To Brian’s pointed question about Leo, Mary Lou and Drew, I’d add another. What does Mary Lou’s Dail offensive tell us about SF’s attitude to the new and fairly (as far as we can tell) appointed Garda Commissioner and the mechanism of the southern state?
Like their attack on the Special Criminal in the week the Hutch-Kinihan feud began (ie, in the first week of the last southern General Election) it perhaps suggests the SF leader is bound to an NI related agenda likely to be unpopular with the southern middle class.
Leo’s response was gentlemanly (as befits his recent political flirtation with the lady), but firm:
Leo Varadkar I am a little disappointed by the position that Deputy McDonald is taking now, which is almost in the space of trying to undermine confidence in the new Garda Commissioner [Emphasis added]. When it comes to the issues of truth and reconciliation, everyone has a part to play. Yesterday I expressed in the Dáil the Government’s strong view that there should be a public inquiry into Pat Finnucane’s murder. The Tánaiste has met members of the family and will do so again. Truth and reconciliation require that everyone plays their part and that everyone who has information about crimes committed in the past and about atrocities that were inflicted on people should bring that information forward. That applies to…
Mary Lou McDonald: The Garda Commissioner.
Leo Varadkar …Sinn Féin and all the people associated with Sinn Féin as much as it does to anyone else.
The party’s enmity against Harris is both deep and consistent. Having tried to stop his appointment as DCC of the PSNI, he was appointed by the Alliance Party’s Justice Minister David Ford with the full support of every party but SF.
According to the Taoiseach, the appointment is popular with Garda. That’s hardly a surprise. Cops like cops, no matter where they come from, but many will Harris’ directness in dealing with controversial issues, particularly in the political space.
An Garda Siochana has been damaged under its recently cautious, risk-averse and ‘managerialist’ leadership. Harris is personally dynamic and comes from an area where the public accountability structures around the police are light years ahead of the Republic’s.
Nor is he afraid to crack a few eggs when and if the occasion requires it. Mary Lou might be wise to put away her leadership’s concerns (much as they did immediately after his last appointment in 2014), and get on with business as usual.
Apart from anything else, they don’t want to force Leo to prematurely draw down the shutters on her political flirtation and join Micheal Martin on the never never bench which continuance of the vendetta on Harris would almost certainly bring.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty