Posted on 13th May 2017

Slane Castle

It was interesting this week to watch an unelected bureaucrat address the joint houses of the Oireachtas.  Mr. Barnier, the E.U.’s chief Brexit negotiator made all the right noises about how Ireland’s special position should be taken into account, but it took Richard Boyd Barrett to remind us how another unelected E.U. official in the form of Jean Claude Juncker had screwed us during the banking crisis.

Our political class need constant reminding that not everything about the E.U. is benign.  Much of the elation about the election of Emmanuel Macron in France ignores the fact that his policies on Europe present very real dangers to Irish interests.

This brings me directly back to what I was saying last week.  We need to be at the top of our game.  Well, in this respect next week will tell a tale.  Endless Enda may finally tell us when he is stepping down and the Blue Shirts will then set about choosing a new leader.  Thank God in the meantime that I will have Guns N’Roses to distract me.

It is a shame, as I’ve said previously, that Pascal Donohoe has decided not to run.  I bump into increasing numbers of people who are of the same opinion.  To be frank, I understand his reasons, particularly his young family   He is well respected in the parliamentary party and has proved an able Minister.  I hope the new Taoiseach appoints him Minister for Finance.

Coveney and Varadkar are both cranking up their campaigns.  I said last week that I thought Coveney was catching up and in the meantime I’ve been making some enquiries in the Blue Shirt ranks.  Damien English, a Meath T.D., is Coveney’s campaign Manager.  The guy’s quite an operator and I’ve had a chance to observe him over the years.  Patrick Coveney, Simon’s brother, is a heavyweight and C.E.O. of Greencore.  He is, I’m sure, giving good strategic advice and his perspective could be very constructive over the Brexit negotiations.  This all has the ring of good solid stuff and could play well to the Fine Gael base.

Leo Varadkar is undoubtedly seen as the flashier option.  Dublin centric  but perceived to be more than a little impetuous.  He is undoubtedly more charismatic in comparison to Coveney’s Steady Eddie image.  In its most stark form, politics is a numbers game and the T.D.’s in particular will be weighing which prospective leader is most likely to get them elected at the next general election.  However, they know that the general public will want to see somebody holding the office of Taoiseach who can best front the Brexit negotiations.  As far as I’m concerned, that will be the key issue.

Then there may well be an election,  in which case Micheal Martin may be Taoiseach and Pascal Donohoe’s day may come.

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