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Mixed messages, alarm bells, and unforced errors as unity takes a holiday

Hugh O'Connell


It's been a long week in politics, with confusion over travel and a tricky relationship at the top, writes Hugh O'Connell

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FLAGGING: Micheal Martin started the week in Brussels where he helped to broker an EU stimulus package that should net Ireland some €5bn to deal with Covid and Brexit in the coming years. Photo: Stephanie Lecocq, Pool Photo via AP

FLAGGING: Micheal Martin started the week in Brussels where he helped to broker an EU stimulus package that should net Ireland some €5bn to deal with Covid and Brexit in the coming years. Photo: Stephanie Lecocq, Pool Photo via AP

AP

FLAGGING: Micheal Martin started the week in Brussels where he helped to broker an EU stimulus package that should net Ireland some €5bn to deal with Covid and Brexit in the coming years. Photo: Stephanie Lecocq, Pool Photo via AP

The more Leo Varadkar heard from his new Fianna Fail Cabinet colleagues, the more concerned he became.

As Michael McGrath, Dara Calleary and Stephen Donnelly, the Health Minister, took to the airwaves earlier last week to clarify foreign travel advice ahead of the publication of a green list, they appeared to succeed only in muddling the government message further. As Varadkar later said: "Ministers were doing interviews and predicting what the decision might be."

The kicker came last Monday afternoon when Donnelly took the unusual step as a senior minister to do a clip with RTE on the plinth at Leinster House - instead of the courtyard in Government Buildings. He, in effect, said that irrespective of the imminent green list the advice was that no one should travel abroad unless for essential reasons.