Saturday 19 October 2019

Too early to rule out FG/SF Coalition

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams
Enda Kenny

John Drennan

One of the most curious features of Irish coalitions is that they generally occur between parties which genuinely detest each other.

Sometimes one does get a union of hearts and minds.

But, since Coalition became almost compulsory the strangest of mixed marriages have occurred.

The precedent was set by Dessie O'Malley who left Fianna Fail to save the Republic from Charlie Haughey and joined him in government four years later.

Similarly, after claiming it was ruled by an evil spirit and unfit for government Dick Spring sprang into bed with Fianna Fail with some alacrity.

One could, in fairness, hardly blame him given that the alternative was Taoiseach John Bruton.

Mind you, when the figures were right, the same Mr Spring grabbed poor Bruton in an equally lethal embrace three years later.

Now we are being told there is absolutely no possible chance that Enda and Gerry would indulge in the foul coalition deed. In fairness, few individuals arouse such a visceral sense of loathing in Mr Kenny as Mr Adams.

But, what is Mr Kenny to do should we arrive at a scenario after the next election where the only alternatives are a Fianna Fail/Sinn Fein coalition of incompetence or a patriotic union of Fine Gael and Sinn Fein?

The good leader surely in that scenario is not the one who leaves the battle field to run away and fight another day.

However, whilst Fine Gael continue to frantically deny that the notion of a civil partnership of Sinn Fein and Fine Gael has ever darkened the normally pastel thoughts of Enda, Mr Kenny has some form in that regard.

So far, on two occasions Frank Flannery has been the canary sent out to the coal-mine of a Sinn Fein coalition.

On both occasions the canary died but that may not deter Enda from chancing a third journey.

Cutting Labour loose would be a decision taken in great sorrow, but if the numbers are not there and stable government is needed, a patriotic sacrifice would be required.

Marraiges after all, even of the political type, are things to be endured rather than enjoyed.

It may not even be beyond the bounds of possibility that Enda could portray himself as a sort of Queen Victoria style figure civilizing the unruly Sinn Fein natives.

Indeed what better time would there be for Enda, the latest Fine Gael successor to Michael Collins, to accept the homage of his Sinn Fein 'partners' than on the reviewing stand of the Easter 1916 commemorations?

It could also be argued that such a radical departure as Sinn Fein in government would need to come accompanied by the vestal authority provided by the Taoiseach's office to secure the general acquiescence of the voters.

It is not as if Enda need even take any pleasure in the act.

John Drennan's Guide to Politics - Spring 2015

The next election will change your life. In a special supplement with the Sunday Independent, John Drennan presents his guide to Irish politics.

He would instead be a man engaging in an act of patriotic sacrifice rather than political avarice.

The further benefit for Enda of the tart nature of his exchanges with Gerry is that Enda cannot be accused of being soft on Sinn Fein or soft on the causes of Sinn Fein.

Some would claim that something odd would surround the spectacle of the socialists of Sinn Fein going into coalition with a party of the right.

Somehow we suspect that if Sinn Fein can coalesce with the DUP they will be able for Fine Gael.

So could it yet be the case it will be 'Dear Leader' Enda who will unite the republican traditions and heal the Civil War wounds?

As for Fine Gael, if a bit of moonshine is needed to sell the thing then a few lines about the historic symbolism of the party which declared the Republic in 1949 becoming the ones to accept the surrender of the Sinn Fein irredentists who refused to recognise that Republic should do.

It would take a lot of accidents and a series of horrible alternatives for the nightmare ... apologies ... dream to come through.

And it would ultimately require a standing aside by Mr Adams (Don't worry Gerry, you can be Minister for Poetry or something) and the apotheosis of Mary Lou before Fine Gael could swallow the Sinn Fein fly.

Hold on to your hat middle Ireland and be very careful, for if you are not, the Fine Gael/Sinn Fein express could be coming your way sooner than you think.

Sunday Independent

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