In “Dads Army” you always knew when chaos was about to occur. Private Jones would pop up to calm everyone down by shouting “Don’t
Panic”. The recent tribunal findings in relation to Michael Lowry and Dublin County Council seem to have touched a nerve in Fine Gael. It’s been common political knowledge for many years that Fianna Fail couldn’t have got trashed County Dublin without some acquiescence on Fine Gael’s part.
To be fair there were some Fine Gael councillors who were as opposed to what went as there were Labour. I know how Fine Gael people think as I’m off that political extraction and this issue in north Dublin 30 years ago effectively made my mind up for me as to which political path Iwould take in life. There are a lot of genuine people in Fine Gael who must be scratching their heads and asking themselves was it this they signed up for? Fine Gael people who opposed Michael Lowry in
Tipperary when political opportunism would have made it easy to jump ship along with someone who was owned lock stock and barrel by Ben Dunne and Denis O’Brien in turn.
So It’s these people I really feel sorry for when I hear Enda Kenny tell us to calm down. A party’s
reputation is its real value. If they had calmed down 15 yearsa go there wouold be no fine Gael in that party of the country now. The lesson is there from Fianna Fail as to how to trash a dominant political brand, Haughey, Reynolds, Ahern and Cowen each succesively drove Fianna Fail political support downward over a generation as the population had enough of their vacuous and treacherous nonsense.
Enda Kenny is seen as being an honourable and decent man. That’s why recent gaffes such as at Davros and today’s suggestion that we all calm down damage his credibility. It’s the perception that he may
not grasp the real underlying culture of failure of corporate governance and ethics in Irish business.
Or if he does then these values are not believed by some of his senior colleagues.
In the round it may not have a significant impact on the day to day finances and the need to return this state to financial stability. But was it not the same culture of business, media and politics where lines were
blurred that got us into this mess decades ago?
Lets be blunt about this. Meeting Michael Lowry and spending the day with Denis O’Brien at Wall St is not an issue that will collapse the government overnight when the reality of meeting Troika deadlines underpins every last thing that can be funded in this state but it will tarnish relations as Lowry’s indulgence by his former party may well impact on perceptions of how Fine Gael operate relations at cabinet. The illjudged comparison between government’s survival and a paranoid vigilante played by Charles Bronson made by a senior Fine Gael backbencher is crass and should be withdrawn. It’s not clever politics to tweet about death wishes a week before a Labour Conference. But remember “Don’t Panic!”