Leo v Simon, Theresa v Jeremy - it’s gloves off all round

Well, we have had a great week to 10 days of entertainment and discussion thanks to Fine Gael.

Firstly, as I alluded to last week, Enda, our Taoiseach, left in his own time and in his own words. I know that most people will be glad that it happened that way.

Then, we had the two macho men, Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney, giving us such entertainment as they each went about gathering their voters to their bosoms.

It appeared clear that Varadkar had quickly ensnared a huge amount of Fine Gael TDs and Senators. In an astonishing few hours he had the clear majority.

Simon followed on with his band, about half the numbers Leo had. So, it was very obvious who had done the forward plotting and planning. I always felt this was going to be the case, that underneath the surface Leo was paddling furiously while Simon was trying to work at the housing crisis.

Then came the hustings, and what fun they appear to have been. I really would have liked to have been a fly on the wall at those gatherings. Firstly, they were so enthusiastic. As each hustings happened and the excitement grew, the crowds at the following hustings grew and grew, culminating in more than 1,200 attending the event in Cork.

I was glad that Simon Coveney continued with the campaign even though he had a bit of a wobble on the afternoon when it became clear Leo had garnered the support of numerous TDs and Senators. But he stuck with it, apparently having received a telephone call from Michael Noonan encouraging him to do so.

To my mind, when Fine Gael decided to widen the franchise for leader they put the cart before the horse. The hustings should have been held first and they should have been followed later by the declared votes of the TDs and Senators. That would have been a fairer way to do it.

Be that as it may, we will see the outcome this coming Friday and then the various promises will have to come to fruition – or will they?

The answer to all that of course is that there will be a new Taoiseach quite shortly. However, another question is will there be a general election? Will whoever wins say, ‘I have got the mandate from my own party, but I must now get the mandate from my country?’ So, that will be intriguing and fascinating to watch throughout the next few weeks.

I am sure many of the readers watched, either on Sky Sports or TG4, Munster playing Scarlets last Saturday. It was hard to believe that the game was so awful and that Munster were so bad. They were wiped off the field and they could not seem to hold the ball.

They were particularly bad in defence, but they were bad all over. I really almost turned it off coming to the end, knowing the result. I cannot believe this was the Munster who contributed so many great players and performances to the international team all winter, and to see them reduced to puny individuals on the pitch. Anyway, I suppose that is the way with sport - you are up one day and down the next.

Westmeath had a good hurling match on Sunday but were just pipped, so the season of GAA has really started and I look forward to the Sunday games on TV as we move on through the summer.

Going back to elections, we have, of course, the UK elections on June 8. On Monday night, there was a terrific TV event on Channel 4 and I understand it was also on Sky. I find Channel 4 very good for news and particularly, on and off, for political news.

As we all know, Theresa May does not agree with a full debate with all the leaders on it, but she succumbed to an event on Monday night which really tore her apart. Firstly, there was Jeremy Corbyn, head of the Labour Party, and herself separately interviewed by a live audience with very interesting questions. Then, each of them individually were interviewed and pursued by Jeremy Paxman.

Of both of them, Jeremy Corbyn proved to be far more credible and far more attractive than he has been portrayed. He spoke well and answered well.

Then we come to Theresa May. To my mind, and it is my opinion, she was very bad, hopeless at answering, had stock answers to give which did not at all fill the questions Paxman was throwing at her. Her façade of total competence and confidence has slipped somewhat and she will have to do a lot more to make up that gap.

I remain intensely fascinated by politics and I sometimes wonder why other people are not. It is a great blood sport to watch and to absorb. I am already looking forward to Thursday night on BBC when there is another version of Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May on a panel, I understand, with an audience who will ask the questions.

While all this was going on, we had the good news that the National Maternity Hospital issue looks like having been resolved. It was a difficult decision for the nuns to make, but I expect they made it for the wider good of the mothers and children of Ireland who so desperately need this new hospital.

After all the heat and passion of the Fine Gael leader election process, it was so delightful to turn to rowing and to see the great success that the O’Donovan family, Denise Walsh and the town of Skibbereen produced when they had the marvellous medal haul from Racice in the Czech Republic.

And the midnight party when they got back to Skibbereen that night, it would really raise your heart - the utter joy there is in that community from their success in rowing circles.

Ireland’s Olympic future in rowing looks set with Denise Walsh, the young 24-year-old girl who has truly earned her spurs now.

Skibbereen en fête – what a wonderful community sight!

Talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go Fóill,

Mary O’Rourke


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