Sunday 18 August 2019

Adams will do anything to be Taoiseach in 2016

Illustration by Jim Cogan
Illustration by Jim Cogan

Eoghna Harris

Newstalk's Lunchtime with Jonathan Healy is a more robust show than RTE's News At One.

That's because a single polymath presenter - as Pat Kenny proves - concentrates the impact of interviews which are dissipated by a flurry of reporters.

So I would be slow to go on Healy's show unless I had something solid to say. Which I did last Wednesday.

I wanted to talk about two things. First, why Gerry Adams was trying to foment trouble in Fianna Fail by presenting himself as a possible coalition partner.

Second, to predict that Fine Gael could secure 36pc plus at the next General Election and form a stable government that would stay the course. Let's take these points in turn.


Last week Gerry Adams started a new Sinn Fein hare by saying he was willing to do a deal with Fianna Fail - which did not go down well either within Sinn Fein or the majority in Fianna Fail.

Two questions arise. What is Adams at? What are his chances of getting what he wants?

As far as I am aware, nobody except Senator Jim D'Arcy of FG has attempted to answer the first question.

But I believe Senator D'Arcy is correct in surmising that Adams wants more than anything to be Taoiseach in 2016, the centenary of the Easter Rising.

In short, Adams hears the clock ticking. Before he steps down he wants the top job. Wants it badly enough not to care what the junior members of the party think.

What are his chances of a doing a deal with Fianna Fail? Nil, zilch, zero as long as the party is led by Micheal Martin.

Adams has thrown a hand grenade into Fianna Fail hoping that the small rump of Fianna Fail willing to hold its nose and do business will act like a fifth column and help topple Martin.

Adams has another reason. Sinn Fein fears Martin more than any other politician in Dail Eireann.

That's because Martin makes a cogent political and moral case - not merely an economic case - against Sinn Fein. And it's the moral case that Adams fears.

Some weaker wafflers in Fianna Fail stupidly stick to economic polemics, thinking that a moral case has no purchase. But, of course, the reverse is true.

Why do polls show Sinn Fein to be a toxic political partner? Not because of its badly costed economics. It's toxic because of the ghosts of Jean McConville and Jerry McCabe.

It's toxic because of the double standards of Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald. Last week, they rightly wrung their hands over the suffering of Pauline Tully at the hands of Pearse McAuley.

But they had no word of consolation or contrition for another McAuley victim, Anne McCabe, the widow of Det Garda Jerry McCabe.

Martin calls up these accusing ghosts with the same passionate contempt for their IRA killers as Hilary Benn did in his denunciation of the Daesh fascists.

Martin's powerful speeches during debates on the Mairia Cahill case and the PSNI/MI5 report demonstrably damaged Sinn Fein, which soon after slipped at the polls.

Like Jack Lynch, Martin finds Sinn Fein politically and morally repugnant.

But so do most Fianna Fail supporters, only 9pc of whom want Sinn Fein as partners in government.

That means that the small rump of fainthearts in Fianna Fail is totally out of touch, not merely with the majority of the party, but with its own political base.

Accordingly, I have no hesitation in stating as a hard fact that the political leader least likely to do a deal with Sinn Fein is Micheal Martin.

For the sake of Irish democracy, and I know I'm not alone in this, I want both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to do well in the forthcoming General Election.

That is why FG spindoctors' claims of a FF/SF deal is so foolish. If their smearing of Martin succeeds, they would be left facing Sinn Fein, first in opposition and then in government. Do these foolish FG spindoctors think the Irish people would not punish them savagely for destroying a democratic party and helping Sinn Fein to State power ?

Instead of smearing, FG spindoctors should be trying to secure tactical voting alliances with Fianna Fail to keep out Sinn Fein.

FG need FF votes to keep SF from getting seats in places like Louth (2 SF), Monaghan (2 SF), Wexford (1 SF) Meath East (1 SF)

In all those constituencies the FF seat is secure, but without some FF votes FG will lose and SF will win.

Indeed, SF could get up to 10 extra seats and possibly even pass FF out if Fine Gael don't get the 36pc I predicted they could win on the Jonathan Healy show last Wednesday.

It's a figure I still believe can be reached with the right campaign, in spite of a Paddy Power poll showing a 3 point Fine Gael drop the next day.

The reason for that drop was the subject of a lively in-house interview when Jonathan Healy tussled with Newstalk's political editor Shane Coleman.

Coleman said the dip was within the margin of error and concluded that it could have been caused by abortion issue.

Healy rejected this on the apparently logical grounds that Enda Kenny had kicked the abortion issue out of the playing field. True, Healy held the logical high ground. But, unlike Coleman, he failed to come up with any reason for the Paddy Power poll rebuff to Fine Gael.

Applying the Sherlock Holmes principle that when you've eliminated everything impossible, whatever is left, however improbable, must be the truth, Coleman's theory is the only one that makes sense.

Coleman pointed out that it's a foregone conclusion that the Citizens' Convention is going to come up with a call to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution.

That means, as far as the pro-life activists are concerned, that Kenny has already taken sides on the Eighth Amendment issue.

Accordingly, in the absence of any other explanation, I believe Coleman is correct in saying the Fine Gael dip can best be explained by accepting that abortion played some part.

In sum, whatever small percentage of the pro-life lobby that was called up by Paddy Power's phone surveyors were annoyed enough to punish Kenny with a drop of three points.

All of which is deeply depressing. And forces us to face an unpalatable truth about Irish schizophrenia in relation to abortion.

Before telling you that truth, let me make it clear that my personal position is that abortion is mostly, but not solely, a woman's business.

Society must have some say in the matter of hedging that fraught decision with some safeguards, except in cases of rape and incest.

But here comes the hard truth. Sadly, I suspect that most Irish people prefer the status quo. That means they prefer to turn a blind eye to thousands of Irish women boarding planes for Britain every year.

The twisted thinking here is that we're not really preventing abortion when it's badly needed - after all almost anybody can raise the Ryanair fare to the UK, can't they?

Yes, it's a disgusting form of double-think. But then double-think is what we do best. It's what feeds the growing ambitions of Gerry Adams.

Sunday Independent

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