Splitting hairs over minister’s expenses?
Deaglán de Bréadún
Check out last night’s Vincent Browne news and current affairs programme on TV3 by clicking here and you will see a lively discussion on Mary Harney’s free hairdo (“standard wash and blow-dries”) from training and employment agency Fás.
Two things struck me: 1) Public sympathy is on Harney’s side on this particular issue, whatever about others. It might seem a trivial observation but if she had an ostentatious hairstyle (think of John Prescott’s wife, Pauline) and clearly lavished large sums of money on her appearance it would be different; 2) The antagonism between Kathleen Lynch and Leo Varadkar does not augur well for the Fine Gael-Labour relationship.
As you all probably know, Labour will apparently not be committing itself to a pact with FG for the next general election: not at this stage anyhow. This allows FG to veer further to the right than might otherwise be the case and Varadkar has no compunction about delivering a strong right-of-centre message on the pay agreement or whatever (to his credit he seems to actually believe what he’s saying).
Of course these differences can, at least in theory, be ironed out when it comes to doing a deal. But if FG go to far for too long it will tick off the Labour grassroots who will therefore be more receptive to bunking-in with a chastened FF after the next run to the country.
The next general election is not officially due until 2012 but with the unstable political situation and the unpopularity of the Government, it could be sooner than that. Maybe a lot sooner. I’m trying not to quote Harold Macmillan’s alleged remark about “Events, dear boy, events.” Oh, there I’ve done it again.
Brian Cowen is having another bad week. He expressed confidence in Fás chief Rody Molloy only for the fellow to resign almost immediately afterwards. This issue then inevitably overshadowed the launch of the public sector report yesterday. But wasn’t the “lovely girl”, Tánaiste Mary Coughlan lucky to be away on a trade mission to the Middle East when the unlovely substance hit the fan back home?
Deaglán de Bréadún, Political Correspondent