Posted by Jason O on Apr 25, 2016 in Irish Politics
The first election campaign I was ever directly involved in was the 1991 local elections, where I canvassed for Jeananne Crowley in the Pembroke Ward, a seat I’d contest myself in the 1999 elections. After that, I campaigned in local, general, European and by-elections, and in a number of referendums. And that’s not counting the internal party elections I campaigned in.
Between 1991 and 2005, when I resigned from the Progressive Democrats, I experienced a fair bit of Irish politics, and came across what I would regard as fairly solid general rules of Irish politics. They are general, there are always exceptions, but broadly speaking I believe they’re true:
1. With the possible exception of Sinn Fein and the Alphabet Left, and maybe in by-elections, there is no longer such a thing as party machines in the traditional sense. Successful candidates have to effectively build their own teams of, for the most part, personal loyalists. Many if not most of the party members who turned up to vote at the convention will not end up knocking on doors.
2. Irish people vote for people over ideas nearly always. People are far more likely to vote for a person they like but disagree with politically over a person they agree with but dislike.
3. It is possible to be interested in the politics of ideas, or the politics of winning elections, and never have anything to do with the other. Indeed it is getting more and more likely.
4. The one characteristic a successful candidate absolutely must have over everything else is physical stamina, and a willingness to keep knocking on doors and talking to people over and over again. It is possible for a stupid candidate to be elected again and again. A lazy candidate will probably only be elected once, and only because he/she is related to someone.
5. The lack of knowledge displayed by voters, and their pride in that lack of knowledge, about how the political system works, and how decisions are made, will never cease to amaze you.
6. By international standards, it is relatively easy for a small group to change things in Ireland if it has determination, courage and organisation. The failure to bring change has usually been because of a lack of one of those three factors. The Provisional IRA and the Progressive Democrats proved that.
7. Irish people take a masochistic comfort in believing that an uncontrollable force, be it the Brits, the IMF, or potatoes, is responsible for their woes, and are comfortable with people knowingly lying to them. No race on Earth savours perceived betrayal and victimhood as much as the Irish. Our national headwear should be a leather “Pulp Fiction” gimp mask.
8. “The Rich” are people who earn €15k more than you per annum. “The Ordinary People” are your friends and family.
9. The fact that we ask candidates the same questions in both local and national elections explains a lot about why Ireland is the way it is today.
10. Many Irish think that the United States consists solely of New York, Boston and Chicago, and cannot comprehend that there are a large number of Americans with little love, and in some cases, hatred for the Irish.
11. Nor can many of us believe that there are huge sections of the world who have little or no idea who we are. In short, “everyone” does not love the Irish.
12. A large proportion of the population have no real idea how government services are funded.
13. Irish public bodies, including the houses of the Oireachtas, exist primarily to protect the terms and conditions of their employees. Their secondary function, if they have spare time, is the task for which they were nominally created, like driving buses, governing the country, that sort of thing.
14. Given the level of centralisation in the country, if activity in the Dail and Seanad chambers and county council chambers were suspended indefinitely, it would quite possibly be years before the public would detect any detrimental effect on the level of services provided by the state as a result. In fact, activity on the floor of the Finnish and German parliaments would have a much more immediate effect on us.
15. The legal system has the same standing to large chunks of the political establishment as witchcraft has to many Africans. If a lawyer says something of positive benefit cannot be done for legal reasons, most Irish politicians surrender immediately, in many instances glad to have a de facto supernatural reason for not doing something.
16. It is almost impossible to find a defender of the Seanad or the European Parliament who would not quite fancy being a member of either body if no better offer were available.
17. There are people who genuinely believe that Ireland would be a better country if there were no private sector rich people living in it. Provided they left behind the big giant “make me rich” machines that every rich person is issued with at birth.
18. There are two conflicting forces in the Irish soul: one believes that sending a turkey in a shopping trolley to an international competition is “gas” and the rest of Europe are dry shites for not voting for him. The other is that feeling we got the moment the music stopped when we first saw Riverdance during the Eurovision. What we settle for, and what we could be.
19. In Irish politics, often the solution is more unpopular than the problem.
20. Irish people abroad will tolerate and even champion stuff they’d never accept in Ireland. Like paying for water.
21. The Irish mind can happily hold conflicting opinions at the same time. Like being neutral but having a US base in Shannon. Or wanting to defend the unborn, but only on the basis of geography.
Posted by Jason O on Apr 19, 2016 in Irish Politics
The Labour Party, God love it, is a creature of habit. Vastly overhyping its voter expectations, it enters government, bitterly disappoints them, and gets clobbered at the next election. It then stumbles into opposition for a dark period of recrimination, infighting and finger pointing, before emerging out the other end and doing it all again. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Here’s a thought: for the first time ever, Labour has a fascinating opportunity. The people who voted Labour in 2016 are the hard-core pragmatists, the people who are loyal for whatever reason, or actually liked what Labour did in government. Barring Labour going loopy, they’re disappointment proof.
Now there’s a chance for Labour to build new voters not based on promises but on actual delivery in government. After all, the Labour Party’s seven TDs are far more valuable (read vital) to Fine Gael than Labour’s previous 39 TDs.
If Labour are smart it can look for real concrete demands off Fine Gael, solid deliveries that are all bonuses because nobody ever expected Labour to be able to do them. From a referendum on the 8th amendment to political reform to childcare to housing, Labour has the ability to finally be the party it always says it wants to be.
Not the disappointing over-promisers, but the party that surprises everyone by actually getting good stuff done.
You know who has been through this? The Progressive Democrats in 1989. They lost over half their seats, then entered government and actually gained seats at the following election. Having lost its easily disappointed voters, the PDs then built a new following based on their delivery in government, remaining one of the few parties in Irish politics to actually gain seats coming out of government.
There’s an idea. But first Labour members must resist the urge to do what Labour members always do after being ejected from government…
Posted by Jason O on Apr 17, 2016 in Irish Politics
And so we approach what looks like the next step in Fianna Fail’s return to its place as the dominant party in Irish politics. It could take a mere few months, or possible two or three years, but let’s be under no illusion. Fianna Fáil intend to use the bloodied but still breathing Fine Gael as a human shield to get them to another election as fast as is politically decent. They’ll play the national interest and stability card for a while, just waiting for FG to suggest something that FF can be suitably morally indignant about, and then it’s off to face the people and the discarding of the then useless cadaver of FG.
Normal business is restored: FF the largest party and in coalition with one or two small but rational parties and FG back to their role as the perennial losers of Irish politics, the posh rich kid who always gets his comeuppance from the scrappy kid from the wrong side of town in countless movies.
Someone once said to me that the problem with Fine Gael is that they’re that lethal mixture of being both arrogant and stupid. You can survive by being arrogant but clever, or by being dim but likeable, but FG manage to be neither. They seem to be the party who is always surprised to lose elections because nobody, from their tailor to their housekeeper to their stablehand ever admits to voting Fianna Fáil.
Once again, they’re about to fall in the trap. They’ll finally get Enda back in with FF collaboration and then suddenly they’ll see themselves, once again, as The Government, and try to carry on as if nothing has changed, right up to the moment they look on gob-dawed as Michael Martin forms the next stable secure government.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The key to FG’s survival is not to neuter FF’s power but to enhance it, and do so publicly. Enda should announce a weekly legislative cooperation meeting where he will publicly work with FF on which legislation goes through the house, and what it looks like. His team should be pulling out every Fianna Fáil policy document and private members bill from the last five years and pushing what can be used, publicly identifying them as Fianna Fail’s good ideas. He should be consulting Fianna Fáil publicly on state appointments and very publicly appointing Fianna Fáil nominees. In short, the objective of Fine Gael should be to destroy the notion that Fianna Fáil are the opposition standing up to the government, and making sure that it is clear to all that Fianna Fáil are part of the governing majority and share in its decisions.
Are Fine Gael smart enough to pull it off? They’ll be helped by the fact that Sinn Fein will certainly want to push that line too. But it will involve FG showing humility, with the government basically refusing to give FF any ammunition to bring down the government.
That’s the real challenge, because humble is not something FG does well.
1. Because Jupiter is not in line with Aquarius.
2. Because he looked at me funny!
3. Because of policy differences on…eh…water? Yeah, that’ll do.
4. Because they are not “ideologically or culturally compatible”. We expect Sinn Fein and the DUP to find common ground, and even the Israelis and the Palestinians. But Fianna Fail and Fine Gael…
5. Because they’ve had their turn, now it’s our turn.
7. Because that’s not Frank Underwood’s plan.
8. Because you’re not the boss of me.
9. Because they’ve haven’t played The Rains of Castermere yet.
10. Because….ah feck off!
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board has confirmed that the iceberg responsible for the sinking of the Titanic will arrive in Belfast later this week. The iceberg, which was discovered adrift north of Greenland and still with the paint markings from its epic encounter with the Belfast-built ship, will be part of the display in the Titanic Quarter.
The NITB has also confirmed that the iceberg will be a major part of the province’s plan for the 2016/2017 tourist season, with a cartoon character, “Bergie”, a mischievous baby iceberg, heading up the campaign. A cartoon series, which involves an evil ship named “Titan Nick” constantly trying to ram the little iceberg, will debut in the autumn.
Not everyone is welcoming the idea. Some have condemned the idea as sectarian. A spokesperson for No-Ice have pointed out that this is “once again celebrating the destruction of one of the great industrial achievements of Belfast”. He also wanted to know what was to stop the iceberg going rogue and sinking other ships. The group has pledged to meet the iceberg on its arrival with kettles filled with hot water. “Iceberg? It should be called Not-Niceberg!”
NITB have dismissed the suggestion, pointing out that the sinking of the Titanic, George Best, and the filming of Game of Thrones are key parts of Northern Irish history. “Nothing else happened here over the last 30 years. Got that?” A spokesman said, with menace.
Posted by Jason O on Apr 1, 2016 in Irish Politics
Just how quickly could Fine Gael change leader in the event of a snap or accidental second election in 2016? The answer is: much faster than you think. Whilst Fine Gael does have an electoral college to choose its party leader, a process that could take weeks at a minimum, there’s nothing to stop the FG parliamentary party, within a few days, meeting and designating a formal candidate for Taoiseach to lead the party into the election. Sure, maybe the members might get upset, but bear in mind that the right to nominate a candidate for Taoiseach is constitutionally reserved to members of the Dail, and it’s not something any court will interfere with.
After all, let’s not forget that the very first Fine Gael Taoiseach, John A. Costello, wasn’t leader of the party either. It would also allow FG to move very quickly in the event of a snap election to radically change the situation, with Michael Martin suddenly finding himself facing off not against Enda, the known quantity, but Leo or Frances Fitzgerald. Forgive the use of an awfully overused phrase, but it would actually be a game changer.
Posted by Jason O on Mar 21, 2016 in Election 2016
, Irish Politics
So, a quick snapshot on where the parties stand after the election:
Fine Gael and Fianna Fail: both need to tread carefully (or should that be thread, given the complexity?) Fine Gael need to ease off on the We Won The Election, because this election was about them and they were clearly rejected. Having said that, FF want to cool off on the We Doubled Our Seats So We Obviously Won thing too. Don’t forget, FG got a kicking, but are less unpopular than FF because they got more votes than they did. That’s how we tell.
The first party to start showing a bit of humility will gain.
Both parties are like Captain Kirk and that Giant Lizard (readers can decide who is who), circling each other looking for the advantage. Both are also aware that all options come booby-trapped. A grand coalition will help the Shinners, a minority government may end up being responsibility without power for either party, and another election is really the nuclear option.
This still all feels like we haven’t started yet.
Sinn Fein: have nicely extracted themselves from responsibility for government and with new voices like Eoin O’Broin and Donnchadh O’ Laoghaire are set for the long haul. The future of Gerry is the next big issue for SF: they know he’s the obstacle to breakthrough.
Labour: a nice lie-down in a dark room will do Labour the world of good. Staying out of government is a good idea.
The Social Democrats and the Greens: both parties have the same problem. As Catherine Martin’s extraordinary performance in Dublin Rathdown showed, the Greens have managed to claw back their transfer friendliness. Both parties should be very weary of getting involved in government if another election is on the way, as it’s not unreasonable that both parties could pick up votes from a bad tempered electorate in another poll.
The Independents: the Mala of the Dail, to be moulded as needed? What’s interesting is that the Independents fortune can change so rapidly. If you are needed for government formation, you’re valuable. If you aren’t, and other Inds are seen to be bringing back the pork, it’s time to sweat. Let’s not forget that the country is littered with former one-term Independent TDs going all the way back to Sean Dublin Bay Rockall Loftus.
No one can be sure for certain when it was first noticed. But it is certainly fair to say that it came to official attention following a row in a pub in Castlebar. The Guards had been called to a heated altercation between a number of customers and the publican, an event not exactly unusual on a summer’s Saturday night. On arrival at the pub however, the Guards had been surprised to discover that drink, although being the issue, was not the usual catalyst.
This was not the usual row between men full of jar. Indeed, it was the lack of jar that was the issue. The three men had been rowing furiously over an accusation by the two that the publican was watering down drink. Others had got involved, some siding with the publican, some with his accusers. But what struck the Garda sergeant the most was the fact that here they were in a pub near closing time and hardly anyone was pissed. There were a small handful well-oiled, but most people in the pub were fully sober. On a Saturday night?
The sergeant calmed the situation, pointed out that watering down drink was a criminal offence, and ordered his younger partner to collect a few samples for analysis.
This was the first submission to the state laboratory, but by the end of the week twenty submissions had been made by both the Gardai and the consumer authorities, all following up complaints by consumers.
Two weeks later the issue had reached the media, as a scandal involving publicans watering down drink.
Except they weren’t, the minister for justice was told as he was being briefed. One or two samples were found to have been diluted, but the vast majority were perfectly normal. Just as the minister started wondering whether some sort of national mass hysteria was beginning to take hold, the minister for health asked the Taoiseach for an emergency meeting.
This drink thing has nothing to do with alcohol tampering, he said. The national infectious diseases monitoring unit had discovered something living in the water supply.
The Taoiseach paled. Normally, being prime minister of a small European country involved just keeping a lid on public expectations about spending. But this was one of those Hollywood moments, he thought, like when the president is told that Martians have invaded. He stiffened in his seat and stuck his jaw out like Martin Sheen did on The West Wing.
The minister was quick to calm the meeting. It’s not dangerous, per se. It’s an unknown parasite that lives and replicates within the human body. Completely harmless. But there is one thing.
The Taoiseach shifted in his seat. He was a fan of zombie movies and his head was spinning.
The parasite metabolises alcohol at an incredible rate. Essentially, it burns up alcohol before it can intoxicate the consumer. If you have it, you can’t get drunk, no matter how much you drink. The European Health Agency and the World Health Organisation have never seen anything like it.
The Taoiseach exhaled. Thank Christ for that. He had visions of blowing people’s heads off in Merrion Square with a shotgun.
Completely harmless, he asked.
Completely, the minister agreed. It got through most of the water supply because it’s harmless. Normally if something dangerous gets into the water supply, outbreaks of illness are what alert us within a few days. But this thing has been active for weeks. It was only when people started complaining about not getting pissed that we were alerted.
What’s the solution, the Taoiseach asked.
Ah, said the minister. That’s the problem. At the moment we don’t have one. This thing is pretty much a superbug. Resistant to everything the doctors have thrown at it. That’s why the EHA and WHO are working on it. We’ve asked the CDC in Atlanta for help too.
I don’t want a load of feckers in yellow spacesuits walking around the place, the Taoiseach said. The minister nodded.
Of course, I’ll have to tell the Dail. How widespread is the infection? The Taoiseach asked.
The minister grimaced. With the exception of Donegal, where we have isolated their water supply, the whole country. Pretty much everybody has it and it has the alcohol neutralising effect on about 98% of those infected.
But aside from the alcohol thing, it’s harmless? The Taoiseach asked.
If anything, the minister replied, it’s slightly beneficial in that it speeds up metabolism. Good for weight loss.
The Taoiseach scribbled that point down. If he was going to tell the Irish that drinking no longer worked, he was going to need every scrap of good news he could find.
The news was met with the usual Irish mix of bemusement, cynicism and suspicion. The leader of the opposition was quick to point out that under this government, even drink doesn’t work.
The publicans and the drinks industry called for a national emergency to be declared, and then proceeded to do the standard Irish two-step of denying the real cause for concern, plummeting alcohol sales, and instead latching onto some other more respectable reason for their anxiety. This is an attack on craic, one spokesman said, raising concerns about the effect on tourism. Another industry voice suggested darkly that this would lead to the Irish people turning to heroin instead. We could all end up out of our heads on horse, he said.
Joe Duffy was inundated with conspiracy theorists suggesting it had been the EU, UN, feminists, the Germans, protestants, Muslims, German protestants and Coca Cola. One call pointed out that this happened after Ireland had voted for same-sex marriage. Is it a coincidence, Joe? I don’t think so. It’s the pill, Joe, said another. It’s turned us all into fairies who can’t hold our drink. Surely the opposite is what’s happening, said Duffy. You’re obviously in on it, Joe. Typical RTE was the reply.
A number of TDs called for the army to be called in to start drinking the national alcohol supply to keep the drinks industry alive. We’re talking about jobs here, they protested. Each deputy was quick to stress how his county was obviously suffering much harder than any other county.
Within a month, the HSE working with its international partners had wiped out the parasite from the water supply. Curing the infected, however, was another matter.
We have found a cure, the minister for health told the cabinet. An American pharmaceutical had amongst many of its obscure patents a forgotten experimental drug which can wipe the infection from the human body, with little or no side effects. We’re fast tracking the testing to make sure, but we should be able to start treatment very soon.
The cabinet applauded, amidst much joking about dying for a whiskey.
The health minister dampened down the noise. I’m afraid, he said, it’s not as simple as that. The company that owns the patent is looking for around €30 billion to provide the medication.
The cabinet erupted. They can’t do that, said the social protection minister.
Yes they can. We can put pressure on them, publicly, but legally they’re entirely within their rights.
Can’t we just copy the drug? One minister asked. After all, don’t we actually have it for testing and analysis?
We do, the health minister said. The problem is that because there are so many pharmaceuticals here we have very strict patent protection laws. If we do that they can take us to our own courts and get the money that way. And that’s assuming you can find another pharmaceutical willing to manufacture 5 million doses for you, and not get sued themselves.
Let’s just change the law, the agriculture minister said.
Hold your horses for a minute, there, said the minister for enterprise. We rely on foreign companies here for huge employment and investment. If they start thinking we’re one of those countries that just confiscate property on a whim…
This is a national emergency, agriculture said.
Nobody is dying, enterprise replied.
You would say that, agriculture replied, jabbing a finger at the famously tee-total enterprise minister.
The Taoiseach raised a hand. We can’t just confiscate the drug. Can we negotiate?
Health shrugged. Possibly, we might get some leeway on the payment period and that, but not much.
The news about the drug and its company, Haardnex of Texas, leaked soon after. The Irish online community were very quick to decide that Haardnex had “obviously” invented the parasite and put it into the water supply to hold the Irish people ransom. Thousands marched in protests, although the size of the protests started to dwindle when they got mocked on American and British television for marching to demand the right to get pissed. Protestors who brought their children, trying to somehow justify how this was “all about the children” were roundly laughed at on Youtube and Snapchat.
Demonstrators got more and more annoyed at the attitude of foreign journalists who refused to take the issue seriously, especially when they attempted to explain that being drunk was part of the Irish culture yet painting the Irish as a nation of drunks was a racist stereotype. Foreign news crews had to receive Garda escorts.
Eventually, the Taoiseach spoke to the Irish people. We have negotiated, he said, a deal for €25 billion to be paid over ten years to Haardnex in return for the treatment. Given that it is such a huge amount of money, it is my intention to put this vote to the Irish people in a referendum.
The run-up to the vote involved bitter debates in the media and amongst families. The Yes campaign ran on the slogan Sure Didn’t We Bail Out The Banks! and that this was all about saving a crucial part of Irish culture. The campaign was well-funded, with the drinks industry and unions representing the Gardai and social workers, two groups that had lost significant overtime since the outbreak calling for a yes vote. The No campaign was much smaller, and open to physical attack in the streets for being Dry Shites.
The polls were much more evenly balanced, with polls recording that whilst the vast majority wanted the cure, they weren’t happy at having to pay for it. On the radio and online some suggested that once the government had dispersed the treatment it could renege on the deal, but lawyer after lawyer dismissed that possibility.
Day after day debates were held about the influence of drink on the country, the fall in domestic violence and road fatalities, and the fact that obesity figures had shown a marked drop. Cannabis sales were definitely up, the Gardai confirmed, whilst pointing out that alcohol-related public order offences had collapsed. A&E waiting times also fell sharply. The argument that it was harming tourism was disproven by the fact that tourists, who weren’t infected, and could avail of a cheap vaccine, could get drunk. Indeed, that tiny percentage of Irish drinkers who either weren’t susceptible to the infection, or lived in Donegal, found themselves being ostracised by friends. Story after story about how Donegal still got drunk continued to irritate the rest of the country, to the extent that drunken Donegal visitors started getting beaten up in Dublin, Cork and Galway.
American commentators were quick to draw a line between the American love of guns and the Irish love of drink, and the fact that both countries were willing to accept a high casualty rate in return for their right to use the product in question.
Is it possible, the No campaign suggested, that this is not the worst thing to ever happen to the Irish people?
On polling day, the last poll suggested the deal would be rejected by a good ten percentage points.
It passed by 80%. Donegal voted No.
Posted by Jason O on Mar 10, 2016 in Election 2016
, Irish Politics
As you are aware, it has been some weeks since you the Irish people elected the 32nd Dail. In that time, with the existing government clearly rejected but with no obvious alternative government endorsed, it has proven very difficult to form a new and stable government to do the people’s work and ensure that the recovery experienced in some parts of the country is now spread out nationwide.
Towards that goal, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain to you the options I believe that we as a country face.
The first option is a coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. This would be a partnership of equals, with equal seats and the rotating of the office of Taoiseach and Tanaiste. In addition, it would be my intention to introduce a system whereby, as in the North of Ireland, the deputy has access to all the papers and decisions of the Taoiseach before they are made. I have no doubt that both parties could agree a worthwhile and ambitious programme of work for the next five years.
If coalition is not an option for Fianna Fail, we should consider minority support by Fianna Fail from outside the government. As part of that, and in return for a guarantee of fixed support for five years, we would agree a programme of legislation and a liaison committee so that Fianna Fail can play a part in every major decision the government makes and share in the responsibility of those decisions. I would stress, however, that such a government would need a clear and fixed period of support from Fianna Fail to be viable, and that there should be a formal written agreement as such.
Finally, if neither of those options suit Fianna Fail, then I shall have no choice but to advise the president that he should dissolve the Dail and call fresh elections.
I sincerely hope Fianna fail can see their way to finding agreement with us. This country faces serious challenges and needs a stable government, and I believe our two parties can deliver that government.
Remember, if the UK votes to leave the European Union in June’s Brexit referendum there will be no Fine Gael or Fianna Fail, only Ireland. I have no doubt that Micheal Martin and I can step into the European Council as one with the same goal, to do what’s best for our country. Despite our political differences, I have no doubt as to the patriotism of Michael or his party.
Let me also stress that my position as Taoiseach should not be seen as an obstacle for the formation of a stable government. I have been honoured to have served as your Taoiseach for the last five years. But I am also aware that no one man is more important than this office, and if my replacement is the price of five years of stable government than so be it. The country comes first.
Finally, let us not forget that 100 years ago future members of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael did serve together in the first provisional governments. De Valera, Collins, Lemass and Cosgrave fought together and achieved the almost impossible, defeating the British Empire and creating a free nation. We then fought a bloody and pointless civil war that scars our politics even today.
It’s time. The country comes first. Great sacrifices were made in 2016. Asking Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to make mere political sacrifices today in 2016 is but a very minor thing in the shadows of those great men and women.
Posted by Jason O on Feb 28, 2016 in Election 2016
, Irish Politics
So, as the final seats are filled, onto the next task. What are the options?
1. The Status Quo. Enda is Taoiseach until the first vote, then acting Taoiseach until replaced. Theoretically, he could remain indefinitely, although wouldn’t be able to replace all the cabinet ministers who lost their seats.
2. FF/FG coalition. The safe long haul option and hard to see happening, despite the logic of it. FF/FG means Sinn Fein as the opposition, which is exactly what Sinn Fein want as part of the long term plan to lead a government as the main party.
2. FG/Lab minority with FF support on Taoiseach. More likely, but immediately puts pressure on FF to take responsibility for anything the govt does, and will give Sinn Fein ammunition to use in the assumed early election in the next 18 months. Also raises the question of whether Lab will go back into govt, or may decide to return to opposition to rebuild.
3. The 1948 option. FF or FG could attempt to assemble a majority with all sorts from Inds, Social Democrats, Greens but would need SF support either inside or outside. Hard to see it happen, but this is Ireland.
4. Enda to make a extraordinary offer to FF, say Micheal as Taoiseach, with clear understanding that a failure to agree means a snap second election. Hoping that FF will take the rap for an unnecessary election.
There are also three factors which could come into play:
1. The president could get involved, continental style. Although he doesn’t have a formal role, it would be hard for party leaders to refuse an invitation from him to attend talks in the Park.
2. A leadership change in FG. This is a tricky one for FF. If Enda steps down quickly, perhaps even before a new Dail meets, would FF really want to face an election with a fresh Taoiseach? It’s true, FG has a convoluted leadership election system, but in the current crisis the FG PP could name a “parliamentary leader” as candidate for Taoiseach, after soundings with the grass roots.
3. Finally, a secret ballot elected Ceann Comhairle is going to play a big role in a parliament without a majority but also because he/she won’t be automatically loyal to the government, which will be new.
Not going to be boring….