Sunday 4 December 2016

Enda must study a past 'ABFF' line-up for new coalition clues

Published 19/03/2016 | 02:30

Ireland’s new Cabinet under Taoiseach John A Costello, meets in February 1948. Standing, left to right, are: Daniel Morrissey, Minister for Industry and Commerce; James Everett, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs; Patrick McGilligan, Minister for Finance; Joseph Blowick, Minister for Lands; Gen Sean MacEoin, Minister for Justice; and James Dillon, Minister for Agriculture. Seated, left to right, are: Dr Noel Browne, Minister for Health; Sean McBride, Minister for External Affairs; William Norton, Minister for Social Welfare; John A Costello, Taoiseach; Richard Mulcahy, Minister for Education; Dr Thomas F O’Higgins, Minister for Defence; Timothy J Murphy, Minister for Local Government. Photo: Keystone/Getty Images
Ireland’s new Cabinet under Taoiseach John A Costello, meets in February 1948. Standing, left to right, are: Daniel Morrissey, Minister for Industry and Commerce; James Everett, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs; Patrick McGilligan, Minister for Finance; Joseph Blowick, Minister for Lands; Gen Sean MacEoin, Minister for Justice; and James Dillon, Minister for Agriculture. Seated, left to right, are: Dr Noel Browne, Minister for Health; Sean McBride, Minister for External Affairs; William Norton, Minister for Social Welfare; John A Costello, Taoiseach; Richard Mulcahy, Minister for Education; Dr Thomas F O’Higgins, Minister for Defence; Timothy J Murphy, Minister for Local Government. Photo: Keystone/Getty Images

Word around Leinster House is that Enda Kenny is trying to emulate John A Costello's 1948-1951 Interparty Government which comprised five parties and eight Independents in an 'Anybody But Fianna Fáil Coalition'.

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But even Mr Costello's daunting Dáil arithmetic in February 1948 - when he started with 31 TDs to Eamon de Valera's 68 - was better than what Mr Kenny is facing into. The bugbear now is that any minority coalition which can be pulled together, led by either of the big parties, looks like needing some form of arrangement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Perhaps it is time for the caretaker Taoiseach to have a word with his predecessor, 95-year-old Liam Cosgrave who is happily still hail and hearty having quit public life way back in 1981.

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