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'Leo the lion': 5 winners and 5 losers from the political week

You win some, you lose some…

Leo Varadkar came in for lots of praise this week
Leo Varadkar came in for lots of praise this week
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

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. Leo Varadkar 

“Leo the lion,” proclaimed political commentator Noel Whelan at the MacGill Summer School this week as he heaped praise on the new Health Minister. The lion himself made an interesting and insightful speech on the state of Irish politics with the late poet Seamus Heaney featuring prominently.

Observers have suggested it was a leader’s speech with Varadkar positioning himself as the successor to Enda Kenny. But a lot of things have to happen before that situation arises.

2. Noirín O’Sullivan 

The acting garda commissioner staked her claim for being appointed to the position permanently with a speech to MacGill this week. O’Sullivan has been saying all the right things since she took over from the controversial Martin Callinan in March. While the government may seek an outside appointment for political reasons, O’Sullivan will certainly make it a difficult choice.

3. Mary Coughlan 

Here we have another Mary emerging from the shadows to cause problems for Micheál Martin with the former minister this week indicating she could be up for a return to politics. We’re sure Martin – though he’d deny it publicly – would prefer if Coughlan didn’t run at the next election but that’s not up to him and the ex-Donegal South West TD is of the view she’d be welcomed back into the fold.

4. Frank Flannery 

Feeling vindicated after escaping from the clutches of the Public Accounts Committee, the former Fine Gael strategist told it how it is at the MacGill Summer School this week, painting an accurate and worrying – for Fine Gael – picture of the political landscape.

Having masterminded the party’s 2011 general election success, Flannery’s description of the local election campaign as “one of the worst I ever saw” is a damning indictment of the party which has cast him out in the cold over lobbying controversies. But we’re sure their strategists are still listening. If they’re not, they should be.

5. Joan Burton 

It went largely unnoticed but the Tánaiste moved ever so slightly away from the official government line on the Gaza crisis this week by saying that “above all else” Israel needs to stand back from its actions. Collectively the government is very much maintaining a balanced view on the Middle East crisis with many in Labour criticising this approach. If the conflict goes on and becomes even bloodier Burton may become even more strident with her views.

… and the 5 losers of the week are…

1. Charlie Flanagan 

Inquiry into mother and baby homes Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

It’s not been a good week for the new foreign affairs minister who has been thrust into the spotlight as Ireland’s position on the Gaza crisis comes under severe criticism particularly in light of the UN vote on Wednesday. The fact that Flanagan has previously adopted a critical stance towards those who have slammed Israel for its actions in Gaza does not help his cause and the government is likely to continue to come under fire unless it changes its position.

2. Enda Kenny 

The Taoiseach’s insistence that there is no property bubble is not borne out by the fact that house prices are rising rapidly in Dublin. Yes, it is a supply issue but until we start building more houses prices will continue to rise and that’s all the evidence one needs of a bubble getting bigger and bigger.

Also this week Kenny was told by a key ally of Angela Merkel that a deal on legacy bank debt is not going to be possible. The Irish government maintains a different position to that of Dr Joachim Pfeiffer but he was unequivocal making the task of securing a bank debt deal all that harder.

3. Mick Wallace and Clare Daly 

The two independent TDs were arrested at Shannon Airport on Monday in what was one of the most blatant publicity stunts we’ve seen for some time…

22july14-photo-1-cd-mw-put-on-high-visibilitty-safety-jackets-before-heading-to-search-warplanes Source: Edward Hogan/Shannonwatch

4. Frances Fitzgerald 

Fitzgerald has enjoyed a relatively trouble-free time as justice minister since she was appointed in May, but a UN report’s scathing criticism of Ireland’s position on abortion and symphysiotomy have made it a difficult week for Fitzgerald. The minister has effectively admitted that not much can be done given the “legal and constitution position”.

5. Michael Noonan 

The finance minister got a warning from several quarters at MacGill this week with the government’s spending watchdog, the Fiscal Advisory Council, repeating its call for a full €2 billion adjustment while former Central Banker Fiona Muldoon also warned “the hard slog is not over”.

Noonan’s former secretary general John Moran also outlined the many risks Ireland still faces economically. These telling words go against Noonan’s position that the budget will not have to be as harsh as first feared.

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

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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