Down in Fianna Fail, something stirred…

I happened to be in Dublin last night, so I thought I’d have a look at Suzy’s regular live blog she does for the Late Late Show. She rightly identified the news breaker of the evening: John McGuinness, Carlow Kilkenny TD and until he was sacked/made redundant Tanaiste Mary Coughlan’s Junior at Enterprise, Trade and Employment on Thursday. You may never have even heard of this guy before, but he was smooth, calm, and honestly telling of his own party’s frailties. And it had Fianna Fail’s instinct for power retention (they are like the Tories in that regard, only without the ideological encumbrances) written right through it like a stick of rock.

UPdate: Constantin Gurdgiev reckons it was:

…a logical conclusion of months of pinned up rage that this country is feeling toward the Cabinet – and primarily to Mr Cowen, Mr Lenihan and Mrs Coughlan – towards the public sector at large and towards the scores of mostly nameless, faceless (but sometimes publicly visible) ‘advisers’ who have systemically destroyed the prosperity of this country and its chances of coming out of the recession as a competitive and growth-focused economy.

And for once, Pat Kenny was spared the ire of the bloggers. After an excruciating interview with Ruby Wax, he was back in his natural element with a politician. But a politician who was prepared to talk and answer the questions the journalist wanted to ask.

It was peppered with statements that were not quite mea culpas, like “We’ve had a hell of a party. Now we are in a different game. ” And there was the vague whiff of revolution when asked about his old boss (the now much talked about – and briefed against – Tanaiste): “I don’t believe she’s in the right position”. There were hints too that the leadership had become detached from the party, which is an old party trope.

Several things strike me. The tone set him aside from the beleaguered, slightly stressed delivery of the current leadership. The content was damning of the leadership’s handling of the economy, but noted that he (and presumably others off) knew about the exiting of Dell from Limerick before the Tanaiste. He also made a virtue of his party’s primary weaknesses: 1, Coughlan has almost become a figure of fun for her opponents; and two the wider perception of the party as stuffed with Gombeen men, “I could sit here and sit on my hands and be a cute hoor”, trans “I’m not one of them, I’m ‘the real Fianna Fail'”.

But despite his attack on the Tanaiste “She’s not equipped to deal with the complex issues of dealing with enterprise and business within the Department. And neither is the department”, the real target has to be the Taoiseach (“…he needs to shift his mindset from being leader of FF to being leader of the country”). I suspect he is being served notice by two big fish in the cabinet who have been remarkably scarce in these difficult times for the government: Dermot Ahern and Noel Dempsey.

It was enough to have the Irish Times cram a piece into the print version of the paper with bits pulled together from three different journalists (presumably sitting at home spilling their coffees)…

But that’s nothing to the amount of beverages that mush have been spilt in the Coughlan home last night. The gossip around the Leinster House bubble about her and the rough manner in which she conducts her office is all over the place. This is one occasion when Oscar Wilde’s “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about” is the last thing she needs.

Mark Hennessey was right, the party is survival mode. But it’s response has, as ever, not been as ‘muted’ as some were expecting. In the meantime, keep an eye on tomorrow’s Dublin papers…

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  • Naoise Nunn

    On his blog, Constantin Gurdgiev is looking for documented reasons why Mary Coughlan’s not up for the job.

    Now we must demand straight talking, constructive debate and policy decisions which can move us forward. Country first, party second. Less tribe, more community. Ideas not ideology. Step forward the business community, unions, PAYE workers and community leaders.

  • Naoise Nunn
  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The fact that the current economic mess in Ireland would probably have occurred in Ireland if FG and Labour were in power (though possible not quite so bad) or in Britain if the Tories were in power(probably a great deal worse) is irrelevant – when the good times roll you get the credit and if disaster strikes when you are in charge then you are out on your arse. The same logic applies in sport as Jim Magilton(soccer ball) and Eddie o’Sullivan(rugger ball) would both testify – its results stupid.

    Every election until the general election in both countries is an opportunity for both electorates to give the current incumbents the mother of all political beatings.
    But possibly this predicament may offer a glimmer of hope for both parties if they can introduce policies, which although they are massively unpopular with an already estranged electorate which is unable and unhappy to take its required economic medicine( even if they know it is the right thing to do) and particularly if the current oppositions are afraid to risk their own electoral fortunes by proposing the same policies.

    Both FF and Labour have nothing to lose – if the polls are to be believed – as they are dead parties walking – or stumbling towards the finish line of the general election in last place. Why not go for the radical solution – whether its massive cuts in public expenditure or bank nationalisation – here is an opportunity to do the right thing irrespective of popularity and knowing that it might just save their political necks or restore a pinch of political credibility for the next time round.

    The most likely response however, from a political party (as with many organisations) in seemingly terminal decline, is to opt for a bout of civil war(as this thread shows), which no doubt assists in the denial process and in is keeping with their record to date in reacting to events as suits their short term self interest rather than opting for policies which are in the long term national interest.

  • EWI

    On his blog, Constantin Gurdgiev is looking for documented reasons why Mary Coughlan’s not up for the job.

    What a surprise from Libertas member Mr. Gurdgiev (forget that part, Naoise?).

  • Mick Fealty

    Interesting. But remember it’s ball not man EWI!

  • Mack

    EWI – Is that still the case (sorry Mick, hope this isn’t breaking rules) –

    http://www.politics.ie/europe/23567-constantin-gurdgiev-disassociates-libertas.html

    I’ve found some of his recent blog entries to be pretty pro-European, to the chargrin of our leading anti-Euro commenter here (sorry Dave 😉 )…

  • EWI

    EWI – Is that still the case (sorry Mick, hope this isn’t breaking rules)

    Gurdgiev was at the Versailles ball – excuse me, the dinner party -hosted by Declan Ganley in honour of Vaclav Klaus last year:

    “Many of the other 96 diners listed on the table plan, including Ganley, were Libertas organisers. The dinner was also attended by a clutch of Irish and Irish-based journalists sympathetic to Libertas. They included Constantin Gurdgiev, editor of Business & Finance magazine; Eamon Dunphy, the soccer pundit and broadcaster; Bruce Arnold of Independent News Media; Richard Waghorne of the Daily Mail ; and Frank Fitzgibbon, Irish editor of the Sunday Times.”

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2008/1113/1226408581963.html

    Amusingly enough;

    “The guests, who numbered close to 100, were entertained by the Irish Chamber Orchestra from the University of Limerick under the direction of Prof Micheal Ó Suilleabháin as well as a troupe of set-dancers. The menu consisted of house-cured Irish salmon followed by grilled tenderloin steak and vanilla crème brulee.”

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2008/1113/1226408582790.html

    I could speculate on just what it may be that Mr. Gurdgiev finds agreeable in Mr. Ganley, but I’m trying really hard to abide by Mick’s “ball” rule here (and it’s not too hard to find my opinions elsewhere).

  • Dave

    [i]I’ve found some of his recent blog entries to be pretty pro-European, to the chargrin of our leading anti-Euro commenter here (sorry Dave 😉 )… [/i]

    Mack, I’m more of a ranter than a commenter, and I’m certainly not an authority on any subject outside of structural engineering. 😉

    Anyway, Libertas is pro-EU, but anti-federal/integrationist. It seeks reform of the EU to make it more democratic, but does not see that it is intrinsically anti-democratic and should be dismantled, not reformed. Libertas are, of course, on the side of the Irish people as they have expressed their democratic will via the Lisbon referendum, with the government in the role of subverting that democratic will at the behest of their neo-colonial masters in the EU. That subversion of democracy is a good example of why such a profoundly anti-democratic cartel cannot be reformed.

    Gurdgiev makes a number of good points on the link that Naoise Nunn posted. I think we’re heading for a coup of some sort as these muppets have inflicted such damage on the nation that will be clear to all within a year but not fully manifest until two years or more. FF still see the function of the people as being to serve the state in whatever way the state dictates but the people have a very different view about that.

  • EWI

    Anyway, Libertas is pro-EU, but anti federal/integrationist.

    Unfortunately for the self-proclaimed “pro-EU” Libertas, they seem to have rather poor taste in their European friends and allies, the vast majority of whom appear to be right-wing Eurosceptics and cranks.

    I think we’re heading for a coup of some sort

    Do tell?

  • EWI

    A bit of a postscript here – well, a question for Naoise Nunn, actually.

    Are the media reports that you were ‘advising’ McGuinness true, and, if so, don’t you think that you really ought to have disclosed this while posting links favourable to McGuinness’ aims?