Ministers desert Cowen’s Restaurant at the end of the Universe…

Just in passing Brian Cowen’s government appears to be in free fall as four members of his cabinet have added their resignations to that of Micheal Martin. All of them were retiring from the Dail at the next election, and therefore have nothing to lose from their actions.

Update: Dempsey’s just said on Morning Ireland, Cowen asked for his resignations. So it is a stroke. Or an attempt at one. Un-named FF backbencher has said its probably safer where he is than on Cowen’s front bench after a re-shuffle…

Auntie Mary was already ‘not pleased’ with Mary Hanafin, she’s been keen to steady backbench nerves and get them to back their beleaguered leader. Mary Harney’s decision drives a cart and horses through those (admittedly rather hastily laid) plans.

There’s some speculation on Politics.ie that with these guys going there is some kind of cunning plan afoot to promote five new ministers from back benches into the cabinet. I think that underestimates the generally cautious approach of the Taoiseach, and (see Miriam Lord’s advice in today’s Irish Times) his political vulnerability.

It seems more likely that he’s the one this uncompromising message is aimed at. His performance at Leaders Questions today shows little awareness of the extent to which belief in his leadership has drained not alone from his political rivals, but from his own party:

He seems more intent on putting into action a pre-planned offensive against Labour (note it’s peppered with multiple references to Gilmore’s history with Democratic Left), rather than doing what his party wants him to do and communicate why he’s been making these tough decisions.

Not to mention expressing some human understanding of what those decisions mean to the citizens of the country.

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  • Mick Fealty

    Hmmmm… I note that Noel Dempsey sat beside the Taoiseach during Leader’s Questions yesterday… Curiouser and curiouser…

    Just two thirds of a government left at Leinster House, and as Miriam puts it: “PLUM JOBS, once upon a time. Ministerial prunes now.”

  • Munsterview

    Mick : I see that you picked up on this too!

    A bit of reposting from the last thread on the subject of Cowen as it also belongs here .

    “…Another important milestone was passed today by Cowen…… he taunted Labour with their Democratic Left past, not a lot but just enough to let them know that if they played rough then he would play dirty!

    I would be very surprised indeed if Cowen do not already have the files on ‘Fundraising’ ‘Funny Money’ and other such things from the ‘Old Days’. All the current mid rank and top brass in the park were promoted under FF patronage and these things are a two way street!

    There is another characteristic of Fianna Fail not referred to here so far in this debate, they are dangerous when cornered. More than a few now realize they are just that, cornered, so this is going to get very down and dirty folks…..”

  • pippakin

    Cowen is obviously isolated but not so much he lost the confidence vote. If the Greens stick to the March deadline the election is a couple of months away, just time for the electorate to acclimatise to some, relatively, new faces?

    As for dirty washing most parties will have a binfull, there is only one with enough to fill every laundry in Ireland and that one aint Labour, FF, FG or the Greens.

    It will be dirty and it looks as though Cowen and FF will take on all comers.

  • pippakin

    The other aspect is often when there is a reshuffle the departing ministers are the subject of speculation and are sometimes objects of failure. By resigning any conjecture regarding their individual performance is avoided.

    It may be a stunt but it is not desertion.

  • Cynic2

    Munsterview

    I agree. It will be a very very dirty campaign when it comes. No-one is clean but I predict that SF will suffer most

    All those little land deals where the profits then funded retirement homes in Donegal and the like may come out.

  • Fionn

    It may get dirty, but they’ll have to come up with something better on SF than the nudge nudge wink wink stuff you’re indulging in here, esp as there is proven stuff to fling at the other parties.

  • Fionn

    and also on P.ie looks like Batt O’Keefe has just resigned aswell

  • Assuming it is up to Cowen when to call the election, and there is no set date at present, tactically the best option is to decide second week of May and announce early. Would be long lead and plenty of time for opposition to articulate alternative (or not) and would stretch SF north and south with very contradictory messages. Note that no-one is expecting Cowen and FF to just roll over.

  • Cynic2

    Fionn

    And you think they don’t have it? Do get real.

    SF have been a protected species in the Republic for years to help foster the process but when it gets down to an election where they represent a real threat watch what happens

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Oh, it’s a FF attempted stroke alright. A ministerial car appears in the sticks and the peasants line up to be seen with the local boy made good which used to guarantee a few thousand extra votes. It’s backfired this time though and Cowan’s caught by the short and curlies either way now.

    It’s spoiled his half decent performance in the Dail yesterday as well. He destroyed Kenny and of course will continue to do so unless FG put Enda back in the box. It’ll get interesting during the campaign as Gilmore and Cowan demand live TV head to heads and Kenny tries to avoid them until as late as possible, ironically like what FF used to do with one B Ahern who was poor on this.

    Another thing – it mightn’t be wise for FF to get too stuck into Labour TDs with a Sinn Fein (Official) past seeing as they’ll be lining up to go into coalition with Sinn Féin (Provisional) next time around.

  • “SF have been a protected species in the Republic for years to help foster the process but when it gets down to an election where they represent a real threat watch what happens”

    Unsubstantiated nonsense. Do you ever read the southern papers? They’ve all been full anti-SF stuff, particularly the Indo, Sindo, Evening Herald & Tribune for as long as I can remember. Then you have leaked Garda files to the likes of ‘Boots’ McDowell. The likes of McDowell briefing Sam Smyth. What was Willie O’Dea getting up to? The FF shenanigans at the time of the St Andrews Agreement. SF blacklisting on RTE panel programmes. FFS I could go on all night with examples.

    Protected species yer hole.

  • Fionn

    Ulick has beaten me to it, this is more nudge nudge wink wink, if you have actual beans to spill fire ahead, else best to leave the subject alone because as I said there is plenty of factual stuff to smear the other parties with.

    Perhaps Slugger is well protected but one Sunday paper is already in court over a SF smear story, so feel free to add the detail to your holiday homes story

  • Mick Fealty

    No, Slugger is not protected. But there is a complaints button if you think anyone has stepped outside the line, legally or otherwise.

  • John Ó Néill

    “Slugger is not protected.”

    I have to back Mick up here (for once). People don’t have to read or comment on the blogs they don’t like. And if you are familiar with the frequency with which threads need to be closed on politics.ie you’d quickly see the difference between heaviy criticism of people’s views and outright misrepresentation, libel etc.

    To get back on topic (which is far from nudge nudge wink wink) – at the moment of writing the government is something like 6 senior ministers down, the Greens are, eh, undecided, and there may be no government left by this evening.

    I was going to say no government worth talking about but there hasn’t been one of those for a while now…

  • Fionn

    Mick/John, the reference to Slugger and protection was directed at the posters inferring the existence of scandal within SF ranks.

    With reference to the govt been 6 ministers down, I was reminded of the old WW2 joke about the RAF PoW in Germany who after having a leg amputated requested that it be dropped over England and doing the same when he lost another leg, however after losing an arm the Germans refused to also drop it over England as they thought he was trying to escape, could FF be doing the same and quietly leaving the Dail one by one until 70 odd resignations later Biffo quietly switches the lights off and slips out of Dail.

  • Fionn

    Then again things might speed up, P.ie are posting rumours from the Greens that they will pull the Govt down today, although its a bit of the boy who cried wolf with the Greens, we’ve heard similar before.

  • Fionn

    Now appears to be 7 down with Jnr Minister Finneran rumoured to be gone

  • Cynic2

    My my, how sensitive the SF supporters on here seem to be about Financial issues. You only have to mention it and they pile in shocked and outraged that those who helped manage the murder of thousands of their fellow citizens might have got their hands on a bit of cash along the way.

    By the way,what did their friends in PIRA do with the rest of the cash never recovered from the Northern Bank? And all the money made from smuggling and hijacking cigarettes? Or the payment from FARC?Or all the otehr little rackets and schemes?

    Did it all just evaporate? Who benefited? Did it all go to the prisoners families? Care to tell us where it went? Who now owns all the properties and other assets the movement invested in over the years? Where did all the money go?

  • Cynic2

    Mick

    You will note that, while being deliberately provocative, I am also being very careful.

    I have no wish to troll but the sanctimonious stance of some is sometimes breathtaking

  • Cynic2

    Fionn

    By the way….I do agree with you on one thing. This is now a zombie government – the political walking dead whose only purpose is to continue to exist.

    What is the definition of Irish political optimism? The Taoiseach’s wife ironing him 5 good shirts on a Sunday night.

  • Sean Og

    Oh dear! It all appears to have backfired on Brian.

    He’s been forced to announce the election date and can’t appoint new Ministers. A bad day for the Great Leader.

  • redhugh78

    Cynic 2,
    ‘By the way,what did their friends in PIRA do with the rest of the cash never recovered from the Northern Bank? And all the money made from smuggling and hijacking cigarettes? Or the payment from FARC?Or all the otehr little rackets and schemes?’

    The usual innuendo trotted out ad nauseum.
    If it were true, surely there would be a wealth of evidence to substantiate your assertions?

  • Fionn

    by rest of the cash i take it you mean minus the cash recovered from the police sports centre and from the fianna fail supporting financial guy, good place to start would be the psni, fianna fail and then labour (the party who appointed flynn to his job)

    then ask fine gael why the AIB wrote off 200,000 of party debt for them and bailed out garret.

    but now you’re getting confused are you discussing sinn fein or the ira? and why are you doing it on a thread about fianna fail.

  • Ceist

    Fionn,
    Are you suggesting that former Vice President of Sinn Fein Phil Flynn doesn’t support SF anymore?

  • These resignations [rats jumping a sinking ship] have nothing to do with the reported €320,000 golden goodbye handshake and juicy pension entitlement, of course.

  • Fionn

    Ceist, I’m stating as fact that Flynn was nominated to his state job by the Labour Party, and that he now rejects militant republicanism, as to which party he actually supports I cannot answer, are you guessing he still supports SF or can you say for certain

  • Cynic2

    Fionn

    I hope you are happy on Planet Sinn Fein where you have swallowed all the propaganda. Or do you write it?

    Two wrongs do not make a right. There were crooks in the Irish Government and there are crooks in Sinn Fein too. It seems that you are happy with one but totally deny the other.

    And wasn’t the financiers final defence in court that the wheelie bins full of Northern Bank notes were given to him by PIRA and he was afraid to refuse to launder them for them? But sure they are all lying. As Gerry said you cant be a republican and a criminal – which is no doubt why the Special Criminal Court will aquit poor Mr Murphy in due course.

    And can you just remind us why the state has argued in court that he should be tried in the SCC?

    No doubt in due course his local TD will be there to support him

  • Fionn

    Cynic, what is the reason given for the cash showing up in the coppers leisure centre?

  • Cynic2

    Fionn

    SF taking the piss when they were under pressure.