Welcome to 2020 and the certainty that the only thing we can be certain of is the path that uncertainty will take. Take Fine Gael’s biggest beast now transformed into the European Trade Commissioner, Big Phil Hogan. It is he that is going to be handling the trade negotiations with the UK. It is going to be a tricky business. How about fisheries for a start ? We and our fellow Europeans want access to British waters and they want to keep us out. Yet where can the Brits sell their fish if they are shut out of the European Market ? Then how about Macron trying to tie fish to British financial services. Sounds as slippery as a load of mackerel slewing around in a boat. Then I have first hand experience of Slippery Phil and I don’t doubt his ability to see a way through, even if he has to cast a few fish overboard. However, Big Phil is going to have to display great pragmatic skills when dealing with the extraordinarily complex matter of Europe’s future trading relationship with the UK. Sticking to our own interests for the moment, it is essential that our beef farmers retain access to British Markets and as to North-South trade and, indeed, the North’s trade with the Mainland, Slippery Phil will have to interpret Boris Johnson’s conflicting statements. It’s going to be interesting to watch with the only certainty being the direction of the uncertainty.
Now the next game in town is the forthcoming general election, which is going to be played under Murphy’s Law. In other words how the actions of Dara Murphy, Verona Murphy and Eoghan Murphy have pulled down the image of the Blue Shirts. Well to be honest, Eoghan Murphy, the Housing Minister, presents the biggest problem. Now I have a view here and it may be a bit simplistic but when I was growing up local authorities built houses on public land. Why in God’s name has this government failed to address this question ? The value of houses in Dublin are starting to fall and yet we still have over 10,000 people homeless. If that doesn’t say something is wrong, what does ? This, together with Health, is the government’s Achilles Heel.
I have been in and out of hospital quite a lot recently and you can sense a crisis is building. Already A & E units are overstretched and bed capacity is pushed to the limits. Soon they will be telling patients if you are sick to wash your teeth and pray. Recently I bumped into the Taoiseach and I told him he should be more “empathetic”. I said, however difficult, he should go into the hospitals and see what is happening. Since then, he has bared his chest, swum the 40 ft and gone on holiday.