Posted on 14th September 2019

Slane Castle

Ice has been on my mind this week ever since I saw dramatic footage on Channel 4 News of it falling off the coast of Greenland into the ocean. It is plunging into the sea at such a rate and in such volume that it makes the mind boggle. Yes, the country that Donald Trump wanted to buy is a dramatic and horrifying illustration of why climate change poses such a real and present danger to the entire planet. I cannot get those images out of my mind.

Then Boris Johnston has been thinking about ice, or cutting through it. “The mood is changing, the ice floes are cracking, there is movement under the keel”. The British P.M. does love his imagery. Well, is there any substance to it ? I listened to Simon Coveney on Thursday talking from the Fine Gael Love-In from Cork, and whilst he said there were still significant gaps between the two sides he did say that Leo’s meeting with Boris had been “helpful”. Whilst he said the “onus was on the British Government” , they will “do everything they can”. Still he emphasised it was difficult not to be “sceptical” and it amounted to “trying to find a way through the fog”. I think fog is more accurate than Boris’s “ice floes cracking” and it is well to remember it is easy to crash in the fog.

However, for the first time in a while I think there is a possibility of a deal. It is going to be complicated and likely involves a degree of risk. This week Boris hosted a lot of Northern business people in No. 10. No doubt they impressed upon him the dire economic consequences of a crash out. However, we must take into consideration the concerns of those in the North who support the D.U.P. and are rattled by what they consider a threat to their position within the United Kingdom. Let me put it another way. If this country is ever to be united, we would have to find a way to harmoniously absorb them into our system.

I was in the U.K. last week and what I encountered was Brexit fatigue. People are getting sick to death of it and just want it over. This sentiment is reflected in the latest ComRes poll which shows that 48% don’t care how the U.K. leaves. The problem, as we all know, is that we care very much. From Brexit directly to Fine Gael. The electoral drums are starting to beat and if the Minister for Finance thinks he can hide his misdeeds behind the Brexit curtain he has another think coming. The electorate are not going to forget the cost over-runs of the National Children’s Hospital and the National Broadband. It “goes well beyond the limits of prudence” said the Fiscal Advisory Council. Paschal Donohoe will be praying for a November windfall from Corporation Tax to keep things on an even keel. This is no way to run an economy and frankly is astounding from a party that used to value its reputation for prudence.

Leo and his pals have now been in government for nine years. They will have to stand on their record and in that respect the wheels have come off the Fine Gael wagon. Martin has played the long game. Looks like it might pay off.

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