The Updated Guide to Irish Politics: The Heave

A slash of blood in the water and that's it.

A slash of blood in the water and that's it.

There was a time when a good heave was all the rage, particularly in Fianna Fail. Half the parliamentary party hated the party leader’s guts, and every now and again, a motion of no-confidence would be put down, followed by a swordfight (I’m not joking. Alright, there was only ever one sword used. But still. A sword!) and good old fashioned punch up in the Dail carpark.

Fine Gael heaves were just not of the same category, being far more genteel affairs where eyebrows were raised because someone put their teacup too loudly onto their saucer and a word would be had in the ear, leading, for example, to Alan Dukes being turfed out for “only” winning 55 seats. Back in the day when that was regarded as a bad result for FG. Fine Gael heaves were more like schoolyard fights, involving headlocks, knuckles to the scalp, the odd wedgie and people’s jerseys being pulled out of shape so that one arm was three feet longer than the other, but no one really got hurt. Even the last Kenny/Bruton scrap had a hint of monocles and Queensbury rules about it.

Meanwhile, however, in Fianna Fail they were kicking each other in the kidneys. Are FF up for a rumble now? Depends. This particular generation of FF TDs, lacking Haugheys and Colleys and McCreevys and O’Malleys has been, up until now anyway, too much of the wet-their-own-knickers variety to actually instigate it. But don’t rule it out. If some mischievous newspaper puts out a poll showing that some marginal FF TDs may keep their seats under Michael Martin or the saintly Lenihan, then it might just be game on. If a handful of rats go for Biffo, the rest of the nest won’t be too far behind. More than any other party, FF is the party of the pack.

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