Monday, January 24, 2011

Irish Drama far from over

The Irish coalition’s downfall has been one of the most remarkable events in Irish politics. Expect more volatility in this Dáil’s final days

IT IS NO exaggeration to say that the downfall of Brian Cowen’s Government has been one of the most remarkable events in Irish political history. Politics will probably never be the same again.

Over the past 10 days, the pace of events has been bewildering. Cowen’s decision to resign as leader of Fianna Fáil on Saturday, while remaining on as Taoiseach, was stunning, if inevitable. People scarcely had time to digest it when the Green Party announced its decision to leave Government yesterday.

All the extremities of language have been used in an attempt to describe what has happened, but they cannot convey the astonishing sequence of events. Most incredible of all has been the blundering of a party whose hallmark has always been its ability to win and hold power.

In one sense, though, Fianna Fáil’s self-destruction was probably inevitable. The scale of the crisis brought about by the collapse of the Celtic Tiger economy was bound to manifest itself in seismic political change sooner or later.

The expectation was that Fianna Fáil would face its moment of truth in the general election when the voters got a chance to vent their anger. What was so surprising was the manner in which the party began to implode before its term of office expired.

And the drama is far from over. In the next few days, the Dáil will have to find a way of dealing with a situation in which the Opposition has effective control of the business of the House.

The decision of the Green Party to withdraw from coalition was an inevitable reaction to the leadership crisis in Fianna Fail. The action put paid to its own plans to get prized legislation like the Climate Change Bill and waste levies into law, but the party is still sticking to its pledge to get the Finance Bill through.

The Irish Times

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