There is a seasonal end-of-term giddiness about Leinster House. The summer recess is looming and the fact the Government has lost its majority is adding to the sense of unsteadiness. That billions of euro are being brandished by the coalition – and billions more are being pledged by the opposition – further fuels the feeling of midsummer madness.
Throw in a vote of no-confidence – as Sinn Féin has done – for next week and you get to wondering: What could possibly go wrong?
The main opposition party is merely looking after its interests. If the coalition cannot keep its numbers straight and its members happy, why should the opposition lose any sleep?
It is as if the febrile atmosphere from across the pond, due to the removal from office of Boris Johnson, is beginning to affect the body politic here.
All sense of proportion has not quite been lost, but the grip on reality has loosened.
Joe McHugh’s defection means the number of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green Party TDs no longer forms a majority in the Dáil. This is a point of fact, and it means the tightrope on which the coalition is balanced is fraying.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald sees the weakness. She said the coalition was “out of road” and the “case for, and the need for a change in government is unanswerable”. She is not without some solid grounds for criticism.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney believes the Government will defeat the Sinn Féin no-confidence vote. He hit back by claiming: “They will want to be as disruptive as possible.”
However, oppositions will always attempt to gain power, just as governments will always fight to hold on to it. Both would do well to remember they are there primarily to serve voters.
Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not just an opportunity to satisfy all party agendas.
Our country is facing daunting economic and social challenges. We have been partially insulated from many of the headwinds from both the pandemic and the Ukraine war, mostly thanks to the benefits of foreign direct investment.
This year, corporation tax yields are on course to reach €20bn. Such figures represent an invaluable comfort blanket in the eye of any storm. Therefore, the conditions to protect this money tree must be maintained. Political and economic stability is fundamental.
Rural Independent TD Michael Collins has said his group will not support the coalition. “We are, at present, seeing the brain death of the current Irish Government,” he said.
We face complex problems with no easy fix. The resources we have to deal with them are also finite. To pretend otherwise would be unwise.
All TDs love their power, but it is not to be toyed with. When it is, those who do so tend to be the last to realise how rapidly it can be snatched back by those who lent it to them.