Last week Sinn Féin decided to celebrate its long-awaited assumption of the leadership of the post-election Opposition in Dáil Éireann by shooting itself in the foot. This week Fianna Fáil has decided to celebrate taking up the leadership of the incoming coalition administration by shooting itself in the face. Unfortunately for his Fine Gael and Green Party partners in government Micheál Martin decided to use a shotgun, injuring not just himself but also Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan with his scattershot aim.
The Barry Cowen controversy is unlikely to disappear any time soon, especially with the press smelling blood in the water, and Sinn Féin will be only too glad to use the confusion in government ranks to bury its own recent hypocrisies over the Bobby Storey funeral in Belfast. Especially with continuing grassroots unease in FF over the party’s direction of travel and dissatisfaction over the division of the electoral spoils of war clogging up what’s left of the once mighty Fianna Fáil machine.
Meanwhile the past misdeeds and present obfuscating of the Soldiers of Destiny will only confirm the worse suspicions among the sanctimonious Blueshirts, who apparently reacted with alarm at any accusation of Garda wrongdoing or errors emanating from FF circles. Or worse, from people in ministerial office.
Talking of the Blueshirts, what a magnificent performance offered by Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs, on RTÉ last night as the Fine Gael TD valiantly tried to pluck himself out of the last minute hole the Fianna Fáil taoiseach dumped him in. Unfortunately for the stalwart son of Cork the presenter Miriam O’Callaghan was having none of it, thus adding to the gaiety of the nation. Not that the FG leg of the governing troika was in a much better place than its rivals-turned-partners given this week’s revelations about Coveney’s and Varadkar’s demands for exorbitant special treatment around their Cabinet roles. Including a military attaché for the Tánaiste, no doubt with a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist to secure the Dublin West TD’s sandwiches.
And let us not forget the Green Party, currently in the middle of a leadership contest, with the incumbent candidate reportedly promising a windfall of government jobs and seats on semi-state agencies for those who rally behind his flag.
An unsteady start to an already unsteady government, leaving one to wonder what more is to come. But at least Micheál Martin actually made a speedy decision on an issue of great public controversy and in a firm and unambiguous manner. Even if he unmade it just seven hours later.