21 October 2009

The Publican Party

So there is much talk this morning about a credible threat to the stability of the government. Numerous back-benchers are openly talking about defying the government whip and threatening to vote against party lines, even if it triggers an election. At a meeting last night described by one TD in the Irish Independent as "on fire...the worst I have ever attended" up to 25 TDs threatened to rebel and pull the plug on the current administration.

And the cause of this widespread revolt? NAMA? Education cuts? Social Welfare and Health cuts? Scandals in TDs expenses? Standards in public office? Corporate Donations? Dail and Seanad reform? State-supported institutional abuse in clerical run schools? The Criminal Justice Bill? Civil Partnerships? The Blasphemy Bill? Lisbon II? The Budget? Pictures of Biffo in the nip on a toilet in the National Gallery?


Drink-driving limits.

That's right, 25 TDs are threatening to bring down the government over plans by Transport Minister Noel Dempsy to reduce the permissible blood-alcohol level from 80mg to 50mg, saying that it will destroy the fabric of rural life if folks can't drive home from the pub after a few pints.

Seriously? After everything the country has been through, after everything that this Government has put the country through in the last eighteen months, this is what they choose to take a stand on? The inalienable right of every Irish man and woman to operate a moving vehicle while intoxicated?

It was obvious how big an influence the Irish Vintners Association had on Fianna Fail when the government forced off-licenses to close at 10:00pm to drive people into pubs at night and prevent folks drinking for significantly less money at home. Though the move was pitched as curbing alcoholism, it curiously didn't stop off-licenses or pubs from opening at 10:30am, so the government message here is clearly that drinking at home at 11pm is bad, but at 11am is perfectly fine?

That legislation to save lives could be the instrument of governmental collapse is farcical and shamefull. If Enda Kenny is talking about reducing the number of TDs by twenty, I can offer him a list of twenty-five to choose from right now.

Of course the real losers here would be the Green Party, who bet the whole farm a fortnight ago on getting another eighteen months to prove to the electorate that they were right to enter into Government in the first place. A drink-fueled back-bench revolt from their FF partners are the last thing they need; a snap election in the aftermath of their ringing endorsement of NAMA would (if possible) be even more catastrophic than if they had taken the high moral ground over NAMA and walked away from Government.

Eamon Gilmore, Enda Kenny and, to his credit, John Gormley have all been pretty vocal of late about the urgent need for electoral reform. Nonsense like this current back-bencher spat is an embarrassment to the entire nation. Reform can't happen fast enough.



At 3:22 pm, Blogger Niall Murphy said...

Well, at least we know who's wearing the trousers, even if they've got sick all over them...


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