How Long Will the New Government Last?
Deaglán de Bréadún
As today’s drama in the Dail plays itself out, one can’t help being reminded of the accession to power of Fianna Fail and Labour back in ’92. That was a government with a huge majority – from memory, there were 101 TDs between the two parties.
At the time there was talk of “ten-year rule”, the naive assumption being that the Government would be re-elected after serving out its full five-year term. In the event, it was gone by November 1994.
At this point in time (note the qualification), it looks like the current incoming administration will last a good deal longer than that. Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore are likely to get along a lot better than Albert Reynolds and Dick Spring did in the end.
Reynolds made a perceptive remark when his tenure as Taoiseach, an office he had moved mountains to achieve, came to an end: “It’s the little things that trip you up.”
I saw Mr Reynolds in the distance on my way into Leinster House this morning. His achievement in securing the IRA ceasefire was a major one, yet he was brought down by an obscure row, the details of which very few can now recall. As FF Deputy Sean Power, one of the few to stand by Reynolds to the end, remarked to me at the time: “He climbed a mountain and stumbled on a pebble.”
Mercifully, this government does not have to cope with a security situation on a par the one that obtained in Reynolds’s time. But it has an economic nightmare to confront.
It will very soon become evident whether or not the new coalition has the capacity to lead us out of our travails. If not, then the future will be very grim for all of us. People’s expectations are high and the motto for this government must be: “Seize the day.”