Creed the Conflicted keeping quiet about his choice
Miriam Lord: Do Rebel County politicians miss the big picture if one of their own is involved?
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed. There is a lot of interest in his intentions due to his special status as The Quiet Man. Word is that he isn’t going to name a name until the weekend hustings are over – if at all
During Dáil questions, Enda was joined by The Quiet Man. Otherwise known as Michael Creed. He’s no John Wayne. “Get off your horse and nail your colours, hombre....”
Michael is the Minister for Agriculture. He is a Fine Gael TD for Cork North West. So he must be supporting Simon Coveney for the leadership of his party. It seems to be in the rules.
Thanks to this contest people are discovering that if you are a Fine Gael TD or Senator from Cork and a candidate from your beloved county is running for a big job, you must vote for him. Or face the consequences. Which must be massive, because almost everyone toes the line.
In the race to find Enda Kenny’s successor, just one national politician from the substantial elected ranks of Cork parliamentarians has found the backbone to voice support for the other runner in the race – the non-Corkonian.
Could it be that public representatives from the Rebel County fail to see the national picture when one of their own is involved?
Are they so regionally biased as to be incapable of supporting a similarly qualified government Minister who comes from outside the county boundary? Or perhaps, and they may be completely right, they have recognised that Coveney is the better man.
Yet again, highlighting that the rest of the country is out of step.
But it seems very strange that, when colleagues from every other part of Ireland are declaring in much greater numbers for Varadkar, they stick stolidly by their Cork man.
On the other hand, there have been quite a few declarations from inside The Pale for Coveney, one of them coming from Dublin 4 and another from the royal borough of Dún Laoghaire.
Coveney was first out of the traps last week when he went public with the parliamentary party members who rallied to his side. As they walked towards the cameras, the preponderance of politicians from his particular neck of the woods was striking.
Coveney’s single Cabinet supporter is Simon Harris, who wouldn’t be the biggest political name in Wicklow’s rural hinterland. Harris hails from Greystones, home of The Happy Pear, where they know a thing or two about mashing avocados. But Simon H hasn’t felt the need to declare for his nearest geographical neighbour, who hails from the Castleknock area of Dublin.
Varadkar could be the best ever candidate for Taoiseach, but you can’t help thinking that, if Finbar, a unicycling hamster from Clonakilty, were to stand against him, Finbar would automatically corner the Cork vote.
Pedalling Finbar came to mind while we watched Creed, sitting disconsolately beside his Taoiseach in the near empty chamber, as Enda went through the weekly drill of answering questions on matters relating to his department.
Questions on Agriculture were not scheduled on Wednesday so there was no reason for Creed to be in the chamber. Perhaps he was hiding until it was time for him to go to the Seanad, where he was due to speak in the afternoon.
The Minister for Agriculture is outstanding in his own field at the moment. Apart from Michael Noonan, who is a former party leader and enjoys a special dispensation in this regard, Creed is the only Fine Gael Cabinet member not to have indicated a preference for leader. He is sitting on the fence and looking decidedly unhappy about it.
Unlike Rebel County rebel Jim Daly of Cork South West, who declared very early on that he is a Leo man. But then Daly has always done his own thing.
There is a lot of interest in Creed’s intentions due to his special status as The Quiet Man. Word is that he isn’t going to name a name until the weekend hustings are over – if at all.
A clue to what might be holding him back could be found in the topic he addressed when he finally got to the Seanad. “Statements on Areas of Natural Constraint.” It was like they were asking him to stand up and speak about his leadership quandary.
Creed, it is being said, is naturally constrained by boundaries which bind him to his Cork electorate, a constituency which may not look too kindly upon him the next time out if he betrays their local standard bearer Coveney.
Around the corridors, where the trivia of a tousle between two sides of the one Fine Gael coin is providing a sport-for-all diversion, it is whispered that Creed is a Varadkar man but can’t declare his true feelings for fear of retribution at the ballot boxes. Very Mills and Boon.
Others might call it a case of “having your drisheen and eating it” .
Another interesting player involved in this, mercifully brief, leadership election interlude was in the chamber. Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Minister of State for Health and TD for Laois-Offaly, sat in for most of Leaders’ Questions.
Perhaps, like Creed the Conflicted, she too was trying to hide. Although Marcella is in a much better situation what with being at the centre of a bizarre tug-of-love episode involving the Coveney and Varadkar camps.
Change her mind
She has rowed in behind Coveney. But Varadkar commented on Tuesday that she might change her mind when she beholds his wonderful health policy. But the Coveney camp say Marcella is for keeps. It’s great to be wanted.
Meanwhile, the sun was splitting the stones on the plinth and summer had truly arrived in Kildare Street when veteran Fine Gael backbencher Bernard Durkan (undeclared) sashayed into the chamber for the first time this year wearing his famous “Man from Del Monte” cream linen jacket. It may once have been white, but the garment has aged gracefully with time.