Fine Gael and Fianna Fail: the dance of the 58 veils stops here

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Snookered. Between a rock and a hard place. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Take any of these three statements and they fit Fianna Fail like a well-tailored hair-shirt.

The problem for Fianna Fail is that they had an astonishingly good election. Lazarus coming blinking from the tomb was nothing compared to Micheál and his mates when they discovered that the public had put aside the stakes and garlic and weren’t planning to hunt them down any more. All right, compared to the good old days, this election brought one of the worst election results Fianna Fail has had in its history. But compared to what happened to them in 2011, this election mended their wings and they are flying.

Or they should be.  Alas,  after 58 days of shadow-boxing and tea and biscuits and late night sessions, Fianna Fail finds – to its horror – that it’s hit a road block. Rent supplements, reducing hospital waiting lists, tax credits for childcare – those things do divide them from Fine Gael but they’re amenable to a bit of twisting and straightening, after which all could be resolved. But the gun thrust into the mouth of Fianna Fail is water charges.

How so? Well, Fianna Fail made the very big mistake in its election manifesto of being agin water charges. Fine Gael, having introduced them, feels it has to stick by them in one form or another. So after much midnight-oil burning, Fianna Fail says it wants Irish Water abolished (renaming it would do) and all water charges suspended for five years. Fine Gael says that their party may live dangerously but it hasn’t a death wish: there must be water charges. Rock and hard place, damned if you do and damned if you don’t. And in case the public might miss the point, Gerry Adams in his keynote address to the Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis last night held Micheál’s feet to the fire/water. You said in your manifesto you were against water charges, Micheál, and now you’re trying to put Fine Gael back in power and with it the odious water charges.

Some think the past 58 days of non-government have been a total disaster. Not so – not total. Because the past 58 days have shown us something  a lot of people have been suspecting for some time. When it comes down to the crunch, when the cards are on the table, there are no, repeat no serious differences between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. But but but, you say. Haven’t you just argued that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are diametrically opposed on the matter of water charges? Yes and no. They’re so opposed, they may be reluctantly forced into another election if things don’t get resolved inside the next day or two. But consider what divides them and what may mean a new election.  Fine Gael want to maintain water charges, Fianna Fail want – no, not to abolish water charges.  Fianna Fail wants them to kick the water charges can down the road – five years down the road. Then it’ll bring in water charges under another name.

It’s as if the last 58 days have been a very slow striptease act by the two parties. Now they stand naked, and they’re like twins who can’t abide each other. Ah here, guys. Would you for God’s sake stop cavorting, put on your clothes and merge your parties. That’d get a government, wouldn’t it?


6 Responses to Fine Gael and Fianna Fail: the dance of the 58 veils stops here

  1. Jim Neeson April 24, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    There is going to be a minority Government, thats for sure. For a while at least. The Independants are truly Independants, they will go with whoever is in Power. Oh for the Tony Gregorys of the past !!!. In the short term the only real Opposition is Sinn Fein. They are the ONLY party that could put a bit of Manners on the rest of them.True Opposition can often lead to more electoral support. Our Gerry is not daft you know !!!!

  2. Jim Neeson April 24, 2016 at 9:17 am #

    There is going to be a minority Government, thats for sure. Even if that is only for a short while. The Independants are truly Independant,i.e from reality. Oh for the days of Tony Gregory !!! Sinn Fein will be the only real Opposition and they will put a bit of manners on the rest of them. Being in Opposition can sometimes be rewarding in future Electoral battles. Our Gerry is not daft you know !!!

  3. Sherdy April 24, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    You mention how surprised Fianna Fail were at their good election results, but then you say they made a mistake in saying they were against water charges.
    But had they not put that claim in their manifesto, how would that have changed the election result?
    I am sure they would not have gained the position of second top-dog party, and we would have had a totally different political conundrum.

  4. ben madigan April 24, 2016 at 11:03 am #

    The country now faces another general election after talks between Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin collapsed yesterday in bitter acrimony over water charges.

    Fine Gael accusing Mr Martin of being “spooked” by political attacks from the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

  5. Perkin Warbeck April 24, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    There is a phrase in Leprechaun, Esteemed Blogmeister, which may not be entirely irrelevant to the current blockage in the political system south of the Black Sow’s Dyke:

    -Uisce faoi thalamh.

    Which literally translates as ‘underground water’ but is actually a metaphor for ‘intrigue’.
    Which automatically leads one to speculate on the role of one of the most intriguing of all underground political pipe layers of the age. When he is not acting out the political part of one of the finest Stand Up Chameleons the Free Southern Stateen has never seen, but has often heard, read and/ or read about.

    That is, when he is not gazing out his 26th floor window in the Sindo, the window from which, on a fine day, one can see forever, and on a fine gaeler day, even further. Standing up, of course.

    Now, last week, one would have thought of the Stand Up Chameleon as being a Fianna Failure but as the most celebrated of his self-coined catchphrases reminds us:

    -Dat was den, boy, dis is NOW !

    It would appear that, after proving a failure to turn Irish Water into a fine wine fit for the palette of the politically sophisticated the Rod Hull of Hibernia (for it is he !) may well have reached a very cross-roads. He may well be tempted to put on his Harris Tweed jacket, leave the, erm, Cold House of realpolitik and take the lift to the roof of Dependent House. For a breath of head-clearing air.

    Where he can be out on his, erm, own.

    To ponder the experiment of taking his fellow-Corkonian and making a House-Martin emulate Emu, the mute, highly aggressive, arm-length puppet much given to sudden, unprovoked attacks on anything and anybody that came too close, with this, erm, proviso: they were brand-marked SF.

    Sadly, the experiment would appear to be a failure, even a failure of Fianna proportions. The cool clean hero has regrettably proved not to be a Fine McCool hero of mythical dimensions.

    -Ni fiu uisce na n-ubh e / He is not worth the water in which eggs have been boiled.


    -Ni feidir sparan sroil a dheanamh as Mici na muice, ag dul ar aghaidh.

    (Due to terms and conditions to do with copyright, fortunately this old saw is not available in translation).

    Let us hope that the Honorary Spin Doctor does not stay too long up above, whistling the old political Drifter’ s hit:

    -Right smack dab in the middle of town
    I’ve found a paradise that’s trouble proof (up on the roof)
    And if this world starts getting me down
    There’s this roof where there’s room for me all on my glorious (gulp) Eoghan.

    Alas, like most things in these impecunious and safety conscious days, it does not come without a wealth warning on the basis that health is the only wealth.

    For, on St. Patrick’s Day 1999, the original Rod Hull climbed up on the roof of his bungalow, to adjust his aerial the better to improve the television reception. It is not certain which programme was being broadcast at the time.

    But even the corgis in Talbot Street know that if it had been the Rod Hull of Hibernia it would certainly have been the broadcast of a Crown Prince presenting the Irish Guards with their compulsory shamrock, given the day that was in it, going backwards. That would be the red-haired royal with the freckles who bears more than a passing resemblance to the boy beside the donkey in a Connemara bog on the fabled John Hinde postcard.

    Tragically, the original Rod Hud slipped on the roof and fell through the adjoining greenhouse.

    Emu: The End.

  6. Ryan April 24, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

    I think Fianna Fail’s issue here is they support Water Charges in their hearts but for election purposes pretended to be against them. Now when it has come to the crunch they have to choose whether to honour their promises (Ha!) or go back on their word which will deliver a blow to the Soldiers of Destiny at the next election and will garner more support for those pesky Shinners.

    Micheals master plan of kicking the water charging can down the road 5 years wont wash with the public. They know its Fianna Fail going back on their word and simply breaking their promise in 5 years time instead of immediately. Parties like People Before Profit and Sinn Fein will make sure the public know that’s the case.

    As I said before, Fianna Fail won a battle at the General Election in February but they didn’t win the War. In many ways it would’ve been better if Fianna Fail had have only got around 30 TD’s and Sinn Fein had have got around 40, so Fianna Fail could say they were the official opposition and be favourites at the next election of having a majority to form the Irish Government. If that had happened then Sinn Fein would be the ones now being pressured into forming a Government with Fine Gael and the Shinners would’ve definitely have had to make compromises on red line issues, such as water charges. If they refused then another election would’ve had to come and the Shinners would’ve been getting the blame for dragging the electorate back out to vote.

    I really don’t know whats going to happen, I sometimes think another election is going to happen and then I feel that Fianna Fail cant resist the lure of power even if it is with Fine Gael and will form a Government. I just hope the latter happens.

    PS: Isn’t it interesting how before the election FG/FF were casting up the PIRA against Sinn Fein at every opportunity but are now suddenly quiet? Wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact they are willing to share power with the Shinners?….