Wednesday 16 August 2017

Transparency makes all the difference between a fair deal and a grubby one

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin with pupils from St Joseph's Primary School in Macroom, Co Cork, who were visiting Leinster House before the deal with Fine Gael was announced on Tuesday evening Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin with pupils from St Joseph's Primary School in Macroom, Co Cork, who were visiting Leinster House before the deal with Fine Gael was announced on Tuesday evening Photo: Tom Burke
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

Politics is a messy business. It is messy in every democracy in the world. When cutting deals, individual politicians have many things to consider: their own interests, the interests of those they represent, their values, what is achievable and what they cannot accept. Those in political parties must also do these things collectively.

All this involves squaring many circles and keeping lots of balls in the air. As if that was not difficult enough, politicians and parties cannot just think about the deals they make as one-shot solutions. They need to be like chess players, considering how others will react to each possible move they make. The most effective politicians tend to be ones who can think many moves ahead and who can read how others - both rivals and colleagues - will react as events unfold.

Given all this, it was entirely predictable that talks to form a government would break all previous records in duration. It was more inevitable still given that the fragmented nature of the 32nd Dáil is without parallel in living memory, or indeed in the world - no country has anything like the number of Independent parliamentarians that we now have.

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