I’ve held off from commenting on the increasingly likely government partnership between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in the hopes that something more substantial might become available than last Wednesday’s wafer-thin policy framework document. Long on aspiration, short on detail, the twenty-four page publication read more like a feel-good Instagram post than a manifesto for future government. Hence the derision in some press quarters and pretty much across the entirety of Irish social media with even elected representatives from both parties expressing scepticism or outright embarrassment about the discussion document. Pearse Doherty was undoubtedly correct when he observed that if Sinn Féin had published a similar free-for-all manifesto they would have been ““laughed out of it”. A criticism echoed by Stephen Collins in the Irish Times as the doughty defender of the overclass uncharacteristically turned his ire on the parties of the right.
So, the likelihood is that we will have a Fianna Fáil-led administration within a few weeks, fulfilling the desperate desire by Micheál Martin not to go down in history as the first FF leader never to be Taoiseach. And being of a cynical frame of mind I suspect that this ambition is just as much a factor in the ongoing negotiations as anything else. The question now is, what do we do Varadkar and Coveney? And will Eamon Ryan, the posterboy of eco-neoliberlism in Ireland, overcome the reluctance of the Green Party membership to put an environmentally-friendly gloss on a conservative government, thus fulfilling his own ambitions for a return to the “perks and mercs” of high office?