We did not have that at midnight last night or did we have it at 8 AM this morning. Cowen had no intention whatsoever of going to the country until well post St Patricks Day. He had no choice, however this is window dressed and whatever spin is placed on it by Fianna Fail there is or can be no doubt as to what happened.
The Greens and not Fianna Fail dictated when and at most FF were allowed choose only the actual day of the week!
Cowen came out fighting in the leadership challenge and once again got one more chance from the parliamentary party when he got a two to one vote conformation of his position. That out of the way, he began the process of preparing the party for the election by putting up new faces, even if it was seen by dispassionate observers as a ‘changing deck chairs on the Titanic’ exercise.
The ‘Big Idea’ was to immediately replace all his retiring Ministers with others who would begin distancing themselves from the actions of previous Ministers in the same office where necessary. New faces where possible would be presented to the public and a Ministerial car in judicially used in a borderline constituency could save a Fianna Fail seat.
There is a disconnect not alone between the Fianna Fail Government members and the public, there is also one between the Fianna Fail government and it’s own backbenchers. Some were horrified at the idea. One was quoted in RTE news as having said to a reporter:
“Whatever chance I have of being re-elected in my constituency as a humble TD, I would be stoned if I turned up in a Ministerial car!”
In a news management and spin exercise Fianna Fail press office began announcing Ministerial resignations after the six oc news yesterday evening, some announcements even came after the nine oc news. Vintage FF. The new Ministers were designated by the kitchen cabinet and the process of contacting these began this morning.
It is now apparent that the word had got around the backbenchers and those with political savvy and a good survival instincts had their phones switched off and were not to be found!
At some stage this morning when contact was made with the Greens, in usual Fianna Fail style, they were not asked about the new Ministerial appointments, they were told of it as a fait accomplai. It was the Taoiseach’s prerogative to appoint Ministers etc.
Fine in normal times. However these are not normal times and the Greens are jittery and have been since the budget. They at least are keyed into the public mood. What was good for Fianna Fail and the party was not good for Governance and the Country, and most definitely for the Greens and how they would have been perceived.
The Greens said No!
This time it is clear and transparent: Fianna Fail Ministers and Senior Party TD are openly admitting what happened. The Greens were not in the Dail when Brian Cowen made his ‘climb down’ announcement. They were still in conclave at the end or the RTE news special at two o’clock.
The Greens have learned a few lessons from their association with FF, they like the FF backbenchers know when to make themselves scarce and keep the head down. Being ‘in a meeting’ covers a multitude of sins; it was far easier to hole up in some room, watch what was happening in the Dail on TV and then formulate the best possible response over an uninterrupted coffee and biscuits, perhaps even a leisurely meal.
The contrast between the ellubent Brian Cowen of yesterday playing to the gallery, slagging off the opposition and leading the hilarity of the Fianna Fail benches could not be greater when contrasted with to-days persona of annoyance, anger and sulks. Anyone doubt to-day that Micheal Martin called it right ?
To quote a political commentator on RTE
This is political theatre, no it is not theatre, it is pantomime !
The Greens will have the day to assess all the news and Dail reaction. They will probably emerge in time for the evening news in a collective, coherent, composed group. John will do his ‘ for the good of the Nation bit’ in a grave Statesmanlike voice and take credit for halting the Fianna Fail stroke, much as it pained him to do it. They will also claim credit for having set the election day date… and will be believed.
Fianna Fail are in a shambles and now the recriminations will really start. Cowen has no credibility. the ‘half government’ left in most cases were disasters in their existing departments and now they are to take on other Ministries as well as their own? The press will have a field day with that!
This was to be the start of the fight back, the turn around, Instead it has been an own goal, a monumental disaster for Brian Cowen and the Fianna Fail party Seniors. For the backbenchers and the rank and file on the ground, it is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’
Lenihan’s brother has just called for Cowens resignation as “quick decisive action was needed from the Senior party members” and this is but the start of the open infighting and disintegration.
Noel Whelan is correct when he said that there is no floor under how far Fianna Fail can fall. Just wait until when how to-day’s Cowen blunder played out in the States and other foreign media is fed back here in time for the Sunday papers.
Fianna Fail’s election run will start with a political crucifixion and this time there will be no resurrection!
All FF supporters have been there when supporting their own county teams GAA Teams, this is the point of where all but the hard core of the supporters loosing team are streaming towards the gate. Even though there is still a quarter of an hour left, such is the inevitability and scale of the defeat that what is happening on the pitch no longer matters.
I am now listening to the Greens press conference live on TV.
1) Gormley, Boyle and Ryan told Cowen yesterday afternoon that they did not think that new ministers was a good idea
2) Gormerly only heard of the new appointments going ahead on this mornings 7-am news.
3) They had a Green Party meeting at 9.30 this morning and in the aftermath again told the Brian Cowen that it was not on and the rest flowed from at least two meetings between Cowen and the Greens.
It is a shambles, a disaster, a monumental blunder or what ever other such term can be applied for Fianna Fail. To continue the crucifixion anthology, to-morrow will see the scourging of Fianna Fail at the press pillar, that will continue through to the Sundays and then there the remaining forty-seven slow painful days to Calvary with more than the original three falls guaranteed !