A person would have to have a heart of stone not to feel for Fianna Fail. Yesterday one of their big beasts, Michael McGrath, lumbered onto RTÉ radio explaining why his party wouldn’t go into coalition with Sinn Féin. “It’s on economic grounds – their manifesto is so markedly different from ours,” he explained. So what was it that they, Fianna Fáil, wanted to do? “We want to address the housing crisis, the health system, child care and matters of that nature.” The RTÉ interviewer didn’t, for whatever reason, point out that these were precisely the issues that Sinn Féin wanted to address and which had featured prominently in their election manifesto. In other words, Fianna Fáil wouldn’t go into government because of SF economic plans, and Fianna Fáil wanted to be in government to put into place almost identical economic decisions. Is Michael McGrath talking through two apertures simultaneously, or am I missing something?
Meanwhile, Michael’s leader Micheál Martin is drinking nervously in the Last Chance Saloon. He knows that if he doesn’t become Taioseach this time, his days as Fianna Fáil leader are over. Leo Varadkar has been very definite about fulfilling his pre-election pledge not to sit down and sup with Sinn Féin. Were Fianna Fáil now to sit down and sup, having equally promised it wouldn’t, might look a bit, um, inconsistent. So FF has pitched its tent with a big sign in front reading ‘ABSF’ – anybody but Sinn Féin.
Unfortunately, that drives Micheál to see what could be cobbled together with Fine Gael…Only hold on. Didn’t the people say they wanted change? If FF and FG set up some sort of mutual support system, won’ t that look awfy like groundhog day to the electorate, albeit with Fianna Fáil being shored up by Fine Gael rather than vice versa?
You’d think that would be a no-no; which leaves…OMG. Another election. In which the people might cop on and vote in numbers for the good old Fianna Fáil. Or – who knows? –the electorate could flay Fianna Fáil within an inch of their political lives, while delivering another victory to Sinn Féin, only this time the Shinners would have a full slate of candidates running.
Micheál has never struck me as the most calm of men. Being cornered like this could very well send him running naked down the street, his hair threaded with snowdrops and crocuses.