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Inside Politics: Fine Gael TDs and Ministers felt betrayed by Tánaiste’s failure to give them full picture of events

The controversy that has engulfed the Government in recent days may be reaching a conclusion, but the scars remain.

There were only two outcomes from this particular shambles - a general election at a crucial time for Ireland or the resignation of the deputy leader of Government.

It became clear from early yesterday morning that only one of them was a realistic prospect.

Frances Fitzgerald’s position had become no longer tenable. She faced sustained criticism over the past 10 days, but it was the events of Monday night that left Ms Fitzgerald with no other option.


As the Department of Justice released its trawl of documents, Fine Gael colleagues began to turn on the Tánaiste.

The documents showed three emails were sent to Ms Fitzgerald on two separate dates in 2015 advising her of the legal strategy being pursued against a garda whistleblower by the former Garda commissioner at a commission of inquiry.

Damning as this was, it was further exacerbated by the repeated statements by Ms Fitzgerald over 12 months that she had no knowledge of such a strategy. Documentary evidence now proved otherwise.

Having publicly backed her, Fine Gael TDs and Ministers felt betrayed by her and her failure to give them the full picture of events. They used the media to vent their frustration and to send her a clear message.

She bowed to that pressure and resigned her position as Tánaiste. It is a sad end in office for a woman who dedicated her life to public service.

Now the focus shifts to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. There are rumblings of internal discontent following Mr Varadkar’s handling of the controversy.

He offered unwavering support to Ms Fitzgerald and left the party at the brink of a general election to save the Tánaiste. It has proven not to be a popular position. It was a principled stance by Varadkar, no doubt. However, there comes a time in politics where reality should take over.

Varadkar dispatched his troops over the weekend to defend Fitzgerald, and they blindly followed his orders.

Now he faces a backlash over his actions. The situation is not at breaking point or anything necessary to worry Varadkar, but it should concern him that he is facing such difficulties so early in his tenure.

The confidence-and-supply arrangement is irrevocably damaged - despite Fianna Fail and Fine Gael’s efforts to dissuade you of this. Trust has diminished, confidence is no longer in supply.

Micheál Martin may have escaped this one unharmed, but many within his party were preparing to wield the axe if he did not. Fianna Fail could not bear another climb down the mountain.

Both parties are anxious and ready for battle. The general election may not spoil your festive festivities, but the game is on, and a general election is merely a matter of weeks away.