New Irish Government blogburst…

Kicking off with Lise Hand’s great wee photo op story from yesterday’s announcement that the deal was finally sealed (95% of Labour delegates voted for the deal)…

Eamon Gilmore did have to do one big backtrack — a complete U-turn, in fact — before the day was over.

As he went to leave Herbert Park, he discovered that the gate was closed. And so Eamon had to retrace his steps and hurry through the last open gate where the park chap with the keys waited impatiently to lock up. One man watched Eamon’s hasty exit past the park-keeper’s beady eye.

“That’s your first clash with the public sector,” he remarked to the departing Labour leader.

Still, the honeymoon was nice while it lasted.

– And Garibaldy has a nice quote from Aunty Mary, whose big posters in the centre of Athlone were not enough to save her own seat:

It is just nonsense for Fianna Fail members to continue saying that it was the hard economic decisions that has rendered us to this paltry 20-seat membership of the 31st Dail.

Of course, the difficult decisions had an effect; but it was not the only reason. The real reason was the almost 24 years, from 1987, of government by Fianna Fail.

– Also in that post is a piece that deserves mention and link of its own, this from Jody Corcoran, who seems surprised that his previous prediction that a Fine Gael only government never came to pass:

I respect the mandate of these “colourful” TDs, a mandate granted by 12.6 per cent of the people, which is 2.5 per cent stronger than the mandate granted to Labour in the previous election.

It seems, however, that Enda Kenny does not respect that mandate, certainly not to the extent that he was prepared to pick up the telephone to establish what common ground may exist, and, more importantly, what radical ideas may emanate from a groundswell opinion which has long since tired of the inevitability of what has gone before and failed.

– Jane Suiter on the new government’s commitment to political reform:

It is not quite so clear where political reform will fit into the new Departmental structures. Nonetheless, there are very welcome moves to reform the committee system, introduce pre-legislative scrutiny, and allow investigations and so on. All of this will allow a much greater role for TDs and is worthy of a far longer post here.

However, it is somewhat disappointing to see that Fine Gael’s Citizen Assembly has been replaced with Labour’s Constitutional Convention. Bringing in the people to build demand from the bottom up as the Fine Gael manifesto proposed would have been very powerful.

On the upside the Labour proposal  is wider in scope as Fine Gael were only to consider the electoral system and women in politics.

And Jason cogitates on how scary all this coalition stuff has been for the Brits:

…you have to be impressed with the clockwork mechanism we have now developed for assembling governments after elections. I remember watching, wth other pol hacks,  the sheer terror on the faces of British political journalists last May when they realised no one had won an overall majority.

It was really very funny as they talked about the pound collapsing, etc, and I remember thinking: “Either British politicians seriously overestimate their own importance, or Britain as a country is far more unstable than Ireland. Or Belgium, for that matter. Or Italy, even.”\

– Eoghan Harris wins Headline of the week with, “Fine Gael is batting on a Sticky wicket until next election”…

– More directly to the point is the four year straightjacket which Brendan Keenan helpfully points out is still in place:

Unless there has been some secret understanding over the newly elected Government’s proposals, there will be fury in Frankfurt over the postponement of €10bn new capital for the banks, which was due to be paid at the end of last month. Since ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet was complaining about it just last week, it seems unlikely that any such understanding exists.

The ECB sees the rapid sale of loans and other assets by AIB and Bank of Ireland, to make them smaller and easier to finance, as the only way it can soon get back some of the €150bn it has lent to Irish banks. But such a process will load many more billions on to the national debt, and would seem to remove any chance of the new Government getting more credit into the economy.

If the new Coalition is going to have a fight with Europe, this is the issue to pick. Yet the document is puzzling, even contradictory. Beyond the justified complaining about what Ireland is being asked to do, it is hard to know what the new Government is going to do.