The second storm…
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.