by David Quinn
Tuesday, 16
June 2020
Reaction
14:14

Irish schadenfreude about Britain has come full circle

The turbulence of UK politics has spread to Ireland
by David Quinn
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin, Ireland. Credit: Getty Images

Many Irish people take great pleasure looking down their noses at Britain and its political tribulations. We aren’t the only ones, I suspect, but I would say we particularly enjoy it because Britain ruled us for so long.

We felt pleased with ourselves because we seemed to handle the outbreak of Covid-19 better than Britain, although in truth we are no great shakes compared with other small, sparsely populated countries.

But in between times, we had a general election of our own on February 8. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his Fine Gael party did very badly. They won just 20.9% of the vote, a bit behind the old foe, Fianna Fail, and even more shockingly behind Sinn Fein.

For the first time ever neither Fianna Fail nor Fine Gael were anywhere close to having the required number of seats to allow them to govern with one or maybe two other small parties. Fianna Fail won just 38 seats and Fine Gael 35 in the 160 seat Lower House (the ‘Dail’).

Fianna Fail had explicitly promised in the election that they would not go into coalition with Fine Gael, leaving the electorate with the same choice they have had for decades; either a Fianna Fail-dominated Government, or a Fine Gael-dominated one.

They went into power with Fine Gael anyway. And what is more, we are to have rotating Prime Ministers. Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin, will be Taoiseach until December 15, 2022, followed by whoever is Fine Gael leader by then.

In a way, what is happening is historic. These parties were on opposite sides of the Irish civil war that followed Independence in 1922, but now they are headed into Government together for the first time.

On the other hand, it is indicative of the increasingly fragmented nature of Irish politics. We used to having a very good idea before an election of who and what kind of Government we would have afterwards, but that is far from the case now.

As it happens, the new Government will also include the Green Party which won just 7% of the vote in the election. Despite this, they have been given enormous say over the new Programme for Government, which includes a commitment to slash carbon emissions by an incredible 50% in just 10 years.

This extremely far-reaching, eye-wateringly expensive proposal is emphatically not what the vast majority of the electorate voted for, but we are getting it anyway. We might as well have elected Extinction Rebellion.

Given this state of affairs, I’m not sure we can afford to feel too smug about British politics anymore. It has taken more than four months to agree a new Government, subject to the approval of the party memberships. But assuming that happens, there is a reasonable chance that the Government will not last its full five years because the parties could easily fall out. Then it will be back to chaos, or maybe a Sinn Fein-led Government.

Meanwhile, Boris, for all the challenges he faces, has his 80-seat majority. Who’s laughing now?

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Armchair Contrarian
Armchair Contrarian
2 years ago

Odd piece. Hardly much equivalence between the UK’s inept clown car of a government causing tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths AND one of the worst economic downturns with FF and FG taking 4 months to form a government with the Greens is there? Not even in terms of politicians’ honesty, given the Tories are congenitally incapable of telling the truth about anything.

Ireland still very much in possession of the ‘laughing rights’.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
2 years ago

It would take a heart of stone etc. Serves Mr Viagra right.

Des Hanrahan
Des Hanrahan
2 years ago

I think that the delay in forming a Government was caused mainly by Covid19 and it’s associated restrictions . The talks went very quickly afterwards . It is also interesting that Fine Gael seem to be calling the shots and will actually be the dominant party in the Government despite having fewer seats than Fianna Fáil . This is causing a lot of disquiet in both Fianna Fáil and the Greens to the extent that there is a grass roots revolt in both parties .

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
2 years ago

We can send the army back in when the potato famine kicks off.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago

What an interesting essay, thank you.
It does show that ‘ the elixir of power’ trumps everything! So venal have ‘our’ politicians become that there is no skulduggery to which they will not stoop.
Perhaps it is time for Sinn Fein?
The 22nd August,
2022 is the centenary of the assassination of Michael Collins, that could be the day to give Sinn Fein their chance. Others have done it before, have they not?

Terry Mushroom
Terry Mushroom
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

“…give Sinn Fein their chance”? Isn’t that the party with a military wing that’s killed some 2000 people?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Mushroom

Yes, the very same, but it’s time to move on.
We were quiet happy to hand over the Palestine Mandate to Zionist killers back in 1948, for example, so why object to Sinn Fein? The Irish War was concluded by the sainted Tony Blair twenty two years ago, and it may also facilitate our chances of getting rid of Ulster once and for all.
Not a bad thing when you consider the Ulster ‘subsidy’ massively exceeds even that which we dish out to ungrateful Scots. In fact it is nearly the same as we used to pay to the wretched European Union.

Hywel Morgan
Hywel Morgan
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Three quarks for muster Mark! Pray, give us your estimates of what we pay to the Scots and the Prots. As Mr Quinn did not note, “80-seat majority”Boris needs Ulster no more. And “virgin Sturgeon needs no urgin'” to keep Scotland safe. By the way, who’s the “we” wots doin’ the payin’?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Hywel Morgan

“Does nobody understand?”
The whole of the Scotch thing revolves around the question of North Sea Oil, as you probably know, so any figure would be highly toxic! At a guess I would calculate it is about one billion per annum, but no doubt someone will correct me.
On Ulster the figures for 2018 were £8.1bn to the EU and £9.2bn to Ulster.
You are correct that 80-seat Boris no longer needs Ulster. It has hung like a putrefying Albatross around our kneck since at least the Buckingham Palace Conference of July, 1914.
The “we wots doin’ the payin”, as you must have guessed, is, as always, the long suffering UK Taxpayer.

.

andy thompson
andy thompson
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

‘It has hung like a putrefying Albatross around our neck’ What a fabulous sentence to get a point over. Love it and can’t wait to use it somewhere myself sometime!

nick woods
nick woods
2 years ago
Reply to  Hywel Morgan

The roughly 85% of the tax base who are neither Scots,Irish or Welsh.Some areas of Surrey pay more to HMRC than the entire city of Glasgow,Elmbridge I think.
The Irish government grossly mishandled the post referendum period,dangling like Barnier`s puppets.
The rancorous spirit of DeValera lives on.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  nick woods

Well said, it’s good to hear the facts. England, to lapse into the vernacular, is being ‘ripped off, big time’.
If we had a Prime Minister with a bit of gumption we would have an all England referendum on whether we should keep paying for these greedy, self obsessed, ungrateful, parasites. We might have to redesign the Union Jack, but that is long overdue anyway (1949).
In my experience whilst the “spirit of DeValera lives on” in Government
and Establishment cabals, most noticeably and predictably in Education, the people in particular the ‘young’ couldn’t give a toss about all this saccharin, mythologised, nationalistic, suffocating, nonsense.
They just want to get on with their lives and enjoy the ‘craic’, whatever that is?

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
2 years ago
Reply to  nick woods

Old Dev, the only “leader” to send condolences to Germany when Adolf topped himself in the bunker?

Denis Slattery
Denis Slattery
2 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Windsor

Granted maybe not the smartest move by Dev
But at the outbreak of WW2 in 1939 it was less than 20 years since Britain had unleashed a reign of terror on Ireland, which included massacres of civilians , rape , looting and the the burning and destruction of Cities Towns and Villages across the country by British forces .Apart from an accidental air raid on Dublin the Germans never did us any harm
So it was difficult for the Irish to decide who were the “Good Guys” in WW2

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
2 years ago
Reply to  Denis Slattery

If your rebels insist on shooting british soldiers in the back when most of their comrades are being blown to bits in the trenches..don’t expect them to send The Mothers Union.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Dunn

You weren’t a TA Para by any chance? A less emotional response, based on some hard facts would help next time, do you not agree?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Denis Slattery

Actually it was a rather ‘civilised’ little war. There were the odd atrocities, by both sides, but nothing on the scale of Continental or Middle Eastern barbarism.
The Black and Tans and the far more more effective Auxiliaries were not the SS or even CRS.
By overstating your case you diminish your argument, which would be a pity, as you are obviously well versed in the facts.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

We?
Speak for your self..^if you must comment on something you can only parrot i.e Israel,at least learn how to spell ‘quite’

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Dunn

Well spotted, late onset dyslexia I’m afraid, plus my generation never learnt to type. We left that to the superior sex.
The ‘we’ means HMG, surely you know that?
When talking of British soldiers it is a capital B, I suppose you are one of woke freaks who just hates anything military or patriotic, correct?

,

johnboyle2503
johnboyle2503
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Mushroom

Without the Irish Republican Army and Sinn Féin, Ireland would never have achieved the 26 county Republic, nor an agreement for Britain to hand over the remaining 6 counties pending popular vote. War is war. The IRA are an army different from no other.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  johnboyle2503

Actually by comparative analysis the IRA/Sinn Fein were quite a decent enemy.
For example a considerable improvement on say the Stern Gang, Irgun Zvai Leumi, Lehi, or even EOKA.

andy thompson
andy thompson
2 years ago
Reply to  johnboyle2503

‘The IRA are an army different from no other’ Regular armies, or at least read ‘civilised armies’ don’t usually torture people or bury them in unmarked graves to get their points over. Or so I am led to believe.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  andy thompson

I am sorry to disabuse you but even
‘civilised armies’, do resort to torture when it is deemed necessary. Just look at the recent record. What was water boarding all about, asthma control?
As to to the grim business of body disposal, a freezer and a chainsaw is sometimes the only option, particularly if you are under resourced, to use a popular euphemism.
The IRA, murderous as they were, never resorted to hanging people from eucalyptus trees and booby trapping the bodies to frustrate recovery, All of this off course, in the balmy Levantine heat, the air filled with the buzzing of greedy, bloated flies, and the squawks of excited, feasting, corvids.
You could have an interesting time researching this subject, it is certainly the equal of say, BLM, and easily surpasses gender studies, for bedtime reading.

Terry Mushroom
Terry Mushroom
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

The end doesn’t justify the means.

Terry Mushroom
Terry Mushroom
2 years ago
Reply to  johnboyle2503

The ends don’t justify the means.

I saw for myself the IRA’s repulsive behaviour in England. All the victims were innocent. Some included expat Irish people and their children.

I’m neither Irish nor British born.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Their chance to assassinate someone else?

johnboyle2503
johnboyle2503
2 years ago

Because the British never assassinated anyone…..

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago

Who would you suggest?

Kate H. Armstrong
Kate H. Armstrong
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Are You within their current boundaries? Or would it require a ‘squad’ from the once infamous ‘sleeper’ numbers happily living and working in England?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago

Only on an occasional basis sadly.