Monday, June 11, 2007


Experiencing what's going on between Fianna Fail and the Green is almost like intruding on somebody else's courtship. Yesterday morning I texted one Green Party insider to ask what was happening. The reply:

"No official contact yet just the fluttering of eyelashes across newsprint"

That brings us to Bertie Ahern's article in the Sunday Indo yesterday. (Incidentally, apropos nothing in particular, why do the amazing FF scoops the Sindo have got for the past three weeks remind you of the immortal phrase 'Payback Time'). If they could have got the end of the sentences to rhyme, it could have been one of the great love sonnets.

Gone was the man who told an Ogra Fianna Fail conference last February that he wouldn't cut, shovel or dig with those johnny-come-latelys.

Instead we had a sensitive troubadour who had the whole package instead of an acoustic guitar and a flower in his hair.

There was one sentence in particular that I thought that Bertie would never utter in a million years:

"I believe that an environmentally sustainable economy is the only way forward for Ireland and the planet."

There you go. And the rest of it was astounding. That Fianna Fail was genuinely open to new ideas, to the concerns of the other side, and that he saw a lot of merit (which makes a big change from the past five years) in some of their suggestions.

And then he came to the policy areas where the biggest gaps are: on transport; health an education. The policies of both parties were "not incompatible" with each other.

What a phrase! What a politician!

So what was the strategy? There has been a lot of speculation that Fianna Fail misinterpreted the Greens, that they took what was a fundamental problem for the Greens as a bit of tactical brinkmanship. That could be true. But while the Greens felt it was more or less over, the immediate reaction from FF was stunning.

From the Seamus Brennan interview on Friday night, it became clear that FF wanted to go back to see if they could get a second bit. Maybe part of their thinking was that it was pointless adhering to the Greens timetable of holding the meeting on Monday. By stopping on Friday there was no meeting. That particular monkey would be off the Greens back. Both sides could pause and reflect on the totality and reality of the situation.

It's 5.30pm on Monday now. Bertie Ahern is apparently in Government buildings. The Greens are involved in bilaterals on some of the issues, mainly non-contentious ones.
The contentious issues will probably be dealt with - we are told - by both leaders, if it comes to that. There has been some progress today but we are still in the dark as to whether the problems that were insurmountable have now become surmountable.

The Greens are also working against the clock. They need an agreement this evening or tonight if they are to convene the special meeting of their members on Wednesday. Much more will become known over the next hour or two.

1 comment:

Paul said...

"(Incidentally, apropos nothing in particular, why do the amazing FF scoops the Sindo have got for the past three weeks remind you of the immortal phrase 'Payback Time')."

Perhaps. But it may also have as much to do with the Sindo's massive readership and the fact that the average Sindo reader is the one who needs convincing about the prospects of the Greens in Government. (I don't need convincing myself, having placed a nominal sum at 10-1 on an FF-Green-PD coaliation!)