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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 6, 2010 @ 9:48 am

    Ups and Downs of FF and FG

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    The Fine Gael heave was great entertainment, but probably not very  enjoyable for those directly involved.  Curiously, Enda Kenny has emerged stronger than before and looks more like a plausible taoiseach than at any time since he took over as Opposition leader.

    Now Fianna Fail have taken centre-stage. International  opinion broadly agrees with what the FF-led government has done on the economy and Brian Cowen’s leadership has been widely praised abroad.

    But at home, the punters are flocking to the Labour Party and Fianna Fail is facing a possible meltdown. Where there are two FF deputies in a constituency, the current mood of the electorate suggests there will be only one in the next Dail.

    That mood could change but it is clear that  some backbenchers are in a bit of a panic. They would clearly like to change the leader but that’s very hard to do when nobody else has expressed an interest in the job.

    It’s a difficult time for “the lads” (and lassies). There must be days when some of these TDs wonder why they went into politics in the first place. Is it a drug?

    • JD says:

      By “international opinion”, you do mean the bond markets, the rating agencies, and a clutch of fiscal conservatives, of course! Totally disinterested opinion there, Lord knows. I mean, who really cares about mass emigration, long dole queues, rotten prisons, crammed classrooms, failing health services, etc. once a country’s capacity to service debt on time is being bolstered?

      Anyway, why do you think for a moment that FF’s ongoing malaise has anything to do with their current term in office? Their time is up and nothing that they do – including the disgraceful backsliding on holding a children’s rights referendum during the lifetime of this Dail in order to avoid holding by-elections – is going to stop their day of reckoning from being quite grim.

    • Joanna Tuffy says:

      To paraphrase Roy Keane who are “international opinion”?

    • robespierre says:

      I don’t agree at all Deaglán. Kenny may have routed dissent in his party but that is a very far cry from convincing people that he is ready to run the country. Being an old dog for the long road does not mean he should ascend to the highest office in the land.

      I know many, many people who would have switched to FG had Bruton won through. Bruton and the other front benchers who weasled their way back to the front bench now have no credibility at all. Especially Bruton. If he didn’t have confidence in Kenny a month ago how the hell can he sit on the front bench.

      If there are a series of 3 way debates across RTE and TV3 I can quite easily see Kenny driving urban voters away, especially in Dublin, in their droves. I spend a good bit of time in rural wexford as well and I don’t detect much of a mood shift down there either.

    • Liam says:

      I’m not too sure how much faith you can put in the international praise, there are plenty of bond funds out there that won’t touch Irish debt because the gov. bailed out the banks bond investors. Its all smoke and mirrors for now and kicking the can down the road.

    • Michael says:

      Deaglan “International opinion broadly agrees with what the FF-led government has done on the economy and Brian Cowen’s leadership has been widely praised abroad.” This refers only to the budget cuts and tax increases. It ignores the much more far reaching impact of the government’s banking policy.

      As your own paper’s front page this morning makes clear; international opinion (and the EU commission in particular) doesn’t agree with what FF are doing with the economy in regard its bank policies.

    • Eoin Martin says:

      That’s a very good question Deaglan. Why did so many of our TDs want to be politicians at all? It would be hard for any member of the Dail to claim they take pride in their legislative performance over the last 13 years. A lot of them seemed to have followed family members (Cowen and Kenny) and others seemed to have been motivated by some urgent local issue. That’s fine insofar as it goes but wouldn’t it be normal to hope a politician might actually aspire to power – to run the country – to do something with that power? Both Cowen (like Ahern before him) and Kenny seem to have no vision of how they’d like to leave Ireland looking when they’re finished and their cabinets and backbenchers are no better.

    • Eoin says:

      No, they just wanted to see if they could get their snouts in the trough too.

    • The amount of money coming in is far below the amount the State is spending. Fiscal measures were and are clearly required. There are issues about the equity with which those measures have been imposed. It is also desirable to have a stimulus package but suggesting that is the complete answer can’t be taken seriously. There were major mistake made in the past. Fianna Fail must obviously take much of the blame but the entire political system was part of the madness. I look forward to the election manifestos next time spelling out exactly what each party will do if it achieves power, not just the nice bits.

    • robespierre says:

      I think part of the issue is that some people do not understand the scale of reform of the public sector required to achieve some of the savings outlined in the McCarthy report on public sector numbers & expenditure.

      The level of structural reform, merging and demerging and closing down that any sensible business would do (like Jack Welch in GE in the 1970s) will not be brooked here.

      The revenues have collapsed and what the government is avoiding is the difficult, technically challenging means by which you address a cost base. I believe the lack of skills in the public sector and in government and opposition in relation to this is what Ed Walsh was referring to yesterday. To those of who consult on these issues (like me) across the public and private sector it is screamingly obvious that structural inefficiencies need to be remedied if the cost base is going to come down sufficiently to meet the revenue line.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Denial is a stronger emotion than love or hate I think.

      As denial about their role in creating their mess and the fact none of them offer the solution – not to mention mass denial among the Irish public about their own role in creating the mess – added to denial in the media about its role in failing to hold those in positions of power to account for their decisions.

      That’s what keeps the TDs going – because if they were ever to stop and face the reality of what they’ve done …

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