This hotch-potch government must hang together - or hang separately
Downing on politics...
Published 28/09/2016 | 02:30
I've always like the old gag about the shipwrecked Irishman washed up on a foreign shore. After he gathers himself a little, he asks a local some political questions.
"Is there a government here?" he asks. "Of course," comes the reply.
"Well, then I'm 'agin' it!" says the Irishman.
That old one comes to mind as our TDs grace Leinster House again today after a 10-week absence, bar that one day earlier in the month when they came back to debate the EU's €13bn Apple tax ruling.
It will be a packed agenda between now and Christmas, so they'll have to hit the ground running. This day fortnight is Budget Day - a day on which farmer organisations will hope to see some incentives to lift the gloomy autumn mood of many farmers.
Yesterday marked seven months to the day since the general election on February 26. The creaky hotch-potch minority coalition which finally emerged after 70 days of low-energy negotiations has never looked too durable.
It's a mix of Fine Gael and diverse Independents, supported by Fianna Fáil from the outside. Its main cohesion is derived from the only sentiment shared by all 158 TDs - a will to avoid another early election.
The Coalition has not been able to do very much and it is hard to see it biting the bullet on some of the hard issues coming up. But two opinion polls before the Dáil's return threw up some interesting facts worth drilling into.