Stark Honesty (for once) in Leinster House
Deaglán de Bréadún
Maybe it’s the Dog Days of August but there is an air of considerable fatalism in Leinster House these days. Talking to seasoned politicians this week, two strong messages came forward, both of them surprising to a greater or lesser extent.
Gloom and doom at Leinster House (Photograph by Alan Betson)
The first was – and this one took your humble scribe aback – that Lisbon is a dead duck, a goner, not a hope in hell. I protested that, surely the people would vote Yes out of sheer naked fear of making the economic situation even worse.
Nope, I was told by a highly-experienced (and pro-EU) Fianna Fáil backbencher. The farmers are voting against en bloc and don’t pay any attention to what their leaders are saying. (I should point out that the executive council of the Irish Farmers’ Association has voted unanimously to recommend a Yes to Lisbon.)
But surely the possibility of negative economic results will deter people from voting No a second time, I suggested? Another TD, from the Labour side, said he believed there was a “death-wish” among the electorate.
More narrowly, I discussed the likely outcome of the next election with two FF backbenchers who have been through many a battle. “Where we have two seats, we’ll come back with one; where we have three, we’ll come back with two.”
Startling in its honesty an starkness. Another interesting comment, concerning the state of things in Teach Laighean: “When this place gets into a wobble, it hardly ever gets out of it.”
Last night, though, your intrepid reporter made his way to Tullamore for a press conference with the Taoiseach. It has to be said that Mr Cowen looked and sounded relaxed and unruffled.
I asked him if his mood reflected his assessment of the political situation or the good Galway air he was breathing on his holidays. He quipped: “A bit of both.”
He expressed himself quite willing to accept “appropriate” amendments to the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) legislation, from the Greens or any other source, provided that such changes did not alter the basic thrust of the Bill and of government banking policy.
Enda Kenny had a somewhat uncomfortable interview on the News at One radio programme on RTE. Asked repeatedly about the cost of Fine Gael’s proposals, he did not provide a figure. Precision is a scarce commodity in the Nama debate. Probably his best answer would have been to say that the Government has failed to provide exact figures for its own proposals and that it’s just not possible at this stage to specify precise sums. Maybe instead of writing for this blog, I should go into the lucrative field of media training?