The Irish Mail on Sunday



supporter, Kenny offered the party’s finance position to Limerick TD Kieran O’Donnell. O’Donnell declined and supported Bruton’s failed heave attempt instead.

Kenny went on to offer the finance position, and later the finance ministry, to O’Donnell’s constituen­cy colleague Michael Noonan.

Today, Noonan basks in the political glory of successful­ly occupying the most important ministry in government. Meanwhile, O’Donnell languishes in backbench obscurity, a sad example of the fate that can befall you if you back the wrong horse at the wrong time.

There will be cagey conversati­ons as key Labour figures play political poker with each other. For members of the parliament­ary party the key will be to hide your own hand of cards while finding out what cards are held by others. Intrigue will be the name of the game. It will be a bit like an episode of Game Of Thrones – minus the nudity – as people practised in deception manoeuvre against people practised in deceit.

Labour’s dire result is also bad news for the Taoiseach and for Fine Gael. Not alone must Fine Gael ministers lick the wounds their own party has picked up in the local elections, but they must also face the prospect that life with their junior partners is about to get considerab­ly more difficult.

If Gilmore remains Labour leader, he will have to demonstrat­e more belligeren­ce in his party’s dealings with Fine Gael.

If Gilmore is dumped as Labour leader, his successor will have to demonstrat­e more belligeren­ce in the party’s dealings with Fine Gael. Heads, Labour wins influence; tails, FG loses influence.

The aftermath of the 2009 local election is instructiv­e in this regard. In that election, the Green Party lost almost half of its councillor­s. Following that setback, the Greens demanded from Fianna Fáil a renegotiat­ion of the programme for government. That involved extra concession­s from Fianna Fáil to keep the Greens in power.

That 2009 deal was lambasted by Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar, who described it as ‘a tawdry deal to keep Fianna Fáil in power and John Gormley and Eamon Ryan in ministeria­l office’. Don’t be surprised to see history repeat itself as Labour seeks to make up political lost ground after its severe setback on Friday. This time it will be Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil criticisin­g ‘tawdry deals’.

Fine Gael and Labour will be hoping that, following an initial period of political turbulence after these mid-term elections, they can begin to recover support as the next general election approaches. They hope that Friday’s dismal results merely reflect mid-term blues rather than a more sustained loss of support. But Fianna Fáil and the Greens thought that too, back in 2009. Their hopes were dashed as they faced electoral obliterati­on in the 2011 general election.

For Fianna Fáil, Friday’s election represente­d a staging post on what the party hopes will be a road to full recovery. In 2007, the party won 42% of the national vote; in 2011 just 17%. Fianna Fáil’s feeble recovery in this week’s elections suggests that the party faces a long

Political careers will be made or broken aas people practised in deception manoeuvre

against people practised in deceit

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