On Thursday, only a handful of Government TDs turned up for the morning session (sorry, debacle) Dáil session, all of whom were from Fianna Fáil. None of the Green Party TDs were present. And somewhat unsuprisingly, our prime minister, An Taoiseach Brian Cowen, was also not present.
Imagine what this must look like to outside observers (we’re being watched by the media in Europe and further afield, as well as the IMF and potential investors). Just when there needs to be just a few hours of unity, there was none. Opposition party members demanded that the session be adjourned until the Taoiseach was present to make a statement regarding the resignation of government ministers.
Oh yes. That.
Overnight, the Government lost a quarter of its ministers. Considering that the Government was now practically incapacitated, you’d have thought that Cowen and his buddies would have treated the issue with a bit more urgency. But no; as I said, the Chamber was as good as empty.
So Cowen arrived in after lunch (before which everyone was sent home by the Ceann Comhairle for being rowdy). He finally set the date for the general election as March 11th – the minimum required by law would have been February 11th, but who knows what’s going in his head. He also had to deal with the sudden surge in vacancies, and put some TDs into the empty places.
How can members of Government be expected to do two jobs, when they can’t even do one?
To the outside world – that’s the world outside Leinster House – all that can be seen is a farcical, incompetent, and incapable pack of morons trying to … Hmm, what are they trying to do? I don’t think anyone’s really sure. Mary Hanafin TD spent the last few days claiming that she had no confidence in Brian Cowen, yet when it came to the vote of confidence, she voted in favour of him. The mind boggles.
If you were a businessperson looking for new investment opportunities, would you come to Ireland? Probably not. While us in Ireland are exposed to this nonsense every day, you can be sure only the juicy details make their way to Europe and beyond: an image of a split Government, dithering idiots, and fat middle-aged men with too much of an ego to realise that they have destroyed the country and that its citizens are on the verge of taking to the streets.
Pro-tip: don’t invest in Ireland anytime soon; you’re likely to get your shop window smashed by a brick from an anti-government rioter.
So why are they holding on? Is it the Finance Bill? Is it stupidly large pensions? Is it pure arrogance? Is it private investments and vested interests in FF-related business?
There is so much going on here now I can barely find any clarity in the mess. This Government is dead, and they left a destroyed country in their wake.