LI didn't intend to start a blog just to analyse the Sunday Tribune every week. It just happens they've had more of the stories I feel like commenting on lately.

The cover story this week is speculation that Bertie plans to call the general election next year, rather than wait for the May 2007 deadline. This will no doubt be replied to with a denial from the Taoiseach's office, but it's actually what I have suspected for several months now. Open disagreements between the coalition partners have been increasing, most recently on the building of a new terminal at Dublin Airport and Michael McDowell's proposal for a new "café-bar" licence. In addition, there are a few FF backbenchers who are very strongly opposed to McDowell's planned introduction of Anti Social Behaviour Orders - listening to the Dáil debate last week one could have been forgiven for thinking Pat Carey and John McGuinness were actually members of the opposition. McGuinness, especially; I cannot recall ever seeing a member of a Government party speak out so strongly against a Government proposition. Frankly, this doesn't look like a coalition that has two years left in it.

So what does it mean? Hard to say at this point. Obviously, one of the most important things is getting the PDs out of Government. The damage they have done is immense. I would not be in favour of Sinn Féin going into coalition with FF this time around - we will have around 10 TDs at most and I doubt FF would be as generous to us with key Ministries as they have been to the PDs. And I'm not sure there would be the numbers for FF to coalesce with those independents who'd be willing to do so. I can't see FF and FG going in together, even though you couldn't slide an envelope between their political philosophies (including the one their grandparents went to war over), and Labour have ruled out going in with FF, but there don't appear to be the numbers for them to go in with FG, or even with FG and the Greens. So it's all to play for, really.

I do think it's hilarious that Labour are willing to coalesce with the (slightly) further right of the two main parties, though. A fortnight ago in the Dáil SF introduced a Private Members motion against the privatisation of Aer Lingus. FG, predictably, opposed it; Labour supported it. What would they have done if they were in Government together when we introduced it? Or when we introduced our bill to enshrine neutrality into the Constitution, which Labour also supported and FG opposed? Over the past few years Labour have already moved further right than many in their traditional base would like; their former chief strategist Fergus Finlay openly admitted that they were courting the middle class vote because they think the trade unions, etc., aren't relevant anymore. In Government with Fine Gael they're only going to move even further right. And Sinn Féin will be there, nipping at their heels, on their left.

Incidentally, I'm somewhat neutral on the café-bar thing. I think there are a lot of bogus arguments being thrown around by both sides. Nobody in Ireland limits their drinking (during normal hours) because they can't find a place to get a drink, after all. Nor are many people going to say "Well, I could stay in this pub the whole night, but now that there's a café-bar next door I'll just go there and have a meal with my pint instead". I'm all for the idea of café-bars, actually, because I really quite like them, but I think it would be more sensible to provide incentives for existing pubs to convert, rather than opening additional establishments. I haven't thought out how you'd do that though, so please don't ask me!

The Trib was surprisingly short this week of things-to-make-me-throw-the-paper-across-the-room. My greatest outrage was at a letter to the editor suggesting that the FAI should withdraw from the Champions League next year and nominate Liverpool instead. The day they do that is the day I stop giving any money to anything having to do with Irish soccer. Fortunately it's not going to happen, but it absolutely disgusts me that an Irish person would suggest it in any case. Sure, why don't we just let England have Roy Keane and Damien Duff as well? We're probably not going to need them next year.


Damhna said...

I take it you dont like the Tribune then ? :)

I never read it so I cant join you in your indignant outrage , I can point you at some a snicker worthiness Trib tale though.

Now back to reading the rest of the blog.

Wednesday said...

The sad thing is, the Trib isn't even the worst of the lot.

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