Friday 28 October 2016

Enda - form a government or your race is run

Published 09/04/2016 | 02:30

People point to a Paddy Power billboard on the odds for a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael coalition before the election Photo: Paul Sharp/Sharppix
People point to a Paddy Power billboard on the odds for a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael coalition before the election Photo: Paul Sharp/Sharppix

You really couldn't make it up, could you? The Soldiers of Destiny get a chance to go into government and turn back the clock of history by forming a historic partnership with the old enemy; instead, the whole proposition is dismissed in 15 minutes.

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A word to the wise in Leinster House - voters didn't vote for 'no government'.

Fianna Fáil can bang on until the cows come home about keeping promises made to their voters; in the real world, such promises are off after the people have voted. The priority then has to be to form a government. Preferably a stable one, one that can take on the massive hurdles we face over the next few years.

Maybe Micheál Martin will calm down over the weekend and get over his tantrum at being caught on the hop by acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

This is so much petulant nonsense. It is just preposterous to claim that FF's brain trust didn't see the partnership government offer coming.

As I pointed out several weeks ago, this is the only realistic, stable option. The public have also made plain that is their preferred choice. Surely someone in FF HQ has an abacus - the numbers don't stack up any other way.

Nonetheless, Leo Varadkar was quite disingenuous yesterday morning to suggest that he and his party would be quite at ease with going into another election with Enda Kenny's face all over the nation's lamp posts.

I believe Mr Kenny's race is almost run.

If he cannot put a government together, and nobody can fault his efforts, then he ought to call time on what has been a remarkable career.

Fine Gael could lose 20 seats in the next election, which certainly looks a lot closer should Enda remain.

He can't have it every which way. For his party's sake, he will have to go if he gets no traction in his quest to put a government together.

For Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, it is about putting the country first. Now is a time for "mature reflection", as the late Brian Lenihan might have said. Micheál, too, may also find his future is far less rosy having pulled the rug on the only meaningful prospect of establishing an executive. He should not let his head be turned by an opinion poll that put him ahead in the beauty stakes. The ugly truth could come in an election backlash.

So Enda and Micheál, think of the kids, you really need to talk. You are not two cranky toddlers locked in a rumpus room, tussling over a rattle. This is the future of our country on the table, and politics and, above all, the people demand and deserve better.

Moving swiftly along.

What follows the immediate aftermath of general elections? No, stupid, not government formation - as we have seen demonstrated by these losers, that's strictly optional.

Elections to the 'upper house' automatically ensue. By the last week of April, we'll know 49 of the 60 senators, and will just be awaiting the Taoiseach's remaining 11.

I voted in the referendum to abolish the Senate with enthusiastic vigour. This chamber has no power, never did. At best, it's a worthy debating society.

Why should the privilege of a university education come with exclusive electoral rights? What I saw at Leopardstown's third-level student race day - spoilt brats publicly, openly urinating - reminded me of the latest generation of elitism and entitlement.

But that's another story.

The NUI and Trinity panels each elect three senators. Expect the outgoing TCD candidates David Norris, Sean Barrett and Ivana Bacik to be re-elected.

With the retirements of John Crown and Fergal Quinn, an intense NUI battle looms to join Rónán Mullen.

Michael McDowell is best known as a former PD leader, Justice Minister, AG, as well as being a senior counsel and columnist. Having retired from front-line politics, his re-entry probably signals an unquenchable desire to unburden his opinions upon the nation. His critics will probably have to suck up his return to public life.

David Begg could still have enough former trade union allies to win.

But there are some dark horses - watch out for Padraig O'Ceide (ex-Aer Arann), Aideen Hayden, Carol Hunt and President Michael D's daughter Alice Mary Higgins.

The primary political purpose of the Senate is for providing paid employment for wannabe TDs - temporarily redundant or budding newbies.

On the five 'vocational' panels (what a joke), each party wants viable candidates for the next election. FG and FF each aim for 15 senators. Pity the exhausted, broke pretenders - they just spent €30,000 on an unsuccessful Dáil foray; now they have to fork out 20 grand for travel/accommodation across the country, plus personalised literature.

Fine Gael's runners include Maura Hopkins, Paudie Coffey, Anthony Lawlor, Kieran O'Donnell, Gabrielle McFadden, Ray Butler, Jerry Buttimer and Joe O'Reilly. Labour losers seeking redemption are Kevin Humphreys, Ged Nash and Aodhan O'Riordain. Sinn Féin's Trevor O'Clochartaigh and Padraig MacLochlainn aim to retain Oireachtas status.

In fairness, many ministers wouldn't have made it to the top without the Seanad.

These public reps are tolerable, having some contribution to make. What gets my goat is the senators who never stand for the Dáil. They court our 949 councillors in return for a cushy State-paid sinecure in the Senate. We wasted a golden opportunity when we retained this expensive political trinket.

Regular race punters know that there are handier ways to win than backing in Nationals. Today's banker bets include Douvan (3.00 Maghull novice chase), Thistlecrack (3.40 Stayers hurdle) and Yorkhill (2.25 Mersey novice hurdle). All are confidently expected to uphold their Cheltenham-winning form. But the lure of an annual flutter beckons at 5.15pm, when the white flag is raised for the 2016 Grand event.

Many Clouds has the best chance of back-to-back victories since the legendary Red Rum last achieved the feat. He's up six pounds in weight, carrying top burden of 11-10. He's classy, a superb jumper and was good as ever last time at Kelso. The value is gone at 8/1. While last year's runner-up Saint Are gets in with a mere 10-5, he's 16/1.

The best of the Irish may be Gordon Elliott's Ucello Conti, a runner-up in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown last Christmas, followed by respectable third at Gowran Park's Thyestes Chase. At 33/1, he could stay on into a place under the former winning jockey, Enniscorthy man Daryl Jacob. If the ground was softer, Jim Draper's Goonyella would excel.

The burden of my cash will weigh on Barry Geraghty's Shutthefrontdoor at 20/1 (a controversial 30-day ban consolation beckons) - a former Irish Grand National winner, he was fifth last year and is now a more mature nine-year-old; and JP McManus laid him out all year for this.

Good luck, you'll need it.

Irish Independent

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