A political crisis and a looming general election

 

A chara, – I was really looking forward to this Christmas until I learned that there is a likely chance of a general election during it. I love when family, friends and neighbours call to my door. I enjoy when carol singers call to my door. I anticipate people from charities calling to my door. I get excited when our postman and couriers call to my door. But the thought of politicians calling to my door during the festive season looking for the gift of my vote? Bah humbug! – Is mise,

JASON POWER,

Dartry,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – An appetite for a general election in Dáil Éireann? Surely the ultimate case of turkeys voting for Christmas. – Yours, etc,

IVAN RUSK,

Quin, Co Clare.

Sir, – Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil are vying to be at the forefront of collapsing the Government next week by putting down a motion of no confidence in Frances Fitzgerald. However, it is strange that both parties are suddenly so keen to act resolutely, and almost in unison, against the Government.

“We will not allow the opposition to bully us”, says Martin Heydon, chairman of the Fine Gael parliamentary party. If only it was that straightforward.

Have the latest dramatic developments got anything to do with the historic decision of Sinn Féin at their ardfheis to go into power in the Republic as soon as feasible and as junior members of a coalition? And is it connected in any way to Gerry Adams’s decision to finally step down as leader after 34 years? Has there, by any chance, been recent intensive behind-the-scenes contacts between Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil?

I wonder if this whole sorry episode is, in fact, little more than a cynical politically motivated and manufactured “crisis” designed to bring about an early general election. Are we looking at the prospect of a Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil government, should they get the numbers, in the very near future? – Yours, etc,

JOE McCARTHY,

Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7 .

Sir, – Will it all be over by Christmas? – Yours, etc,

PAUL McCARRICK,

Galway.

Sir, – Could our representatives please stop the self-serving, self-righteous playing of politics? The last thing our country needs at a crucial stage of Brexit talks is political instability. – Yours, etc,

TERRY PATTISON,

Glenageary,

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

A chara, – I have no particular animus against Frances Fitzgerald. Indeed, in a culture where Ministers are rarely held to account to the extent of having to step down, I am sure it must seem harsh both to her and her colleagues that people are calling for her head over this – and for once to have the muscle to enforce that call and to have made it clear that she can either go alone or go and take the whole Government with her.

However, she knew what she knew when she knew it; and that she is now embroiled in scandal because of how she dealt or failed to deal with that knowledge is no one’s fault but her own.

It seems more than a trifle ridiculous that both she and the Taoiseach feel it is worth risking a general election for the sake of preserving the principle that the buck stops nowhere in this country. – Is mise,

Rev PATRICK G BURKE,

Castlecomer,

Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – What is the deep-rooted problem with accountability in Irish government? The procedure is surely self-evident. Mistakes are made; consequences in terms of resignation or loss of office follow. Unless hubris and innate clinging to power can be stamped out, we will see the cult of the individual and party affiliations continually take precedence over viable governance and the wellbeing of the country.

That the Taoiseach supports the Tánaiste, apparently regardless of cost, is indicative of a weakness that does not instil confidence in the electorate. – Yours, etc,

JOHANNA LOWRY

O’REILLY,

Ranelagh,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – Although I have been living in this country for many years, I normally do not discuss Irish politics or events, but for once I must ask, have Irish politicians nothing more important to debate than the obscure matter of who got what email in 2015, was it read and acted upon and when, is someone’s political career in jeopardy about the issue and why? Such endless and fruitless discussions will not do anyone any good.

I should have thought that such mundane matters as the appalling and endemic housing crisis or waiting lists in hospitals should require more urgent attention. – Yours, etc,

JB DE VILLENEUVE,

Dublin 2.

A chara, – Following the opprobrium she received from the great and the good in both Ireland and Germany for calling a general election rather than concentrating on the intricacies of the Brexit negotiations, Theresa May could be forgiven for sporting a wry smile today. – Is mise,

LOMAN Ó LOINGSIGH,

Dublin 24.

Sir, – Most normal citizens expect a Government Minister to influence the actions and conduct of those who are accountable to them. The Tánaiste would like us to believe that she was somehow legally prevented from doing so.

According to the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Minister is empowered to “issue to the Garda Commissioner written directives concerning any matter relating to the Garda Síochána”. The Minister is also empowered to “establish a code of ethics that includes standards of conduct and practice for members of the Garda Síochána”.

Bearing this in mind, when the Minister was made aware of the then-commissioner’s strategy to attack the credibility of a serving member of An Garda Síochána, she was far from being legally prevented from doing anything.

She could at the very least had asked the commissioner some questions. What allegations had been made against the member? When were these made? Had they been investigated? What was the outcome? And, if they had already been investigated and there was no case to answer, why were the allegations being brought to an inquiry?

A few simple questions from the Minister might have saved herself and everyone else a lot of the questions we have been hearing over the last week. – Yours, etc,

SEAMUS O’CALLAGHAN,

Carlow.

Sir, – If the Government falls, the work of the Oireachtas committee will cease and a referendum on the Eighth Amendment will be further delayed. One wonders whether the current political crisis is manufactured by politicians reluctant for change. – Yours, etc,

Dr BRENDAN

McDONNELL,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – Has Justice become the new Health? – Yours, etc,

SIMON CRONIN,

Westport,

Co Mayo.

Sir, – The country does not need, and probably cannot afford, a general election at this time nor in January. The Brexit negotiations regarding the island are of such an important nature that the country does not need to have its elected officials distracted from that task. And if the Government fell now, would the country have to wait until January to choose who runs it? Given Christmas and the cold weather, turnout would probably be comparatively low.

The Taoiseach does not want to sack the Tánaiste. The Opposition parties want to bring down the Government by trying to pass a vote of no confidence in the Tánaiste.

The solution is for Ms Fitzgerald to resign her office, making it clear that such action is not an admission of culpability but that she is choosing this course for the good of the country. – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN MARTIN,

Broadstairs,

Kent, England.

Sir, – If Micheál Martin backs down now, he’ll look weak and the electorate won’t like it. If he forces an election, the electorate won’t like it.

It appears Fianna Fáil has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of inert mediocrity. – Yours, etc,

DAN O’NEILL,

Ringsend,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – If every TD were forced to resign over a forgotten key detail, the Dáil would be close to empty. Mind you, the faulty memory syndrome is endemic to the political class throughout Ireland. I wonder is there a cure? – Yours, etc,

TIM O’PREY,

Belfast.