Saturday 3 December 2016

Hapless Coalition has capitulated and now stares into watery grave

A series of blunders could spell the same fate as that of the 1977 FG-Labour coalition government

Published 02/08/2015 | 02:30

'Neither of the actual 'leaders', Enda Kenny nor Joan Burton, impressed at the banking inquiry. That in itself is far from fatal, but it did show up weaknesses'
'Neither of the actual 'leaders', Enda Kenny nor Joan Burton, impressed at the banking inquiry. That in itself is far from fatal, but it did show up weaknesses'

It was the beginning of the long, hot summer of 1977. The general election had just been called by the Fine Gael and Labour National Coalition. And a group of its Dublin-based ministers and aides were gathered in a hotel room to hear the results of a private opinion poll they had commissioned from MRBI.

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Polls were almost unheard of in those days, but the widespread view of commentators and pundits was that the Coalition was a certainty to be re-elected. That myth was about to be shattered. MRBI told the gathering that 59pc of those polled said they intended to vote Fianna Fáil. Game over. The stunned silence was broken only by the sound of teacups being placed back on saucers and, eventually, the distinctive tones of Garret FitzGerald asking, "Can we undissolve the Dail?"

Sometimes, the moment when a government realises the next election is already lost is clear cut. There was a sense last week, when the news came through of Eurostat's ruling on Irish Water, that this might be one of those moments.

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