Posted on 5th November 2022

I have noticed the number of people increasing who are expressing concern to me about the impending possibility of a Sinn Fein government following the next election. I think the implosion of Liz Truss’s government unnerved those of a shaky disposition as it showed how rapidly a nation’s finances can unravel when a Prime Minister, and in this case a Chancellor, pursue an ideologically-based agenda that flies in the face of the wisdom of the markets. If they can do it there what about an ideologically driven Sinn Fein taking a wrecking ball to our economy?

Distant view of Slane Castle

The sense that this could be a possibility was enhanced by the Sinn Fein Housing Spokesperson Eoin O’Broin’s statement in a tent at a musical festival in Roscommon that the Chief Economist in the Department of Finance should be sacked. The Taoiseach described O’Broin’s remarks as “ disruptive, risky, shifty” and Leo Varadkar sought to link those remarks with the short lived Kwasi Kwarteng sacking of the most senior official in the Treasury. O’Broin has since rowed back saying his comment was “ill judged” but he has held to the view that the advice of the Senior Economist should be ignored when it comes to housing. However, back to those nervous at the rise of Sinn Fein. At the end of the day it will come down to the numbers and who will have the ability to form the next government. As things stand at the moment it would take an unusual series of events for Sinn Fein to form a majority government. The last time that happened was with Jack Lynch leading Fianna Fail in 1977. Still, I’m around long enough to remember it and the enticements offered to the electorate. TK Whitaker, the distinguished economist, said that the Fianna Fail manifesto “ could not be described as an economic programme but rather as a national disaster”. So in the run-in to the next election, Sinn Fein’s economic and taxation policies should be very closely examined because as far as I’m concerned it is at present very much a case of “buyer beware”.
At the moment I suspect the numbers will tell a different tale. So this brings me first to the Taoiseach. On balance Micheal Martin has done a good job. He has acquired a certain dignity and gravitas in exercising his office. I’m not sure where he will end up when Leo takes over but I think if he wants it he should be allowed to replace Simon Coveney in the Department of Foreign Affairs. We need a fresh but competent face in that slot and frankly I think the Taoiseach deserves it. Where Simon Coveney should go I’m not sure. The bigger question for Micheal Martin is whether he should continue as leader of Fianna Fail or whether he should step aside and allow a new leader to emerge in time for the electoral battle ahead. However, right now the mechanics of a rotating Taoiseach make this a far from straight forward matter. Indeed as things stand it is far from clear who would be likely to succeed him. So to the numbers. At the moment there could be a coalition between Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein. Who would be the best to cope with that.

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