Saturday 21 January 2017

Shane Coleman: Cabinet unity, but backbenchers sing from different hymn sheets

Published 13/12/2012 | 17:00

DESCRIBING Irish politics to an outsider has never been a straightforward task. But even to those used to its vagaries and complexities, what's going on behind the scenes at the moment in government almost defies explanation.

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Imagine if it emerged that Tory backbenchers in the UK were up in arms over a move by a Liberal health minister to roll back the NHS. You'd be surprised, right?

Well consider what's happened here over the past week. The Social Protection Minister – hero of the left in her party, defender of the traditional Labour values in government – is defiantly resisting the efforts of Fine Gael backbenchers, many regarded as right wing, to reverse a cut affecting arguably the most vulnerable group in the country.

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