Saturday 17 March 2018

James Downey: Lenihan still the man if there is a vacancy

James Downey

James Downey

ONLY one Fianna Fail Taoiseach -- Sean Lemass -- has ever left office entirely of his own volition and at the exact time of his own choice. All the others got some assistance on the way out, ranging from a touch on the elbow to a violent shove. Even the revered Eamon de Valera was helped gently through the door.

On two occasions, the impetus came from outside the party. Charles J Haughey went at the insistence of the Progressive Democrats. Albert Reynolds resigned on the orders of the Labour Party. It is tempting to make a comparison with Fianna Fail's current coalition partners and ask if the Greens have the intelligence or the courage to make history repeat itself.

It is also tempting to assume that, with so much history to learn from, the ultimate professionals -- as we were once taught to regard them -- would know how and when to get rid of a leader who had outlived his usefulness or at any rate his popularity.

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