Corruption and privilege threaten to swamp Irelandís unstable government
21 August 2020
The latest round of instability in Irelandís new, and already crisis-ridden, government is likely to have Ireland's fiction writers tearing their hair out at their inability to outmatch reality.
So far we have seen the resignation of two ministers for agriculture, one after 17 days and the other after 37 days in the job. In between there has been open squabbling about the response to the coronavirus and last week there was uproar when racist gardai collaborated in an illegal eviction.
The story so far: After over a decade of austerity and unofficial unity governments, the traditional capitalist parties of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael saw their vote fall and were forced to join a formal national government with the support of the Greens.
In addition to oppressing workers, the main role of the parties, with largely identical policies, is to share out patronage.
With three parties in government, the gruel of patronage gets thin. The new Fianna Fail Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, gave the jobs to Dublin and the East and ignored the West. The soon to be incoming minister for agriculture explained the client system;
"At the end of the storm thereís a golden sky, and Iím going to make sure thereís a golden sky for the west," Dara Calleary said.
Immediately a coup was organised inside Fianna Fail to leak Garda drink driving files and force out agriculture minister Barry Cowen.
Now the new agriculture minister, Dara Calleary, has been caught red handed at a lavish golfing dinner where Covid rules about masks, numbers and social distancing were ignored, perfectly summing up the ruling class understanding that rules are for little people.
Following Callearyís resignation Jerry Buttimer has resigned as Leas Cathaoirleach of the Seanad. Numerous other figures were in attendance but have not yet resigned, including EU Commissioner Phil Hogan, Supreme Court judge and former Attorney General Seamus Woulfe, Circuit Court judge Pat McCartan, Independent TD Noel Grealish and senators Paul Daly, Aidan Davitt, Niall Blaney, Paddy Burke, and John Cummins.
The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has removed the party whip from Fine Gael Senators Jerry Buttimer, Paddy Burke and John Cummins.
The immediate outcome is chaos. Tensions between Fianna Fail factions will continue to rise in the search for a new minister. Many TDs are unhappy at Martin's attempts to bury the national question in "Shared Island" rhetoric and believe a better deal could be done with Sinn Fein. Fine Gael will be
trying to smooth over their own involvement and distance themselves from their partners. The Green party will come under fire for their loyal support for corruption.
And this is the honeymoon period of the new government!
The Covid-19 squabbles are a result of the tensions between profit and public health. The violence against tenants is a precursor of mass eviction. Brexit, enabled by Irish abandonment of the backstop agreement, is almost upon them.
The real story here may be the weak response from other parties. The Trade Union movement were silent. Sinn Fein called for the return of the Dail. The left called for the resignations of those involved, obviously an important demand. Only housing activists called for the fall of the government over its obvious corruption and incompetence.
For a number of years the focus of socialist groups has been on parliamentary action in the Dail. The parliamentary alternative focused on a "left" government based around Sinn Fein.
The next step is to accept that rearranging the deck chairs in the Dail is not a solution. The struggle to remove the parasites who run our country will take place on the streets.