To be honest , I feel somewhat overwhelmed this week. Part of it is personal. The wind-up to Guns n’Roses has begun. We had the first tasting of our new Slane Whiskey in Boyle’s Pub in Slane on Wednesday. A bit of an occasion, and the realisation of a dream, and then there is what I will loosely call the tide of events. The bus strike, the ongoing controversy over the Garda Commissioner, Brexit and endless Enda. At this stage he’ll still be around when the West goes to sleep.
Let me start with the question of the Garda Commissioner. Now we hear a lot of talk about how the culture in the Guards has to change. “This” has to be investigated, followed by “that” and more “this” again. Drip, drip, drip of uncomfortable facts moving into the public domain and the unsettling feeling that there is a lack of accountability. You can see the government’s problem. Enda has already lost one Garda Commissioner and to lose another would further damage his reputation. To be frank, I really don’t know where blame lies but I do know about public perception. Fine Gael are supposed to be the law and order party. When I was a member, the party prided themselves on doing the right thing. Above all, they understood that public confidence in our guards was an essential component in a stable society. I cannot imagine what a former Fine Gael Minister for Justice like Paddy Cooney would think of the current state of affairs. I don ‘t particularly like calling for her head but to be honest her credibility is shot. To quote one of the people I talked to during the week – “ she should know what’s going on”. She quite clearly doesn’t. Mind you, Enda doesn’t either.
As to Brexit, this is on a whole different level. Where do you begin ? The fundamental problem we face is that Ireland is one of 27 and yet our relationship with the UK is absolutely unique. Technically speaking, we do not have the ability to negotiate bilaterally with our most import trading partner and a country with which we have a myriad of ties. I think it would also be fair to say that most particularly for border counties and those trading extensively with Northern Ireland there is a deep sense of anxiety. Under no circumstances does anybody want to see a return to the bad old days.
This brings me back yet again to the issue of Enda. I was asked about it on LM/FM on Thursday. Frankly, I’m sick of it. Fine Gael need to bite the bullet and elect a new leader. What people hate in these circumstances is uncertainty. We need a government and a civil service at the top of their game. If we need a general election to get it, so be it. We also need some vision, but that’s for another day.