Friday 19 December 2014

John Drennan: Shortall's departure was 'iconic'

TD's move has exposed internal concerns over political leadership

Published 30/09/2012 | 05:00

ONE senior Labour minister described Roisin Shortall's resignation as "an iconic moment" for the party.



"It has crystallised concerns about political management at the heart of government, from a Labour perspective, where people are asking 'Is Enda giving Eamon the run-around?'.''

Another senior figure also warned that the party hasn't grasped "the full implications" and how the crisis was allowed to drift to "the state where a minister who gets the fulsome support of her Tanaiste on a Saturday resigns from government the next Wednesday".

However, they said the political reality of it is that "the acts and omissions of a Fine Gael minister made it impossible to achieve a Labour core issue and there was no political management of that problem. Roisin, in resigning, was saying that there is a problem with political management at the heart of the Government''.

A second source close to the Cabinet also confirmed that concern was escalating within the party over Mr Gilmore's management of the Government. They said that, from a Labour perspective, "there appears to be a vacuum of political direction".

Amid concerns over how "Enda appears to be winning all the battles with Eamon", another top-level Labour figure noted that "there's two partners in this Government and there has to be give and take but we have lost two ministries and they have lost none''.

This position was echoed by Labour Senator John Whelan who warned Fine Gael that "the loss of two senior Labour ministers should not be casually dismissed by our partners in Government".

The leader of the opposition, Micheal Martin, also warned that the resignation of Ms Shortall will have serious consequences for the stability of a Coalition which is increasingly dominated by the senior Fine Gael partner.

"In previous coalitions it was often claimed the Labour tail is wagging the Fine Gael dog but in this case it looks as though the Fine Gael dog has docked the Labour tail," he said.

"Ms Shortall's case, he added, "looked like a case where Labour's values in health, values which Fianna Fail absolutely share, were over-ridden by stroke Fine Gael policies.''

"The most astonishing feature of the Shortall affair was how the Labour ministers abandoned her. We in Fianna Fail were struck by the way they were seen to be falling over themselves to support James Reilly to such an extent Roisin was raising her eyes up to the heavens.

"They appeared to be universally on Fine Gael's side rather than Labour's side.''

Sunday Independent

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