Friday 9 December 2016

Minister's problems may be too late to remedy for Coalition near its end

Published 29/10/2015 | 02:30

'The current internal coalition strife turns around Labour TD, deputy leader, and Environment Minister, Alan Kelly'
'The current internal coalition strife turns around Labour TD, deputy leader, and Environment Minister, Alan Kelly'

Anyone responsible for the care of small children will instantly understand this comparison. At a given point in the late evening, when the little superstar upends some sticky, viscous stuff all over their front, there comes the tired conclusion: "Oh well, it's almost bedtime."

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It's a reminder that terms like: "strong-willed," "very set-upon," "uncompromising," and even "very determined" could - in the adult world as much as among the blessed infant domain - be substituted by a far more accessible term: "babba stuff".

This is chiefly, but not exclusively, a swipe at macho politics - it's a simple statement about all human and symbiotic power relationships as they enter their latter stages.

As November beckons, the time-lag between now and the general election is best measured in weeks alone.

And from this date onwards, as this Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government approaches its final weeks, the struggling human relationships, the long-term entrenched political variances in outlook, not to mention the polar opposite ideologies, and the personal antagonisms found in all walks of life, loom larger.

Fine Gael and Labour have done well keeping their various tensions and divisions hidden from public view. But their relationship travails can now only be augmented by the gradual, quiet retreat of the civil servants from the discourse as they await a new dispensation.

The Government ministers from both parties have fronted up quite well with a semblance of unity which was frequently completely valid and occasionally a papering over the cracks.

When Eamon Gilmore was Tánaiste, he left gutsy battles with his west of Ireland neighbour to his key advisers. In July of last year, as Joan Burton took over from Mr Gilmore, tension at the top became more visible. But both parties soldiered on.

Now - to borrow from our "babba analogy" - the question is: is it too close to the election time for relationship repairs? Opinion polls, signalling struggling positivity for Fine Gael, and big problems for Labour, indicate that relationship-repair is not worth it for Mr Kenny, and more radical thinking outside the box is Joan Burton's only hope.

The current internal coalition strife turns around Labour TD, deputy leader, and Environment Minister, Alan Kelly.

Ascendancy

Just 15 months ago, his ascendancy, and his fervent espousal of the Irish Labour's Party's rural and small-town worker roots, were a matter of rejoicing amid some in the party.

But he must fix housing if Labour has any redemption hopes. He has promised much rental sector reform, which is key to addressing housing issues. So far, Fine Gael's signals suggest it is "too close to bed-time" to help.

Irish Independent

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