Ireland: a litany of scandal

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The Fine Gael minority government, propped up by its ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with supposed opponents Fianna Fáil, threatens to survive the litany of scandal that has dogged it for over a year: illegal phone tapping; ‘misappropriation’ of EU funds; and two million – yes, two million – faked breathalyser tests, resulting in thousands of wrongful convictions for motoring offences. Yet they emerge into the New Year not entirely unscathed. New revelations in the years-old saga of corruption, cover-up and whistle-blower persecution in An Garda Siochana (the Free State police) eventually claimed the heads of a garda commissioner – Nóirín O’Sullivan – and a tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) – Frances Fitzgerald.

The motions of no confidence in Fitzgerald, tabled by Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil before Christmas, brought the political establishment to the brink of a snap poll. In the end the awfully noble Fitzgerald resolved to ‘put national interest ahead of personal reputation’ and resign – thereby sparing her government an election that none of the parties were ready for.

They are getting ready now. In the Sinn Féin camp Gerry Adams will step down as party leader at their extraordinary Ard Fheis (conference) on 10 February. His replacement is Mary Lou MacDonald, who made the career swap from Fianna Fáil to Sinn Féin in the late 1990s. The change in figurehead is intended to smooth the party’s path into Merrion Street (the seat of the 26 County government) as a junior partner in a coalition government. No party can hope to win a majority. For Sinn Féin’s would-be partners-in-government, the party was untouchable with the former revolutionary at its head. MacDonald – whose ‘past’ amounts to a private education and a degree in Human Re­source Management – comes baggage-free. She’s someone they can do business with.       

Patrick Casey

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 262 February/March 2018

Ireland: the key to the British revolution by David Reed