“…if you want trouble again in the north play that game. It’s a dangerous game”

There’s been some focus on the comments at the weekend by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern warning about any attempt to “force” a border poll in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.  His remarks are placed in a wider context by the fuller quote in the Belfast Telegraph. Speaking on Newstalk radio, the former Irish prime minister said: “The idea of a border poll… was put there when when I was conceding Articles two and three of the constitution and we were giving … Read more

Putting a narrative on your political past.

The past is always a difficult thing for parties to deal with. The Tories for example, wrestled for years with how they should deal with the Thatcher legacy and modernise themselves to represent a Britain that had socially changed going into the 21st century. Closer to home this very same problem is impacting on Fianna Fail today. The party suffered an all mighty hammering at the polls in 2011 due to the economic collapse and the several austerity budgets that … Read more

Banking Inquiry – Are we really learning anything new?

The Banking Inquiry continues to trundle on and fill the column inches. Each witness that comes before the inquiry promises more detail, better insight and the hope that we are going to get something new. However, one has to question if we are really getting anywhere at all? Of course there is a number of ways to look at these things. The inquiry was always going to be more therapeutic than anything else. In the US and other countries we … Read more

“One step forward. Two steps back. Very awkward.”

In the Irish Times, the peerless Miriam Lord with a useful corrective to more enthusiastic witnesses of the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis at the weekend.  From the Irish Times article. IT WAS all terribly awkward. An excruciating comedy of manners where the anxious principals were petrified they might say the wrong thing and upset the whole country, again, while simultaneously fretting about bumping into embarrassing old acquaintances who would make a show of them. The tense undercurrent made for an odd … Read more

“To say Ireland is cornered might be to understate the situation.”

No agreement emerged on the details of Germany and France’s proposed “pact for competitiveness” for the eurozone at yesterday’s EU Council meeting. The Irish Times reports “a swathe” of opposition expressed at the meeting, while The Guardian editorialises against the German model – but accepts that the eurozone’s “economic rules do need an overhaul”. The EU Council press release is brief on the topic The economic situation The EU leaders discussed the economic situation in Europe and the eurozone. President Van … Read more

“Yet another crucial moment in the debt drama is upon us.”

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels today, including caretaking Taoiseach Brian Cowen, and the Irish Times‘ Derek Scally has had sight of a draft paper on Frau Bundeskanzlerin’s “grand bargain”. From the Irish Times report The draft paper is low on detail but high on ambition: “to create a permanent connection between European competitiveness, growth and viable financial politics”. After presenting the broad brush strokes today, Dr Merkel wants EU leaders to discuss the detail and fill in the canvas by … Read more

All political business done; Cowen goes to the Aras

So this afternoon we’ll get to know the date set by Fianna Fail for the next Irish General Election. Mr Cowen bows out of politics, but apparently bequeaths his substantial local Offaly inheritance to his brother Barry, who will go head to head with Councillor John Foley. (See the Irish Times for a current list of TDs who will definitely not be back). Meantime, Micheal Martin almost gets to pull the stroke that brought down his soon to be erstwhile … Read more

Brian Cowen’s self guillotine motion

Your captions please?? Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

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 … Read more

Fianna Fail: Crisis round to Cowen; next round to Martin…

I’m a big fan of restating the bleedin obvious. It’s a much underestimated tool in the journalist’s skillset. So here’s Harry Magee with the first sentient post leadership crisis analysis after Brian Cowen won his intra party competition tonight: Obvious Conclusion One: The middle ground had not shifted. Obvious Conclusion Two: Nobody other than Brian Cowen has built up a support base in the party. From the evidence of the past week, the pretenders can each rely on only a … Read more

Leadership scrap fritters away precious time for Fianna Fail…

Well, in the last few weeks we’ve had a very direct lesson in the peculiar politics of the Republic: two dismal heaves within Ireland’s two main political parties by insurgents who seem motivated less by personal ambition than by damage limitation at the polls. Of course in Northern Ireland we’ve had a few heaves of our own in the last year. In the first, the SDLP leader Mark Durkan anticipated any prospective move by his party rivals by helping to … Read more

Micheál Martin shows his hand

Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s ‘back me or sack’ challenge to his party has drawn out his first serious challenger.  The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Micheál Martin, has tendered his resignation  and has said that Fianna Fáil should change its leader before the Irish General Election. From the RTÉ report [Micheál Martin] said that he has reluctantly concluded that Fianna Fáil should change its leader before the General Election. He welcomed the Taoiseach’s announcement this evening to table a vote of confidence in his leadership. However, … Read more

Heave, ho?

After a number of false alarms (take your pick), it appears that Brian Cowen may now be under fatal pressure as Taoiseach as his parliamentary party meets at 3 pm today, at which his immediate future may be up for discussion (yet again). Having had to deny any impropriety around his game of golf with Sean Fitzpatrick, formerly of Anglo Irish Bank, he appeared to have just about kept his head above water in the Dáil yesterday. That was until Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, leader of Sinn Féin in … Read more

‘Independence’ is reason Cowen cannot pull off the Brown ‘trick’…

If it’s a given that the Irish media aren’t very fond of Fianna Fail, then Harry McGee’s summation of their prospects is as fair a one as I’ve seen in while. Early on he wonders out loud whether Brian Cowen can do a Brown and bring his party back from the brink so many believe he has already dropped off. The analogy is an interesting one, and no doubt will have some appeal to those inside government. And despite the … Read more

There’s no point in deluding ourselves about what must be done.

This may be a slow burning story which will develop over the next week. Fianna Fáil have belatedly agreed to hold a Dáil debate and vote on the IMF/ECB arrangement to push commercial bank debts onto the taxpayers at a punitive 5.8% plus interest rate while continuing to deny that such a debate or vote is necessary. Backbench pressure to hold the vote apparently will include at least one, if not more  government TDs voting against the agreement. Some of whom have become decidedly erratic of late, … Read more

Irish budget: Slugger’s live blog…

Slugger’s Irish Budget Live Blog We’re kicking off shortly, if you want to follow the live stream from the Dail Chamber, you can pick it here, or at RTE.ie/live … Come in and join the conversation… I’ll be dipping in and out, but Mack should be around for most of the proceedings… Mick FealtyMick 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 … Read more

Cowen: “They might be ready for an election, but they are not ready for government”

One of the biggest questions being asked by the twitizens of the Irish Twitterverse on the day of the Donegal South West bye election was ‘how could 21% of the population vote for Fianna Fail?’… Well, if you have 45 minutes to spare, it’s worth it to watch the Taoiseach in action at Castlefin pumping up the troops… It’s extraordinary to watch a man who is usually so buttoned up and carapaced when dealing with the press lamming into all and sundry … Read more