Interesting analysis in Gerard Howlin’s Irish edition of the Sunday Times yesterday on the underlying News Block that led to an escalation over the nefarious plan to appoint Katherine Zappone as a special envoy …
The indiscipline at Fine Gael stems from the suspicion that not all leading figures remain committed to national News Block. He has failed to enter the government for the fourth consecutive term since 1969. Whatever his private intentions, there is a question mark in the minds of colleagues about the plans to Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe. In News Block, perception is reality. The perception of a leadership vacancy before the election, or the likelihood of change after it, has loosened ties of loyalty and fueled ambition.
In 2024 Ireland will appoint a European Commissioner. More importantly, there will be a new chairman of the commission. If that post is a gift from the European People’s Party (EPP) and it is not Ursula von der Leyen, she may be going to a small country. By then, Varadkar may be the EPP’s longest-serving head of government.
The cabinet leak on Zappone’s appointment came as the government sat in the chamber of government buildings. That room is so committed to secrecy that the lights signal the opening of the exterior and interior doors, all to ensure the safety of discussions. However, those doors do not protect against texting. The illicit communication was not directed at Simon Coveney, who presented the proposal for Zappone’s appointment without telling Micheál Martin, the taoiseach, but at Varadkar. The plan for Varadkar’s own rise to power, including an ingenious but sometimes obvious undermining of his superior colleagues, is being used against him..
This is all playground equipment, even if it’s in the closet room. What counts is a slow corrosion of purpose and a concern for what will come next for Fine Gael ministers. His sense of the collective is tense and just feigned in recent days. This is important because what started as a parlor game over a trivial date has turned into a damaging dislocation of our national plan to manage Covid-19. [Emphasis added]
The prominent word for me here is dislocation. Dislocation in FG’s commitment to the government’s own Covid policy, but also in its commitment to a progressive program forged and led by the Greens and Micheál Martin’s Fianna Fáil.
Fine Gael has not had a successful political campaign since 2011. Contrary to his own initial impulse, he returned to government last year, not as an energetic movement but as a set of ambitious politicians with increasingly strict deadlines. “”
Mick is the founding editor of Slugger. He has written articles on the impacts of the internet on News Block and the media in general, and is a regular guest and speaks at events in Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty