Wednesday 26 November 2014

'Dear Leader' will pay price for autocratic shenanigans

Taoiseach's handling of runaway inquiry offers Fianna Fail and voters chance to finish him off, writes John Drennan

Published 22/06/2014 | 02:30

Socialist  TD Joe Higgins
Socialist TD Joe Higgins

One of the many measures of the deteriorating political cunning of the Taoiseach consisted of the spectacle, last week, of puzzled FG TDs electing the even more surprised Marxist Socialist Joe Higgins to the cherished Banking Inquiry.

As FG TDs wondered how the 'Dear Leader' has got them into yet another fine mess, the debacle is all the more astonishing because of the original status of the Banking Inquiry as the Coalition's political ace in the hole.

The Inquiry would be the bolt gun that would be used to finish off Fianna Fail in the unlikely event that it might dare to bark a little before the next election.

The new reality, alas, is that despite the return of some limited degree of tranquility the Banking Inquiry is now as deceased as the dead parrot in the Monty Python Sketch.

As we should have learnt from Mahon, the conclusion of a Tribunal is predicated by how it is established.

This iron law means it was all the more critical that the establishment of an inquiry into something as critical as the collapse of the Irish banking system would be politically sophisticated.

Instead, we got a Taoiseach acting like a fool on the floor of the house blowing about how an Inquiry making findings of fact required a government majority.

It was alarming enough that Mr Kenny did not appear to know this was the political equivalent of a prosecutor requesting that a jury be filled with prosecuting counsel.

The Taoiseach's stance was all the more astonishing given that if the central objective of shafting Fianna Fail was to be secured, the vehicle had to at least appear to be neutral.

Sadly, for all those FG TDs fretting about the incipient loss of their seats Mr Kenny's crass politicisation of the Independent Banking Inquiry (to shaft FF) means the greatest losers in all this are far more likely to be Fine Gael rather than FF.

Everyone knew the objective of the 'Dear Leader' Enda has always been to use the Inquiry as a 'show trial', but, the very openness with which Enda has pre-judged the Inquiry's remit via those claims about the Fianna Fail "axis of collusion" has fatally undercut the objectives of the Taoiseach.

In the best of Stalin's show trials, the state went to great lengths to ensure the 'guilty' would be seen to confess their crimes of their own free will.

If, however, it is too obvious that the thing has been gerrymandered then sympathy can switch to the defendant in an instant for whilst the voters like a circus, they also want explanations and a trustworthy narrative that contains some degree of moral authority.

Their growing disbelief that this will happen is unfortunate enough for 'Dear Leader' Enda.

ANALYSIS Stephen Donnelly Page 24

However, if the whole banjaxed mess collapses in on itself under the weight of its faulty construction the voters will also be handed the increasingly well-used stick of incompetence to beat the Coalition with. Fianna Fail by contrast is in the happy position of resembling the ropey builder whose first response on being asked to do a small repair job is a doleful sigh of 'Jaysus who built this, Jaysus, that's a right mess'.

Like our builder, the chaos of the past fortnight has given FF a winning hand where they can enjoy the each-way bet of pretending to co-operate with the feared Inquiry whilst holding a list of its manifold inadequacies in the back pocket lest it start to rain too hard when Biffo arrives to the party.

Of course, like the medical card debacle, all the talk now is of U-turns and respect, independence and 'no Whip here'.

But, like John Grisham's 'Runaway Jury' we now have a Runaway Banking Inquiry which has spiralled out of Enda's autocratic hands. And when the Inquiry which is dead before it has even begun collapses, should he still be around, for once 'Dear Leader' Enda will be the one left holding the blame.

Sunday Independent

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