Out of left field, Sinn Fein launched the perfect storm. So let’s hear it for Leo

 

Wouldn’t you know it? Sinn Fein put down a vote of no confidence first and so set the hare running. Can Fianna Fail afford to lag fortoise-like behind? In a sprung election no-one entirely wants just now, which party  holds the initiative in the tangled web of minority government and balf in. half out opposition?  Back wbere they still feel they belong for Fianna Fail under Micheal Martin? The Last hurrah for Gerry Adams or a rushed new hello for Mary Lou, suddenly catapulted into leadership to go for broke and a share of government?  Or the tyro taioseach winning his own mandate but Fine Gael’s successive tall order  third?

 

The immediate background on Tainaste Frances Fitzgerald, caught in  crosshairs.         (but that was yesterday) 

This was a situation not of her making but  beyond her capacity to cope and that of her officials, it seems. 

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald is facing a battle to save her political career as Opposition parties offered her one last chance to detail her knowledge of a campaign to discredit a Garda whistleblower.

Ms Fitzgerald will face further questions regarding her awareness of efforts by former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to query the “motivation” and character of Sgt Maurice McCabe at a commission of inquiry examining claims of Garda malpractice.

Escalating into political crisis

A meeting of Fine Gael TDs and senators in Leinster House has unanimously passed a motion in support of Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

The parliamentary party issued a statement following the meeting saying it stood firmly behind Ms Fitzgerald.

Tomorrow Fianna Fáil will lodge a motion of no-confidence in the Tánaiste and it will be scheduled to be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday.

Should Ms Fitzgerald not resign before Tuesday the Government will fall and a December election will follow.

There is still an expectation that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin may talk tomorrow but neither look like backing down at this stage.

That means it is either a resignation or an election.

Fianna Fáil’s motion is as a result of the ongoing row over an email sent to Minister Fitzgerald in May 2015 relating to the Maurice McCabe affair

 

The dilemma over Brexit strategy

 The Irish Times understands that the Fine Gael executive council will meet next week and party officials are preparing to have the organisation ready for an election in mid January.

While ministers said December is still an option for an election, other party sources said a formula may need to be found to get the Government over the crucial December 15th meeting of the European Council, without Mr Varadkar being a lame duck.

“We have to be ready for mid-January,” said one figure. “The problem is the December summit, a lame duck Taoiseach can’t go to that. Can a formula be found to limp on until after December 15th and dissolve at Christmas recess? I can’t see Varadkar allowing anything to wreck that summit.

What’s it all about, btw?

The  saga of Garda Maurice McCabe which has claimed the  scalps of two Garda Commissioners, the retirement of two heads of the Justice department, one Justice minister  and now almost  certainly one way or another, a second.  Next, a new taoiseach  and his fragile minority coalition government supported by a confidence and supply deal with   Fianna Fail ?  Opportunities for Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein and a breather for the British?

 

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London