Saturday 21 September 2019

Green political suicide bound to end in tears


IMAGINE, AFTER almost three years of tweeting in Government, it's from the opposition benches that you managed to flex your muscles the most. Time will tell if the Greens did the right thing. While the vast majority of polls this week have told ye that it was about time ye ditched Fianna Fail and pulled the plug, those sentiments may not transfer to polling boots up and down this country.

The trouble is, Dan, ye are guilty by association. The very fact that ye decided to enter Government with the most successful and ruthless political machine this country has ever known meant that everything ye stood for and promised was being put on the line. For some, doing business with Fianna Fail is an act of bravery and a show of moral courage.

For others, it's nothing short of downright political suicide that is bound to end in tears. History has a funny habit of repeating itself. Just ask Dick Spring. You may not be aware of this, but while you have been tweeting to your hearts' content over the last two years, Green Party activists and supporters have been looking deep into their souls about your bizarre and often rocky relationship with Fianna Fail.

Were it a marriage, the Greens were staying in it for the sake of the kids, but sleeping in different rooms, if you get my drift. And like George Lee and a few others, the Irish political system taught ye that getting things done and bringing about change once inside Dail Eireann is not all it's cracked up to be, and it's definitely not as easy as one might promise on the election hustings. Your problem now is that the Greens have suffered the same rub of the brush as that which has smeared Fianna Fail.

Come election day, voters are likely to see the Greens as part of the problem. Not so long ago - less than three years in fact - ye sold yerselves to the Irish electorate as part of the solution. Ye would assume the role of Big Brother inside Leinster House, keeping a close eye on Fianna Fail lest they try and get up to any of their old tricks. Well, they did get up to their old tricks.

It's the nature of the beast. And when Fianna Fail gets on a role, there's only one solution: Walk and be damned. In my view, Dan, Fianna Fail never really had any respect for your little party. From day one, it was a marriage of convenience. From Fianna Fail's perspective, it was mere numbers that brought ye together in government - not political like-mindedness. For the sake of government, Fianna Fail said they would throw ye a few sweeteners and accede to a few Green initiatives. But they were always going to be in control. Fianna Fail always wore the pants in the marriage.

You mightn't like to admit it, but the Greens were nothing more than whipping boys for the last two-and-ahalf years. Despite this, you and Gormley and Ryan and few others did try to stand up to the bullies. Even Deputy Gogarty flexed his muscles a few times, sometimes drawing on the most colourful of language to get his point across.

And for somebody who is elected to absolutely nothing - not even the Seanad of which you are a member - you managed to get a good run yourself. That really bothered Fianna Fail. The fact that you seemed to be calling shots on how government should behave and you not even an elected member of Leinster House galled the soldiers of destiny no end. I wouldn't throw in the towel just yet, Dan. I'm not so convinced that the outcome of the next election is as clear-cut as many see it. First of all, I'm not convinced Fianna Fail will do as badly as some of the polls suggest. Tipp O'Neill was right and will always be right - "all politics is local". Put simply, every humble Fianna Fail candidate up and down this country will play innocent between now and the election. The problems, they will tell us, had nothing to do with them on the ground - it was all the fault of Lenihan and Cowen and those big, bad boys up in Dublin.

They're genius when it comes to spin. Secondly, just because a dyed-in-the-wool Fianna Fail supporter abandons the party he or she loved for years does not automatically mean they will vote for Enda or Eamon Gilmore. Independent candidates - particularly those who have broken away from Fianna Fail - will offer a way out.

That way, Fianna Fail supports can sleep peacefully at night. And it's quite likely that many of them would sooner vote for a Green than a Blueshirt. When the counting is done, Enda won't have the numbers on his own and Labour are dreaming if they think Gilmore will be Taoiseach. But combined, they will have a surplus - too much of a surplus. If Enda can make up the numbers any other way, he will. The smaller the coalition partner, the less cabinet seats he has to give away.

And that's how ye and a scattering of independents could be back in the fray again. So don't turn off the phone just yet, Dan. Keep tweeting. And if I were you, don't tweet anything that could in any way upset Enda or Gilmore between now and polling day. They could come knocking on the Green door very soon. Before ye know it, ye could be back up on your state bicycles again, saving the planet and saving the country. Funny old game this, politics. I'm sure ye've learned that much by now.

Most Read