Monday 20 November 2017

The battlefield was littered with winners and losers

Lise Hand

Lise Hand

IT'S been a long, hard and bloody campaign, and when the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill was passed, there were winners and losers left on the political battlefield.

WINNERS

* Enda Kenny: Even his detractors agree the Taoiseach showed mettle in steering this contentious legislation through the Dail, though under pressure from the Catholic hierarchy, the pro-life Mujahideen and members of his parliamentary party.

* James Reilly: It's a rare victory for the bumbling minister who kept his cool in the chamber during the sometimes torrid debates. The safe passage of the bill helps redeem his initial clumsy handling of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy.

* The Labour Party: For once its unruly troops kept their discipline and avoided losing any TDs (see, however, loser Michael McNamara).

* Billy Kelleher: The Cork North-Central deputy was one of the few Fianna Fail TDs to impress on this issue. He gave one of the better speeches during the final debate.

* Jerry Buttimer: The chair of the Oireachtas Health Committee handled the complex abortion committee hearings with authority.

* Regina Doherty: Began as an opponent of the bill, but morphed into a vigorous supporter. She is perceived to have changed her position for genuine reasons rather than politically expedient ones.

* Paschal Donohue: Appointed the new junior minister (very) shortly after Lucinda's resignation.

LOSERS

* Lucinda Creighton: The junior minister is the biggest casualty. It's too soon to tell if her resignation on a matter of principle will impress the voters of her largely liberal constituency, or whether her star will fade on the backbenches.

* Peter Mathews: He ran as a banking expert, but it transpires he was also an expert in all matters foetus-related. He voted against the Government and was expelled from Fine Gael's parliamentary party, but no doubt he'll continue to be colourful from the back row.

* Billy Timmins and Terence Flanagan: The Wicklow and Dublin North-East deputies are also out in the wilderness, where they may remain for some time.

* Micheal Martin: Any gains Fianna Fail has made in persuading voters that it's now a progressive party have been badly damaged by the fact that a mere five TDs out of 19 voted for the bill.

* Peadar Toibin: The only Sinn Fein deputy to break ranks. Now out of the party for six months.

* Michael McNamara: Swore he was a silly muddle-head who accidentally voted against the Government at 5am. A silly mistake from the Labour man, but he got away scot-free.

* Tom Barry: His spot of 'horseplay' in which he hauled colleague Aine Collins on to his knee during a vote was caught on video and promptly went viral. Cue abject apologies, but the image of the Cork East TD as a jack-the-lad will be hard for him to live down.

* The Dail Bar: Once again the poor oul bar is in the wars for causing all sorts of trouble. But nobody actually drags the members in and forces gargle on them, you know.

Irish Independent

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