The government has predictably been saved by the decision of “dissident” Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs Joe McHugh and Marc MacSharry to vote against the Sinn Féin motion of no confidence on Tuesday.
MacSharry resigned from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party in September last year and supported a no confidence motion in Simon Coveney on the rather bizarre grounds that Fianna Fáil was no longer a “socialist democratic party of the people.” A Siamese cat called MacSharry would probably get elected in Sligo so he’s safe enough and can keep his powder dry until there is a heave against Micheál Martin.
McHugh, who is apparently not going to defend his seat in Donegal the next time, had the Fine Gael party whip removed last week when he voted against a mica redress scheme that is deemed inadequate by most campaigners on an issue which particularly concerns his own county. He, if he should change his mind, or someone close to him will be well placed to retain the seat even in the event of a likely pummelling of the coalition.
At the moment, it would seem only a matter of time before said thrashing takes place. Recent opinion polls have shown that combined support for Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens is well over ten points behind the 50.2% they took in the January 2020 general election. Sinn Féin meanwhile has seen its ratings climb steadily to over 10% higher than the 24.5% they took. It was at 36% in the last Red C survey.
Sinn Féin then would clearly relish the prospect of a general election. That is not going to happen so they will be happy to take the next best option of further emphasising the seeming disarray and unpopularity of the current incumbents. In the likely event that the mounting crises facing the coalition will only get worse, they really only have to wait.