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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 28, 2011 @ 11:40 am

    Calm after the Storm

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    The talks have begun and it looks like a fairly smooth transition to a coalition. Will there be a standoff over the Finance portfolio? Michael Noonan has had a great run in recent months but why would anyone want the job in the current climate?

    Looks like a Labour conference on Sunday next to sign off on the coalition deal. Given the tenor of the party’s campagn at the end for “fair and balanced government”, the activists can hardly turn around now and reject the offer put before them.

    We’ll never know, or not for a few years at least, what a single-party FG government would have been like. It’s a bit like wondering, “What happens if I press this button?”

    From a right-of-centre viewpoint, the coalition means key decisions are going to be fudged. The harsh medicine that the Right are always prescribing will now be diluted.

    Mary O’Rourke was critical on radio of those who left the sinking ship of Fianna Fail  - although she didn’t use that terminology. Mind you, the real problem for her was that there were three FF candidates in Longford-Westmeath.

    FF, the Ulster Unionist Party, to a lesser extent the SDLP, the Progressive Democrats all these powerful political forces have fallen on difficult times or, in the case of the PDs, just disappeared. Re-invention badly needed, but how? Suggestions on a postcard please …

    • robespierre says:

      Well an interesting thread is perhaps how narrow and insular all four parties are. The SDLP were the least insular but the fish tank that is Norn Ireland means they are more Jane Austen (never strayed more than 10 miles from home) than Marco Polo and suffer like the PDs, Unionists and Fianna Fáil from the arrogant, blinkered chauvinism (in the original sense of the word) that derives from this.

      FG on the other hand have always been an outward-facing party, as have Irish Labour which were a part of the International Labour Organisation when, for instance, Michael Foot’s British Labour Party were not. FG have assidusously worked the EPP which is why Gay Mitchell is on influential committees in the EP. FG were also in power when Ireland joined the UN and Cosgrave defined Irish neutrality as being conditional on godless totalitarian communism not coming near Irish shores. FG is in favour of ever closer union (e.g. common defence etc.) but within the party the current bailout conditions are seen as a kick in the teeth.

      Maybe what we have rejected ourselves is realist nationalism in favour of complex interdepedency in the management of the banking crisis. Europe knows that the realist approach adopted heretofore has not been helpful. Germany and France and the supra-national ECB have been adopting strongly unilateralist policies to protect their own financial systems from exposure to Ireland and other countries.

      The solution will only be through cooperation and burden sharing. It is the maturity of this vision and position that the electorate voted for. Just as it waxed and waned between the little irelander CJ Haughey and the multi-lingual Garret Fitzgerald.

    • Ronan says:

      FF, the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP all attracted their candidates and members simply by virtue of being the dominant force in their respective communities. When that dominance was threatened, they found themselves with an ideologically diverse bunch of TDs, MPs, or MLAs, with little to unite them but their desire to stay in office. This will make it difficult for any party to carve out a distinctive niche.

      The UUP’s 2010 election was a case in point, with their leadership supporting a link with the Tories, who were too conservative for the party’s only MP, Sylvia Hermon, and too liberal for much of the membership.

      All three now find themselves with very vague policy positions, struggling to reconcile their conservative religious roots with a need to reach out to less traditional sections of the electorate.

      (The PDs are a whole other phenomenon: the public knew precisely what they stood for and didn’t care for it.)

    • Eoin says:

      The Poisoned Chalice that Bertie passed onto Brian has now been passed to Enda. Fine Gael have inherited a country on its knees and there will not be any sudden recovery and everyone lives happily ever after. There are huge decisions to be made by Fine Gael that are not going to be popular with the people that elected them. Now they will say they have to try and repair the damage done by Fianna Fails 14 years but the people will cop on to that cop out very quickly. I think that a Fine Gael / Fianna Fail coalition would make more sense. Two centre right parties together and all the left together in Opposition to keep an eye on them. Wouldn’t it be great to see the civil war finally put behind us and Irishmen and Women coming together at last to work for the country as a team.

    • Bellminx says:

      Are Freemasons the driving force behind RTE these days I ask rhetorically……..
      That might explain the attitude to the Catholic Church, in particular and our heretofore main political party, which aside from being in government during the recent economic downturn (and making mistakes that any other party would have also made and maybe worse) had done great things for this country throughout its short history as a republic. Ta bron orm nuair a feicim cad a tharla don Fianna Fail. Ta deora mora ag titim as mo suile a bhi gorm roimhe, cosúil leis an speir agus anois……….dubh cosúil leis an oiche. Is mise ag caoineadh cosúil leis an bhean sleibhe ag caoineadh a mhic…………I love TG4 now (not all programmes though) and am really trying to brush up on my Irish again. Hate RTE. Restoration and return — way to go Fianna Fail.

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