Tuesday 21 May 2019

Comment: Micheál's boxed into a corner - so he'll just have to fight his way out

 

Think-in: Micheál Martin with, from left, Anne Rabbitte, Fiona O’Loughlin, Lorraine Clifford-Lee, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, and Lisa Chambers, in Malahide. Photo: Tony Gavin
Think-in: Micheál Martin with, from left, Anne Rabbitte, Fiona O’Loughlin, Lorraine Clifford-Lee, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, and Lisa Chambers, in Malahide. Photo: Tony Gavin
John Downing

John Downing

The French often say: "There are not 36 solutions to this problem."

The problem we speak of right now is the pickle Micheál Martin finds himself in as 'piggy in the middle'.

On one side, he faces Fine Gael demands for an extension of the deal underpinning the current strange Government, and on his own side there are increasingly restive calls to wind up the arrangement from within his own ranks.

The natural question - why the French opt for the numeral 36 - opens a series of rich linguistic, folkloric and cultural windows, which may be a deal more engaging that the current travails of Fianna Fáil and Micheál Martin. But, alas, we must stick with the day job.

Let's stay with the realpolitik that Fianna Fáil is not in shape to fight an election right now. Hence the aptness of that old French maxim, taken in practice to mean that there may be one, at best two, solutions to a given dilemma.

It continues to mean that Micheál Martin is going to have to box his way out of this corner and keep on boxing until he gets lucky.

And he did get lucky in a minor sort of way yesterday when the party's TDs and senators gathered in the Grand Hotel in Malahide for their pre-Dáil think-in.

Mavericks John McGuinness and Marc MacSharry had publicly voiced what some colleagues are thinking - that it is time to call a halt to this confidence and supply agreement underpinning Fine Gael in this minority Coalition. These arguments are also fuelled by a perceived arrogance on the part of the Taoiseach.

But as the day continued yesterday, the political news agenda just built and built. The latest dispiriting twist in the cervical cancer testing debacle of necessity soaked up a lot of attention.

Later came the abrupt news that President Trump was not to visit Ireland in November after all. It was news which dropped as abruptly as that revelation of his impending visit which landed 12 days ago.

The Fianna Fáil leader also worked on making his own luck, by taking the offensive, castigating the Government on health and housing. He said Health Minister Simon Harris had mismanaged the cervical test crisis. But this was an opening round. The boxing must continue.

Irish Independent

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