The vagaries of forming a Government are swinging by the week. Last week, the Independent TDs were getting all the attention but it now appears the move is back on Labour and the Greens when it comes to forming a reliable Government.
With very few Independents having voted for Taoiseach after three Dáil votes, perhaps the patience of Enda Kenny is wearing thin on that front.
A less formal arrangement with Labour and the Green Party might be more preferable, edging them towards the 60 seat mark. two above the 58 votes that Fianna Fáil have determined are necessary for them to support a minority Fine Gael-led Government.
One suspects it may well take another week or two for the endgame to be realised and formalised, but it appears that, at the time of writing at least, that we will have a minority government in place roughly two months after we went to the polls.
On Radio One’s ‘Countrywide’ programme, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary castigated the electorate, including himself, when stating: “It’s all very well for people to be running around electing the local favourite or the local lunatic or whichever that might be, but at the end of the day we’ve got to be a bit more sensible.”
He described Independents as “grandstanders” and claimed some of our worst ever administrations had been “held to ransom” by Independent TDs. A supporter of water charges, Mr O’Leary also said Sinn Féin appear to wish to be “in permanent opposition”, adding that the average voter appears to have “a depressing habit of running around voting for somebody who tells us they’ll abolish the water charges or they’ll lower taxes”. He believes we should be voting for politicians who are realistic enough to deal with what is possible in the current financial circumstance, as opposed to embracing fantastical political commitments.
The Sunday Independent suggested last weekend that the constituency by constituency demands made by Independents comes to a mind-boggling €13 billion, an investment that simply cannot be realised at the present time. Budgets still need to be approved by the EU,
after all. We no longer act alone on such matters.
The primary demand in Waterford at present, among many, admittedly, is the delivery of 24/7 cardiac care at University Hospital Waterford (UHW), the cost of delivery believed to be in the range of €4 million. This, when one considers it would be a regional, multi-constituency investment, does not seem to belong among wild and fantastical demands facing the next government. After all, such an investment would also reduce ambulance and other transportation costs and also reduce pressure on existing services in both Dublin and Cork.
We feel that it’s time for the Independents to get real and be practical. Playing to the gallery can only work for so long; after all, some tough decisions have to be taken.
Fianna Fail also need to be pragmatic and not get too sidetracked by the prospect of some members who do not wish them to even assist a minority FG-led government.
Sinn Féin’s position is clear: they shall only enter office as the largest party and if a minority administration does well, with Fianna Fáil offering specific support to the government and constructive opposition, then Micheál Martin’s balancing act could work in his favour. The people have spoken. The result proved inconclusive. But it’s time we were governed again.