Posted on 5th August 2017

Slane Castle

As they say, August is a wicked month, and weird things may happen, so it may surprise regular readers of this column to hear me say that in some respects I miss Enda Kenny.  Let me explain.  Our former Taoiseach, together I suspect with the assistance of Michael Noonan, went to great lengths to get Ireland’s special interests recognised from the beginning in what are turning out to be the torturous negotiations between the UK and the EU over Brexit.  In my view we need to recognise two intertwined and difficult facts.  Brexit is likely to happen and yet in so  many ways our economic and wider interests are deeply interwoven with those of the UK.  To put it bluntly, we are between a rock and a hard place.  The complexities of all of this has to handled with great delicacy.  In this respect I don’t think that it is helpful for our shiny new Taoiseach to indulge in megaphone diplomacy particularly in relation to the border.  If it is true that our government has ceased examining electronic monitoring I would regard this as unwise.  We need to be prepared for all possibilities.  As a nation it is totally understandable that we should feel exasperated by the British deciding to leave the EU.  but we also need to recognise that they reached that decision via a referendum.  Whilst our government have to protect our interests they also have to avoid alienating the British.  In truth I do not envy the Taoiseach having to deal with this but perhaps he should have some regard to his predecessors.

This lesson should also apply to the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe.  As any Blue Shirt of long standing will know, the true definition of a Fine Gael Finance Minister shooting himself in his well-heeled foot was John Bruton’s introduction of VAT on children’s shoes.  The idea that the Minister is even considering introducing Capital Gains Tax on the sale of the family home should be regarded by any self-respecting member of Fine Gael as absolutely toxic.  Last week, I drew attention to a former Finance Minister’s nickname as Richie Ruin.  Well, Paschal should avoid the moniker of being known as “ the home wrecker”.

It is some time since I have written about Donald Trump,  Well now I have seen the odds are shortening on his impeachment.  Frankly his presence in the White House has become dangerous.  A wounded bull is a deadly creature and there is a real possibility that he might use foreign policy as a distraction to escape from the Russian crisis that threatens to impale him and a health care policy that is on the point of collapse.  At this stage I just pray there are enough good republicans to pull the plug.  Prepare for President Pence.

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