, hav­ing worked a bit of overtime it de­manded its TOIL. That is time off in lieu of the hard work they had put in dur­ing the elec­tion.

So RTE chose not to re­port on any al­ter­na­tive to a Gov­ern­ment with­out Labour. For ex­am­ple, should Prime­time not at least have done a spe­cial on the newly elected In­de­pen­dent TDs to the 31st Dáil to es­tab­lish who are they, are they left, right or cen­tre and what was the op­por­tu­nity of find­ing eight or ten in their num­ber that might con­sider sup­port­ing a Fine Gael mi­nor­ity Gov­ern­ment.

Again RTE has left it­self open to the crit­i­cism that it is very pro the Labour Party and Trade Unions. Of course this is not sur­pris­ing, as for years many have claimed RTE is run by the Trade Unions not man­age­ment.

But it is sur­pris­ing that in a week when there was very lit­tle po­lit­i­cal news, as both the Fine Gael and Labour ne­go­tia­tors were main­tain­ing a me­dia black­out on their talks, that RTE did not ask why is Fine Gael rush­ing into Gov­ern­ment with Labour?

Per­haps the rea­son RTE didn’t is that RTE is a pub­lic ser­vice broad­caster and there­fore it sees its job as pro­tect­ing the pub­lic ser­vice and there­fore pro­motes the idea of the Labour party shar­ing power be­cause that ul­ti­mately pro­tects RTE’s own vested in­ter­est.

There can be no other ex­pla­na­tion as to why RTE from elec­tion count night on, per­sisted in pro­mot­ing Labour as the au­to­matic dance part­ner to Fine Gael.

And, as I have stated, there was no cov­er­age all this last week of the In­de­pen­dent’s and their re­spec­tive po­lit­i­cal lean­ings. If dur­ing the elec­tion it made sense to have Char­lie Bird go­ing around the coun­try talk­ing to any­one he met out walk­ing their dog and ask­ing them for their views on our na­tional cri­sis, surely, those who had suc­cess­fully run for the Dáil de­served to be given a voice this last week.

No the truth is de­spite an his­toric elec­tion re­sult very lit­tle has changed.

The Depart­ment of Fi­nance wants to pro­tect

Enda Kenny could have done a deal with the In­de­pen­dents and tied them in for two years

its own salaries and pen­sions and saw Labour in Gov­ern­ment as a means to as­sist it in that goal.

RTE still ap­pears to have a bias in favour of the Labour Party.

And politi­cians, be they Fine Gael or Labour, will do any­thing to en­joy the trap­pings of power and will want to se­cure them­selves the op­por­tu­nity of hold­ing onto that power for as long as they can. All other op­tions are sec­ondary.

Enda Kenny and Ea­mon Gil­more af­ter both par­ties agreed a pro­gramme to form the next gov­ern­ment. Should FG have been so quick to jump into bed with Labour?

Again RTE has left it­self open to the crit­i­cism that it is very pro the Labour Party and Trade Unions.

The Depart­ment of Fi­nance brought the two par­ties in to tell them things were even worse than they told them they were a month ago.

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