Irish politics is a bit like The Sopranos

Over the past fortnight, Irish politics has resembled the final episodes of that classic crime drama The Sopranos. As that series rumbled to a climax, all it took was one stray bullet to set into train a series of events that saw one character after another take a hit.

While the resignation of Trevor Sargent on Tuesday has so far been portrayed as an isolated incident, there are not many people who would bet that it is not connected to the incidents of the past few weeks.

The timing of the matter seems to be more than purely coincidental and just as in The Sopranos, one would be wise to believe that this will not be the last casualty.

The train that was set in motion by the resignation of George Lee sparked a political vacuum into life — a winter of floods, frost, discontent and NAMA-fuelled lethargy saw the body politic calling out for the remergence of personality politics.

While the departure of Deirdre de Burca may not have registered much on the political Richter Scale, it did show that ambition and hunger were not limited to the larger parties and that none of the party leaders could say with confidence that all was well on their patch.

The venom at the taking out of Willie O’Dea raised the stakes and angered Fianna Fail members to the extent that they embarrassed themselves in their defence of him. Loyalty is a noble virtue but dignity is worth so much more. When O’Dea was forced to leave, Fianna Fail became The Hurt Locker and it was only a matter of time before the collateral damage spread. It is a matter of conjecture that the Sargent affair is connected, but like a good Agatha Christie novel, there are plenty of suspects who may have “dunnit.”

However, what the events of the last month have shown is that it is always the unexpected things that create the lustre of politics. Human nature and its flaws are a Godsend to the media and political analysts and while pride, greed, lust and hunger are around, there will always be a capacity for a moral explosion.

Little did the two Brazilian prostitutes think when they set up business in a Limerick apartment that they would bring down a Government Minister. Nor did the Dublin assault victim on whose behalf Sargent canvassed ever conceive that his conviction could almost bring down the Government.

Trust is a scarce commodity in the Government at the moment. As long as the two parties refuse to confirm that they have utmost faith in one another, the future of this Government will be shaky. And with the Moriarty report due out in a few weeks, expect more rows, red faces and revelations in Leinster House.


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