International coverage of Coalition deal consistently spells ‘Micheál’ incorrectly

New York Times notes SF rise to main opposition party as shift in Irish politics

Newly elected Cabinet of the 33rd Dail meet for their first cabinet meeting in Dublin Castle on Saturday. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Newly elected Cabinet of the 33rd Dail meet for their first cabinet meeting in Dublin Castle on Saturday. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire


A steadfast refusal to spell the name “Micheál” correctly was the dominant theme in the international coverage of Ireland’s historic Coalition deal over the weekend.

“Bye bye Leo! Varadkar replaced by Michael (sic) Martin as Irish PM after coalition deal approved” the Daily Express exclaimed gleefully, after several years of critical coverage of Mr Varadkar and his pro-EU stance.

The headline appeared above a more sober report detailing how Mr Varadkar will return as “Prime Minister” in 2022 as part of the rotating Taoiseach deal.

Elsewhere the paper highlights the “chaos” around the deal and features an “Irish expert” who “blows cover on what Leo REALLY thinks about bizarre vote.” The expert is former diplomat and anti-EU campaigner Ray Bassett who tells us Mr Varadkar will be “relieved to hand over the reigns of power”. This is a change from earlier this month when the Express, citing Mr Bassett, told us Mr Varadkar was planning a second election in a “gamble to cling to power”.

The rest of the news coverage in the British right-wing press was mostly straightforward, with the Daily Telegraph writing that “British Brexit negotiators can expect little deviation from Mr Varadkar’s hard line.”


The same cannot be said for some UK columnists, such as the Mail on Sunday’s Dan Rodgers who tweeted “So after all that, Boris Brexit strategy payed off politically. And Varadkar’s didn’t”, a comment which raised several eyebrows given that just one per cent of voters cited Brexit as the most important issue in last February’s election).

Most international coverage noted the historic coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, variously categorising the parties as “centre-right” (the New York Times) or “centrists” (the BBC, Fox News).

“Although there has been little to separate them policy-wise for decades, their decision to share power in government for the first time is historic,” the BBC’s Shane Harrison wrote.

The New York Times noted the elevation of Sinn Féin to the main opposition party “could help propel a long-term realignment of Irish politics along a more conventional left-right divide.”

Mr Martin is “Widely regarded as a capable and wily career politician” who will “avoid the indignity of remaining the only Fianna Fáil leader not to become taoiseach,” Stephen Murphy of Sky News wrote.

Fox News states “the left-wing nationalist party” Sinn Féin was “shut out of the new government even though an electoral breakthrough that saw it win the largest share of the votes in February’s election. Despite coming out ahead, Sinn Féin was unable to assemble enough support to govern.”

The German newspaper De Welt notes the concessions won by the Green Party during Government negotiations after it emerged from February election as “the kingmaker”.