How will May unify the disunited kingdom?
Published 14/07/2016 | 02:30
To the true-blue Tory, Margaret Thatcher was the epitome of reason and consensus. It did not stop her leading the United Kingdom into industrial and actual war in edgy times. As the Iron Lady saw it: "I am extraordinarily patient - provided I get my own way in the end."
Yesterday, Theresa May became the UK's second female prime minister in a country riven by uncertainty. In her first briefing, she spoke of the need for unity.
Mrs May has carefully cultivated an aura of dependability and unflappability, qualities which will be needed, given the turbulence she will face in the Brexit buffeting. Her unimpeachable record as an immensely experienced politician has won her wide respect. She will need every bit of it to engineer an orderly disengagement from Europe for the world's fifth-largest economy.
And as the door opened on one prime ministerial career, it closed on another. Over his six years in office, David Cameron was a good friend to Ireland, strengthening relationships and building trust. Bowing out, he quipped: "I was the future once." Theresa May is the future now.
Hopefully, she can manage a smooth transition and also take up where Mr Cameron left off, reinforcing links between our countries. Mr Cameron will be remembered for being the prime minister who took the UK out of Europe. It may not have been his intention, but he will still carry the responsibility.
The enormity of that decision and the challenging consequences it is sure to present must now be met by Mrs May. She will have many important issues to contend with, but only one vital one: how to unite a disunited kingdom?
Mrs Thatcher once mockingly asked: "What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner 'I stand for consensus?" Mrs May has an opportunity to find out.
'Leprechaun economics' and a lack of leadership
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has quelled the mini-rebellion in his party. Again. The Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting turned into a typical damp squib, with the ire of backbenchers now turning to James Reilly, the reappointed deputy leader of the party. Kenny offered to have coffee with the dissenters.
The public would be forgiven for wondering about the priorities of the main Government party. While Fine Gael TDs engaged in naval-gazing, the international damage done by our 'leprechaun economics' GDP growth figures continues to reverberate.
Michael Noonan now accepts that the 26pc growth in the country isn't based on the reality on the ground.
The Finance Minister says the data didn't relate to the real economy and won't be used as the basis for the Budget.
But if the Government can't take our economic performance seriously, how does it expect anyone else to?
At a vital time when leadership and certainty are required, we get a lack of focus and internal squabbling.
Meanwhile, Shane Ross says he wants to ensure there is a stable Government and that the difficulties in the Coalition have been put behind them. This, from a minister who ignored the Attorney-General's advice last week and voted the opposite way to his Cabinet colleagues.
No doubt if the Central Statistics Office was measuring the credibility of Minister Ross's statement, it would say there was a 26pc chance of him being taken seriously.
It's a not-so-great little nation.