We are lucky to have Varadkar as our Taoiseach at this time

Covid-19 pandemic demands leadership from our politicians, but not all are willing to step up to the plate

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Insider is concerned that some seem to take too much pleasure when viewing our Government, and public behaviour, in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, and comparing it to the UK.

This is a dreadful time in our country's history, and all we can hope is that this surreal period comes to an end as soon as possible. Many workers in our health services have been heroic in the performance of their duties, as have many thousands of Irish people who work on the frontline of the health sector in the UK and many other countries. We will also be forever indebted to those who keep all our essential services going at this time of greatest need.

Insider has also found the testimony of those who have lost loved ones in recent weeks particularly heartbreaking. Passing away, and being buried alone with no family around, goes against all that we hold dear. Though they cannot hold their loved ones in their arms as they leave this world, those grieving must know that we hold them in our hearts, and will always remember the added grief they have suffered.

A time for leadership

Thinking of leadership, and stepping up to the mark, Insider is surprised at how many of our political leaders are doing all in their power to avoid those responsibilities. Thankfully, we have Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and, I expect, Labour, to demonstrate that this is a time for leadership, not showmanship.

Compared to the usual bluff and bluster from some other world leaders, our Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has shown a consistent and professional approach in this time of crisis. Taking advice from the medical experts, we can be hopeful he has approached this catastrophe in the most sensible way possible to minimise loss of life. Fianna Fáil has also stepped up to the plate and, realising the seriousness of the issue, have refused to play politics in any sense. This bodes well for the incoming government, and its ability to make difficult decisions in a very uncertain future.

Insider is bitterly disappointed with the attitude of The Green Party and the Social Democrats since the election on Friday February 8. "The environment cannot wait," exclaimed Green Party candidates during the campaign. It seems now the environment can wait. The Social Democrats also seemed to have many answers to our country's problems during Election 2020. The party now seems determined to avoid any responsibility in the months ahead. Insider believes the electorate will exact a heavy price from both of these parties for running away when the country needed them. Insider suspect the electorate may advise them to keep on running - away, that is.

Local implications

As the outbreak of the Coronavirus has put a stop to normal political life, it is difficult to draw any definitive conclusions, at this stage, on its ultimate effect on the political landscape. From a local perspective, Insider was glad to see Sean Kyne and Ollie Crowe elected to the Seanad. Both will now be well placed to challenge for Dáil seats at the next election.

Insider wonders if long serving Galway West TD, Eamon Ó Cuív, will find it possible to support an alliance of FF plus FG plus others. Either way, Senator Crowe is now very much in poll position to make it to the next Dáil. Any increase in support for FG will also see Sen Kyne challenging to regain his seat. Insider also extends congratulations to Green Party senator Pauline O'Reilly [pictured above], and wishes her well. He would also encourage her to pressurise her colleagues to enter government. They can make a difference, and this is the only chance they will get, so why not take that chance?

Niall Ó Tuathail of the Social Democrats [pictured above with party leaders Roisín Shorthall and Catherine Murphy], was very unlucky to lose out narrowly in the Seanad election. Insider regretted this and believes Mr Ó Tuathail would have made a fine Senator. Insider hopes it is not too late for him to talk some sense into the Social Democrat Parliamentary Party members on the issue of government formation.

So there we have it. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail continuing to take their leadership role, which has in general served the country so well for almost a century. Labour find themselves in a quandary, but I believe they will ultimately do the right thing and come on board. An added local bonus would be if Labour joined the next government and found a place in the Seanad for city councillor Neil McNeilis, as one of the Taoiseach's nominees, though competition will be tough in this area.

Sinn Féin?

The Green Party and the Social Democrats prefer the easy indulgence of opposition politics to the hard work of government. As for Sinn Féin, the party will feel it is in a 'win-win' situation. Pretending it wants to be part of the next government, but secretly terrified at the prospect, it knows there is no chance this will happen.

SF would love to see Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil share power, and would then see themselves as well placed to lead the government after the next election. Insider has his doubts. A party that leader, Mary Lou MacDonald TD, says is run by her, but long term Finance Director, Des Mackin, says is run by party activists, and not by TDs, is all a little confusing for Insider.

If a party in government is not run by its elected members - and many in the party do not even have allegiance to, or recognise, this State - we truly will be in Banana Republic territory. We will have four or five years to think about this, and no amount of social media fake news and comments from paid party supporters will alter those facts. Insider thinks, in the last month, we have had all the change we want.


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