Friday 18 October 2019

Kevin Doyle: 'Modern-day 'direct rule' sees Dublin's pace set by Westminster'

 

'There’s no doubt that events in the House of Commons are defining the political pace in Dublin.' Photo: UK Parliament/Mark Duffy/PA Wire
'There’s no doubt that events in the House of Commons are defining the political pace in Dublin.' Photo: UK Parliament/Mark Duffy/PA Wire
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

In their Leinster House offices, TDs have live feeds of what is going on in the Dáil chamber.

It's normal for 'channel one' to run on a constant loop in the background as they go about their business, take phone calls and host meetings.

But in recent weeks many have found it more important to monitor Sky News and the BBC. There's no doubt that events in the House of Commons are defining the political pace in Dublin.

During his visit to France earlier this week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar repeated a version of a line that he first tested during the Fine Gael national conference.

"The United Kingdom is very much consumed by Brexit, but Ireland and France and the EU shouldn't be consumed by Brexit," he said.

The Taoiseach has put forward the theory that "we are in control of our destiny" - but the reality is very different.

The Dáil is effectively paralysed as Opposition parties search for answers and the Government does its utmost to avoid any slips of the tongue.

There is now a routine where Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin stands up to inform the Taoiseach of the latest media leaks or statements emerging from Europe.

Quite rightly he demands to know why the public aren't being told about the nature of discussions on the future of the Border.

Then Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald seeks almost daily reassurance that the Irish Government hasn't done a complete U-turn and submitted planning applications for Border posts.

Mr Varadkar replies that he isn't involved in any 'talks' about the Border and in any event he doesn't engage in 'what if' questions. "It can be dangerous to look into the crystal ball or answer hypothetical questions," he said yesterday.

The Taoiseach goes on to provide an almost rolling commentary on the view from Europe. This week's effort was extra enthusiastic given that he's had a tête-à-tête with Emmanuel Macron and will be meeting with Angela Merkel today.

He was "heartened by the enormous support France continues to demonstrate towards Ireland".

On the subject of another Brexit extension, Mr Varadkar admitted he hasn't "had a chance to speak to everyone yet".

However, he warned there is "growing frustration" among a majority of EU countries that Brexit is taking them away from "other important matters".

The same could be said of our domestic politics.

Major decisions on issues such as carbon and property taxes are being kicked down the road with all the might that a minority government can muster.

Ministers are immune from motions of no confidence. Officials in all the main departments spend their days planning for something they hope will never happen.

And all the while we're watching Westminster.

Irish Independent

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