Saturday 21 April 2018

'Chemistry good' - but beware an explosion

Micheal Martin Photo: Tony Gavin
Micheal Martin Photo: Tony Gavin
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

"Two pragmatic, professional politicians" is the way Micheál Martin described himself and Leo Varadkar after their meeting.

His summary was effectively that they'd never be friends but would work together because for all their differences neither side wants an election.

Apparently the "chemistry was good" and somehow Mr Martin came away with the feeling that "Leo has said things he clearly regrets in the past. I didn't get any of that hostility in the meeting".

So let's have a little look at what the incoming Taoiseach has said about Fianna Fáil as recently as last year.

Writing in the Irish Independent before the general election, he cautioned it could not be trusted to do what was right rather than what was expedient.

He advised voters they faced a choice between a Fine Gael-led government or "a lethal cocktail of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, left-wing smaller parties and random Independents who believe a range of competing and contradictory things".

"We won't help to rehabilitate Fianna Fáil. A so-called grand coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would be a forced marriage with Sinn Féin holding the shotgun," he said.

What the country ended up with wasn't a forced marriage; it was a politically convenient civil partnership between the parties, with random Independents on the fringes.

Yesterday, Mr Martin raised a list of concerns about how the relationship was going and received a polite 'yes dear' in response.

There was no stand-off or threat of separation. Fianna Fáil made a calculated decision to give Mr Varadkar the benefit of the doubt - for now.

It is betting that if he runs for a snap election, the public will see through a power grab.

And it is hoping that by giving him time to get his feet under the desk, some of the new leader's gloss will wear off.

It's a risky strategy.

The Dáil is around six weeks from the summer holiday, which is traditionally the period when the absent government gets a boost.

If Mr Varadkar can make his honeymoon period last until mid-July, it will probably stretch to September at which point the Budget will be put together.

The new Finance Minister won't be able to afford a 'giveaway' but, compared to the years of austerity, the news will be positive.

Expect Fianna Fáil to find a reason for chemistry explosion before the recess.

Irish Independent

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