When Push Comes to Shove
Deaglán de Bréadún
The conventional wisdom now is that the Lisbon Treaty will pass by a respectable margin. The opening of the Nama debate in the Dáil seems to have calmed nerves. Suspense is not good for politics and the fact that we now know the extent of the “haircut” on the loans and the level of long-term economic value has stabilised the situation.
Hope for Cowen after all? (Photo: Brenda Fitzsimons)
Now it’s all eyes on the Greens. It looks as if their special conference set for October 10th could be moved to another date. A moveable feast, as it were.
Likewise, the legislative timetable for Nama is very flexible. But the talks between the coalition parties on the Programme for Government have not yet got under way apparently.
It’s a fair guess that these talks won’t really start until after the Lisbon vote on October 2nd. If the Yes side wins the referendum, it will be the first piece of good news Brian Cowen has received in some time.
There is a big debate going on in the Greens with some members anti-Nama at any price and others prepared to be more pragmatic.
Another issue that is starting to surface is this: would you prefer to walk out of government over Nama or over the Budget? Mind you, there is a long history in Irish politics of budgets being trumpeted as the “worst ever” and, in the end, they turn out to be not quite as bad as the forecasts.
The current referendum has to be the most halfhearted ever. People on both sides are pretty tired, except perhaps for Cóir who seem to have unending reserves of energy, particularly when it comes to posters. Their “heart” posters are not as effective as the other ones, though.
There was a bit of craic yesterday when visiting Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa and Enda Kenny took a stroll by Stephen’s Green to promote Lisbon. They came across pop artist Brendan Higgins’s portrait of Cowen as the anti-Obama, “No Hope” figure. Walesa hasn’t a word of English and did not realise what he was doing in the photograph above. For more on this, click here.
Yours truly has been asked to chair a Lisbon debate in Buswell’s Hotel on Wednesday between Timmy Dooley TD (FF) and Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD (SF). It’s between 7pm and 8.15pm. Come along and you can buy me an orange juice afterwards.