Forming a government


Sir, – In his Inside Politics column (Opinion & Analysis, April 11th), Pat Leahy writes: “A Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil coalition may not be as fragile as it sounds.” That too is my expectation.

I do regret that the Greens are holding back, but in these unprecedentedly tough times what we now need more than ever are politicians with “fire in their bellies” (Seán Lemass).

We should not be so quick to dismiss the prospect of a minority government. It is widely argued that the best government this country has ever seen was the minority government of Seán Lemass (1961-1965). Lemass was 65 when he took the reins of power. The country was in deep stagnation, robbed of the energy and spirit of its youth through mass emigration. He had to move fast to shift the country from the economy of stagnation to the economy of growth.

Knowing that heads on shoulders were more important than bums on seats, he appointed his best and brightest to key posts in the cabinet. He outmanoeuvred the opposition every time they threatened to pull the plug and then in 1965 went to the country, gained two seats and came back with his majority.

I believe that Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin will be a formidable pair.

Mr Varadkar has won the confidence of the people by the measured manner in which he is handling the Covid-19 challenge, demonstrating sound judgment and sure-footed leadership.

Micheál Martin is a principled and experienced politician; he was the best minister for education since the heady days of Paddy Hillery and Donagh O’Malley. He played a significant role in the drafting of the Belfast Agreement and European treaties during his time in foreign affairs.

He was a very good minister for health and displayed great courage and conviction when he faced down vested interest and brought in the smoking ban, which saved lives. I believe that he showed sure-footed statesmanship in the manner in which he practised confidence and supply. I can say that I know Micheál Martin better than most. I was well into my career when he entered Cork City Council, and he approached every issue with integrity and intelligence, with no ego whatever. He has decent values and understands the needs of the people, rural as well as urban. I believe that, working together, Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin could give us a government that is up to the needs of the nation at this most critical of times. They deserve our wholehearted support, and nothing less. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – May I humbly suggest to the leaders and TDs of the three second-tier parties in the Dáil that their (and our) best interests would be served by postponing any further separate discussions with representatives of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Instead the Greens, Social Democrats, and Labour should sit down together, just the three of them, and work out a common policy platform, on the basis of which they could then enter collective negotiations with the two principal parties. If they could do this, their offer to enter government would be both conclusive and unanswerable. Without this block of 23 seats no stable administration can, apparently, be formed. The five parties together would have the clear potential to form a stable and broadly based government, which is clearly what the country so badly needs. It might not be easy, and it would clearly need to be tackled without delay, but it looks to me like the best option available. – Yours, etc,



Co Meath.

Sir, – Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil appear to have settled their differences on the shape of a new government. Must we now wait for the Green Party and others to join in a centrist coalition, one that would have the power and intelligence to guide our country through the maze of crises that are hurtling down the tracks? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 5.

Sir, – More of the same? Wow. We are all completely beside ourselves. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.