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'You’ve made a complete and utter balls of it': 5 winners and 5 losers from the political week

You win some, you lose some…

Mary Lou McDonald in the sunshine outside Leinster House this week
Mary Lou McDonald in the sunshine outside Leinster House this week
Image: Sam Boal

EVERY WEEK, TheJournal.ie casts its eye over events inside and outside Leinster House that have got people talking.

As the saying goes: ‘You win some, you lose some.’

So here are our political winners and losers from the past seven days:

The 5 winners of the week are…

1. Alan Shatter

No one was using the word vindicated but it became clear from the contents of the Cooke report this week that the former justice minister had been somewhat exonerated by the findings of the review into the allegations that the Garda Ombudsman was bugged.

Fine Gael Think Ins Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Breaking his silence this week, Shatter said he had dealt with these matters “in a straightforward, truthful and comprehensive way” – the conclusions of the report would appear to back that claim.

2. Frances Fitzgerald 

Now over a month in the job, the Justice Minister is dealing with the considerable fallout from the controversies of her predecessor in a cool, calm and measured way that is in stark contrast to the brash, outspoken and truculent Shatter. A little humility at the top of the Department of Justice is what was needed post-Shatter and that’s what we’ve got so far.

3. Marc MacSharry

As hard as they tried the government was unable to remove the Fianna Fáil senator from the banking inquiry which means he becomes the second from his party to join the committee – a considerable boost for the main opposition party considering it was in government when the banking collapse happened.

4. Trevor Ó Clochartaigh 

You may not have heard of the Sinn Féin senator but a few weeks ago he kickstarted a chain of events which resulted in the chairman of the West/Northwest Hospital Group, Noel Daly, resigning this weekÓ Clochartaigh claimed a conflict of interest in Daly being in that role and founding a company which carried out a review of maternity services in the region. A clear conflict of interest exposed and resulting in the correct outcome.

5. Reform Alliance

Reform Alliance launch Fair Value Lending Proposals Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Is it a party? Is it not a party? Will they rejoin Fine Gael? Whatever about that debate, which will just run and run and run without anything happening, the alliance of former Fine Gael TDs and Senators continues to contribute some constructive proposals to Irish political debate. They had some good ideas about reforming the political system this week and it’s unfortunate that none of them are ever likely to be considered.

… and the 5 losers of the week are…

1. Enda Kenny

There were several losers on the government side in the banking inquiry debacle this week and the Taoiseach was definitely one of them. On Tuesday Kenny tried to claim that the government needed a majority on the committee in order to agree its terms of reference – a pretty weak point.

Source: Hugh O'Connell/YouTube

Then on Thursday, having been castigated by the Seanad, Kenny took the view that the ramming through of a government majority on the committee was reflective of the will of the people. We’re not so sure about that.

2. Labour

As its month of introspection continues the party suffered a dreadful result in the latest Red C opinion poll which puts it at just 4 per cent. Post election polls are usually anomalies, but this is another worrying poll for the junior coalition partner on top of the pretty bad election result last month. Leadership contenders Joan Burton or Alex White will have a lot of work to do when one of them takes office next month.

3. The Seanad 

There’s no doubt that the opposition in the Seanad has considerably more bite than that in the Dáil – thanks largely to the lack of a government majority in the upper house – but the hyperbole really does get out of hand some times.

We saw that clearly this week when the likes of Ned O’Sullivan referred to the whole banking inquiry affair as akin to Hitler and the Enabling Act. Just a tad over the top as Feargal Quinn (below left) seems to agree:

ned-8

4. The Department of Finance 

Officials remain confident that they can robustly defend Apple’s current tax arrangements in Ireland and are adamant that the State hasn’t broken any EU rules. But the European Commission investigation launched this week is an unwelcome headache at a time when the Department already has to deal with finding a new secretary general and preparing another difficult Budget this October.

5. Susan O’Keeffe

The Labour senator and former journalist generally keeps a low profile but was thrust into the spotlight this week in the wake of her missing a crucial vote that meant she wasn’t initially added to the banking inquiry committee.

That whole mess seriously undermined the government and the credibility of the investigation. As good an addition as she is to the inquiry team this hasn’t been the best way to start.

Like politics? Then ‘Like’ TheJournal.ie’s Politics page?

Read: Do the RA want back in Fine Gael?: ‘No’ … ‘I don’t know’ … ‘Google it’

Read: The ten commandments for a better civil service

Read: With all this politics what hope does the banking inquiry have of finding out anything?

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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