Monday 18 December 2017

Taoiseach gets respite but sterner tests lie just round the corner

John Downing

John Downing

Wednesday afternoons have a special quality at Leinster House while the Dáil is in session. Just after lunch, a sense of peace descends as those on the Government side feel assured they've survived another week.

So, the remainder of that week is allowed to find its own way off the calendar as planning for the upcoming new week, centred on the following Tuesday's Cabinet, begins to ramp up. Bertie Ahern's "three-legged stool" minority coalition, which ran from June 1997 until May 2002, exemplified this phenomenon. The latter days of the 2007-2011 Fianna Fáil-Green Party coalition also fell into this pattern of survival on a week-by-week basis.

Life is usually far easier for a government short on numbers when the Dáil is not sitting. When the TDs are in session, the week-long survival cycle extends into keeping going until Halloween, until Christmas, Easter and then summer.

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