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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 9, 2009 @ 10:31 am

    The second storm…

    Harry McGee

    Fine Gael’s tactics in tabling a vote of no confidence was to give the Government parties no respite, no breathing space, no time for contemplation and cogitation.

    So once the Dáil kicks off today, it’s going to be all-action end-to-end stuff… well as close as it gets to that for anoraks.

    There will be a couple of events today that will be high visibility. The arrival of St George TD to Leinster House will provide the main pic for most newspapers for tomorrow.

    Leaders questions will also be fractious, with Cowen publicy defending his record for the first time as he faces down the two main oppositon leaders in the Dáil.

    But the two major events of today will occur later on. The debate on the Fine Gael motion of no confidence will  begin at 7pm with speeches, I’d guess from Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmor. The debate will continue for an hour and a  half tonight and a similar time period tomorrow. My own inclination is that Cowen will not speak until tomorrow.

    The second significant occurrence this evening will be the Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting involving its 120 or so TDs and Senators. That will give the party its first opportunity of conducting a post mortem. And for us to take out the highly speicialised scientific instruments we use to gauge mood, morale, mutiny and  murder. It’ll provide the first chance for us to learn (by talking to FFers afterwards; the meeting is always private) the new pressures that are being faced by the Cowen leadership.

    The Greens will also be conducting a post mortem this week, a licking the wound exercice. In FF, it’s the parliamentary party that is the ultimate arbitrer. With the Greens it’s the wider party membership. So gradualism will be the order of the day with the smaller coalition party.

    An imminent General Election? Nah. A change of Fianna Fail leader?  Nah. A pull out by the Greens? Nah. The only thing that is certain (though its timing is not) is that Cowen will have to effect a radical reshuffle of ministers.

    Not this week. Some or all of those things will happen. Not before the summer, with the possible excepton of the reshuffle.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      I have to wonder if the confidence motion is more about breaking the government apart piece by piece. It will allow a chance for people to place immense pressure on Lowry, Grealish, Behan and even Healy-Rae to either side with the opinion of the people or hold with the government. If any of them shift now then they won’t be going back for the budget. I would think it possible that Lowry and Behan could at a minimum sit it out, and even Jackie might make himself absent for the vote. This is also put up or shut up time for Grealish. If he votes with the government then he is locked in with them and will be nailed to them in Galway next time.

    • Will, greystones says:

      Now is the time for Brian Lenihan to answer his own call to patriotism and for the sake of the country go! – before this financially, morally and intellectually bankrupt Government turns the nightmare scenario of NAMA into a €90bn reality.

    • john says:

      Much has been made of the Green wipe out. The Greens will lose all seats in any early general election.. Labour will just take the seats. The loss of these seats will spell the end of the party. If the Greens jump ship they are finished as a party of government.
      This government has 3 years to run. Much can happen in three years. Better to avoid the gallows in the short term with the prospect of a reprieve in three years time.

    • Harry says:

      An amendment to the earlier post. The Government decided to run the Fine Gael debate in Government time, making it a confidence motion from Government, rather than a no confidence motion. Stephen Collins tells me that it’s standard. It means that the Government takes the initative and also means that much more time is allotted for the debate. There was some strong stuff from both sides. Fianna Fail parliamentary Party meeting is now underway.

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