McDowell and PDs will suffer for thinking they can sacrifice Ahern

Eoghan Harris may be on to something when he says that while Michael McDowell’s “infatuation with his own image” may yet do for Bertie Ahern, the still popular and trusted Taoiseach can take the small consolation that “some day soon it will do for him too.””The Ahern affair is a familiar script” says Harris. “The PC media make a mountain out of a Fianna Fail molehill. The PDs panic for fear they will look bad in the Irish Times. They pull the rug and return under a new Taoiseach.

But you can’t keep repeating history. Surely the PDs can see they will be punished this time if they sell out a popular Taoiseach who has taken the gloss and glamour from Sinn Fein? All they have to do is stand firm for a week under fire. At least the PDs are not likely to wobble under Michael McDowell.”

But Harris says McDowell did wobble on Thursday, effectively putting a gun to Ahern’s head, less than 24 hours after standing behind his coalition partner.

“After mulling it over all night I finally figure out why McDowell went wobbly,” writes Harris.

“Although it beggars belief it is the only one that makes any sense.

Having made a mess of the order of business in the Dail he dashed out to rescue his reputation by creating a crisis. Nothing else explains his foolish volte-face.

Today the media sharks are sniffing the blood he weakly spilled in the water. And when they have finished with Ahern they will start on McDowell. Wobblers always get what’s coming to them.”

In another piece, Harris outlines three reasons why McDowell will climb down or face being wiped out as a political force by Fianna Fail: First, the Irish people will punish anybody who puts Ahern out of office. Second, McDowell made a major mistake in trying to put pressure on Fianna Fail. Third, Fianna Fail will not flinch under the PD fire.

“McDowell has three days but only two choices. He can eat humble pie or starve in opposition. My bet is that he will back down. After that he will be only half the man he used to be.

And all because, like Narcissus, he loved his own image not wisely, but too well.”

  • Brian Boru

    I don’t think they will pull out of govt after today’s poll showing 63% want Ahern to stay (Mail on Sunday).

    Intriguing, tucked away on page 6 is an ICM poll (similar methodology to Red C) which shows a big boost for FF and a blow to the Rainbow. Findings:

    FF: 40%
    FG: 23%
    Labour: 11%
    PD: 4%
    SF: 8%
    Green: 8%

    FF-PD: 44%
    FG-Lab: 34%
    FG-Lab-Green: 42%

    FF-SF: 48%
    FF-Green: 48%

    Now granted the last 2 are very unlikely (especially the last) but it shows how difficult it could be to unseat FF. The poll was taken on Tuesday/Wednesday. The question now is whether this is just a sympathy vote for Bertiem or whether it will fizzle out. At present the Opposition and the media’s feeding-frenzy over the cash affair seems to be backfiring and I must confess my great surprise at this. Maybe he should stay after all. I wanted him to go because I thought it would destroy the govt’s chances next year (and to a lesser extent for ethical reasons), but if FF can still win with him at the helm, then I say Bertie is the man.

  • Greenflag

    Bertie’s latest move should help 🙂

    ‘The Taoiseach has moved to repay the money which he says was loaned to him by a group of friends in the early 90s.

    It is believed Mr Ahern has written cheques for more than €90,000, with interest taken into account.

    Dublin publican Charlie Chawke confirmed that the money had been repaid.

    He said he had passed on some €60,000 to CARI, a charity that raises money for victims of child abuse that is linked to the Taoiseach’s wife, Miriam.

    The move comes as contacts continue between the Taoiseach’s office and the PDs ahead of Tuesday’s Dáil statements.’

    The mood in the country is that Bertie made a mistake but that the country would be making even more of a mistake to either change Taoiseachs or change Government at this time .

    If I did’nt know better I’d be almost inclined to believe that somebody close to Bertie – no -I’d better not go down that road . CJ Haughey himself once made a comparison between the late Macchiavelli as being only a novice in comparison to Bertie ?

    Seems to me that the opposition have shot themselves in the foot yet again .

    After the election both Labour and FG will be on the hunt for new leaders with hopefully a bit more political nous and common sense than the present less than dynamic duo !

  • Greenflag

    ‘and I must confess my great surprise at this. ‘

    BB – I confess my non surprise 🙂

    George ,

    A bit harsh on McDowell – He won’t starve either on the opposition benches and neither in government . In the interest of the country he’ll stay on board the FF/PD coalition.

    As for eating humble pie ? Sometimes it can pay dividends in politics -assuming it’s done in a convincing -humble and contrite manner 🙂 The electorate are not heartless unemotional robots .

    Ask Bertie the populist 🙂 The late CJ Haughey attracetd either complete loyalty or derisory contempt . Bertie attracts the former but very little of the latter at least among the voting public .

  • Turbopaul

    So, Bertie has paid back the money, thats alright then, move on, Bertie, all is now forgiven and forgotten.

    Seems that if you do wrong, but pay the money back, then the previous action can be set aside.

    What a wonderful message to send out to the public, not forgetting the criminals!

    If Bertie stays it will confirm that the bar for public office is set below a snakes belly.

  • Greenflag

    False deduction Turbo . It just means that any politican who commits similar errors of judgement in the period post the passing of the Governments official written guidelines can expect the boot . And rightly so .

  • George

    Brian Boru,
    as a man who had the gumption to inform us that he will be voting PDs in the election I find your post interesting:

    “Bertie MUST go to save FF from anhiliation next May.” – you on Thursday, September 28

    “Maybe he should stay after all.” – You on October 1.

    Could it be that you, like McDowell, wobbled on Thursday and are now backtracking to prevent further damage to your preferred government choice as Harris seems to think?

    Greenflag,
    if McDowell takes the PDs out of government only two weeks after becoming leader against the wishes of the majority of the electorate, and if FF survive as a minority government, I believe his and the PDs geese will be cooked. And he knows it.

    You can’t take over the helm of the ship, sail straight into the first iceberg, and expect to survive in the job.

    Enda Kenny will not be the next Taoiseach even if Bertie was found in the broom cupboard with Mary O’Rourke, in my humble view.

    So that leaves Ahern or, if he goes, Cowen. If he wants power, McDowell will have to crawl back into bed with FF.

    If he doesn’t there are others who will snuggle up if the call comes.

  • Turbopaul

    Point taken.

    However, it does leave a bad taste in the mouthes of the electorate, even if they still back Bertie.

    Not only do I think Bertie has been damaged, but also, yet again, the whole notion of standards in public life.

  • ciaran damery

    Strange to hear of loonies like the amatuer, ‘google a quote’, Eoghan Harris offer an opinion that’s within the realm of possibility. McDowell’s gonna commit political suicide. Good riddance to him and his pee dees. Meanwhile, the financial corruption within the body politic of southern Ireland has never been so riven with allegations pertaining to the absolute corruption, from top to bottom and inside out of Fiann fail in particular.

  • Crataegus

    Let’s see how Tuesday goes but with the above figures if I were Bertie I would be inclined to go to the country. Mud sticks and with time who knows what damage can mature, Bertie must be tempted to go now.

  • Greenflag

    George – I agree . Enda Kenny is not the worst but IMO he is not Taoiseach material.

    McDowell may have pulled back the bedsheets and placed a wobbly foot out to test the ground byt he has’nt yet crawled out 🙂 Nor will he -IMO

    ‘If he doesn’t there are others who will snuggle up if the call comes. ‘

    And you can bet that fluffy bunny arsed Rabbitte would be one of the first in line .

    At some point the source of the leak will be honed in on and it would’nt surprise me if it was somewhere among the possible contenders for Padraig Coineen’s upcoming ‘retirement ‘ from the leadership .

    Rabbitte’s view that he’d rather have a weakened lame Bertie to face in an election instead of a new FF leader is just the kind of flawed political judgement that calls out for ‘replacement’.

    Crataegus ,

    You could be right . Pay up and make a clean break for it or hang on till spring and hope a generous Budget will wipe any lingering doubts from the faithful that their best bet is still an FF/PD coalition .

    I’m sure Bertie has been taking soundings from the constituencies and the parliamentary party over the weekend .

    My gut instinct is that he won’t go to the country until after the budget . But to be honest we won’t really know till after Tuesday .