The latest from the never-ending talks to form a new Government, courtesy of Pat Leahy, who listens to this nonsense so the rest of us don’t have to:
Talks on forming a government were continuing on Monday night with senior figures in all three parties involved admitting privately that the coming days represent a “do-or-die” stage in the long-running negotiations.
There was no sense among insiders that sufficient progress was yet being made between the negotiating teams to conclude an agreement before the end of the week.
Sources say there is unlikely to be a deal without interventions from the three party leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens to agree key aspects of the programme for government.
The three leaders? There are at least four leaders involved. Catherine Martin is challenging Eamon Ryan for the Green leadership, so any deal he makes over her head (she’s their lead negotiator) is something she can use to bash him in the leadership contest. The narrative is practically pre-written for her. “I’d beaten FF and FG into a corner on the essential issue of taxing breathing, but then Eamon went into a back room and sold us out”.
They’re kidding themselves in FF and FG if they think they can do a deal with Ryan now. All they’ll be doing, in coming to an arrangement with him, is printing “sell out” in big red letters on his forehead.
And by the way, it’s not as if there’s universal consent for the putative deal in the two bigger parties either, despite a weird lack of attention on that issue from the rest of the media. Go around the country and talk to Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael councillors and you’ll find overwhelming opposition to it. Many of those councillors are in rural areas. A deal that makes the green membership happy will have those fellas (and let’s face it, they’re nearly all fellas) worried about a backlash from angry farmers.
There are, really, only two outcomes: A deal that everybody hates, or no deal. And the deal that everybody hates then has to be put to the membership of Fianna Fail and the Greens, and ratified, by a two thirds majority in the case of the Greens.
How likely is it that the Green membership will vote for any deal that has concessions in it? Remember, these people believe, in their hearts and souls, that if emissions aren’t slashed by 2030, then we’re all going to burn. What use, to them, is a deal that doesn’t slash emissions by as much as they want? It would actually undermine them, because it would constitute a Green endorsement of the idea that actually the massive cuts they want aren’t needed at all.
And this in the middle of a leadership contest to decide who’s the Greenest of them all?
Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are wasting their time. They’d best both be getting ready for the now surely inevitable second election.
And in Fianna Fail, that means changing the leader. After all, what is Micheal Martin going to say in that second election? “Vote Fine Gael out”? He’s just spent months trying and failing to put them back in.
The other option, if the talks fail, would be for Martin to break his only remaining promise, and talk to Sinn Fein. But then, Sinn Fein may want Mary Lou to be Taoiseach, and that’ll be the end of that.
There are, after all, no limits to what Micheal Martin will compromise on, except that. He’d never stand somebody else getting the big job ahead of him.
So there’ll be no Government, or at least no long lasting Government. The only remaining option would be FF and FG on their own, with the support of 8 or 9 mercenary independents. That’s not a bad thing, if, like me, you live in Tipperary, and can count on convicted criminal Michael Lowry to deliver us a casino, or our own airport, or an international space station, or something. But it wouldn’t be very stable.
And besides, Varadkar wants a general election, whatever he says in public. He’s in the mid 30s in the opinion polls, and, having been Taoiseach for four years, has never won an election. Politicians have needs, and validation is a big one. Give him the chance, and he’ll be off to the park as soon as he can.
He’s going to have that chance, and very soon. Get your voting shoes ready.