Trials of Government formation as bright Spring evenings begin to emanate

Well, as I am writing this, the election logjam trundles on. As we all know, the Dáil will meet on Thursday of this week, and their first task will be the election of a Ceann Comhairle. After that then, the games will begin. It is envisaged that each of the party leaders will be proposed and seconded to be Taoiseach, and each one will fail the numbers game.

Then, there will be a few pious speeches about the need to make decisions, etc, etc, and the Dáil will fix a date for the next sitting. It is hoped that before that next sitting, there will be some progress made in the talks. In the interim, the present Government continues in office, you might say in a sort of a paralysed state. They will be dealing with day-to-day matters, but all major decisions, particularly around funding etc, will not be prioritised. So, we are living through a sort of a limbo.

I remember back in the summer of ’89 when the same thing happened. After a general election there was a stalemate. The Dáil met on three separate occasions, and each time it was fruitless and there was a further date set. As we know, the result of all of that was that the Progressive Democrats joined with Fianna Fáil to form a Government.

Now there’s a whole other tale connected with that, but this column would not give me the room to tell it all. Be that as it may, we formed a Government and operated reasonably satisfactorily.

Prior to that, after the general election of 1987, Fianna Fáil under Charlie Haughey were in Government, but it was a precarious Government number-wise. However, Alan Dukes, as the then leader of Fine Gael, provided the Tallaght Strategy, which was in fact the forerunner of Confidence and Supply, but it all operated very satisfactorily.

Have any of you been following TV lately? In between the frenzied political activity and its aftermath, I have picked up on a few terrific RTÉ programmes.

One of them is on a Friday night on RTÉ One at 8.30pm. Mary McAleese (the former president ) undertakes a turas or a holy walk with an interesting person as a companion, and they discuss life as they walk along together. It is quite an amazing programme – easy on the ear and easy on the eye, and so many interesting things come to light. There are to be six walks in all, and I think next Friday will be either the third or fourth, but do watch the programme if you get a chance. It is really good.

Another one which caught my ear and eye is the history programme about women, Herstory. It is about Ireland’s epic women. So far, that has proven highly interesting and enjoyable. Last Monday night, we had a documentary on Dr. James Barry who was born Margaret Anne Bulkley in Cork in the late 18th century, and lived her whole adult life as a man in order to enable her to embark on the medical career that made her name. She/he became a marvellous, innovative doctor, and as the story unfolded it was totally fascinating.

I can highly recommend those two programmes, and they certainly are a change from stalemate politics.

Spring has sprung – or has it? As I write, we are in the midst of Storm Dennis, which followed on very quickly from Storm Ciara, and God knows what other storms are to come. But to my mind, yes, spring has sprung. It is now well past 6pm in the evening before you have to pull the curtains or it even gets dark. In a similar fashion in the morning, it is now quite bright at 7am. Oh, I love to see those early signs that we are in spring and moving towards summer. Never mind the cold and wet and rain; they will pass away.

I read that the young Beibhinn Parsons, the 18-year-old from Ballinasloe, will not be playing in the next two women’s international rugby matches. It seems she has been told to cut back on her rugby and to concentrate on her work for her upcoming Leaving Certificate exams.

So we will not have, in the near future, a re-run of that amazing sprint down the length of the field, which ended in a score for Ireland. Well done on your rugby career so far, Beibhinn, and good luck in your Leaving Certificate.

Next Sunday will see the Irish rugby team travel to Twickenham to play their old enemy – England. I was so looking forward to seeing that match. However, before Christmas I had accepted an invitation from a committee in County Clare who are having a commemorative Mass for Martin Devitt, who was Vice Commandant of the Mid Clare Brigade of the IRA during the War of Independence. It is a centenary commemoration for him, because he was killed on February 23 in the year 1920.

Because my father was a Clare man, the commemorative committee thought it appropriate to ask me. I accepted, and that is where I am off to next Sunday to attend the Mass, the laying of a wreath, and then a seminar, and I am glad to be doing so.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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