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SOAPBOX: Most Broke Wind But Only Two Rebelled

by Jimmy Rhatigan

AT BEST it was a shallow exercise in democracy.

At its worst it was a somewhat tame attempted hanging of a Government Minister.

At times it was a display of pure hatred. 

What people were saying from both sides of the Dáil Chamber and indeed their body language told us, as if many of us didn’t know already, was that there are now two teams only in politics in the south of our country.

There are those who respect and or support Sinn Féin, a sprinkling of allies, and then there are those who cosy up to the rest.

This is not necessarily in what the latter utter publicly but when it comes to the nitty gritty of the ballot box, inside or outside of Dáil Éireann as real feelings are expressed.

The Vote of Confidence in Minister Simon Coveney following the Zapponegate debacle put Mr Coveney in the spotlight as some canonized him as a saint while others dubbed him a sinner.

An evening of waffle, rhetoric and ‘I am voting for my team and to hell with anyone else’, hardly persuaded too many aficionados of Coronation Street or East Enders to switch channels in favour of tuning into Oireachtas TV.


Either of the aforementioned soaps can be good, bad or ugly. 

Perhaps, without taking sides, it would be apt to apply the same description to the TV political debacle as a majority of TDs and Ministers in Leinster House patted their man on the back while others tried their utmost to kick his arse.

Simon Coveney was Lucifer or God Himself depending on who offered his or her tuppence worth, biased or otherwise.

Sinn Féin and its supporters and indeed thousands of others who may have a bee or even bees, in their bonnets about something or other that our much maligned Government did or didn’t do saw an opportunity to have a pop at sworn enemies. 

Objective may have been to cause mayhem by upsetting a prominent member of the Government Trinity of FF, FG and Greens.

And, in fairness, as many of the SF Army might point out, the latter was not without what they believed to be good reason.

To be brutally honest, the world and its mother knew full well that any vote of no confidence wasn’t going to get a majority.


Had the clash been an All-Ireland hurling final then Government would have been firm favourites to hoist the Sam McMire Cup as Opposition looked on with the forlorn-type of faces of Mayo footballers.

As the throw-in edged closer, the suggestion, or maybe the great hope, from some that FF TDs, some of whom had spoken out against Mr Coveney, would have been to pull the rug from under the feet of the beleaguered Minister for Foreign Affairs.

A warning shot was fired when Kilkenny’s own John McGuinness risked a six-months ban from the FF Parliamentary Party by going on a thrice postponed family holiday to France, thereby missing out on any mid-week vote.

McGuinness had shown that at least some FF TDs  or indeed TD, may have the courage of convictions as he again criticized his party leaders, hardly a ‘Mr Popular’ with so many FFers and accused him of plotting to amalgamate FF and FG, presumably to keep SF in the seats that don’t really count in the Dáil.

Had McGuinness been present at the vote he would surely have felt that his accusation was justified.  


His party colleagues, some of whom had spluttered, broke wind and belched out expletives in their condemnation of Micheál Martin and indeed of Mr Coveney, queued to support the latter and to obey Martin’s call for a thumbs up for the Fine Gael guru.

While McGuinness had fired a scud in the direction of his own party leader, the voice of Yeats County, Marc MacSharry then sent a rocket in Martin’s direction when he resigned from the FF Parliamentary Party and turned up to vote with Sinn Féin in the no confidence motion.

MacSharry had aimed a two-fingered salute in two directions.

Happily or sadly, depending on which side you were cheering for, the bravery of McGuinness and MacSharry failed to save fellow dissenters from a 92-59 defeat.

The Trinity crew had obviously listened to Varadkar’s plea to do a Dolly Parton and Stand By Your Man. 

The final score tells its own story.

Or does it?

One suspects that what started as a verbal punch-up on Wednesday evening could easily deteriorate into a full blown war that may lead to a General Election sooner rather than later.

Mary Lou and her troops will be miffed as will others on the so-called left who wanted Coveney’s head on a platter.


Varadkar, Ryan, Martin and their minions will be happy but perhaps wary as they will know that there is none more dangerous than a wounded animal.

That more FF moaners didn’t stick their heads above the parapet was hardly surprising.

Huffing and puffing is one thing, but blowing the house down is another matter.

The feeling could have been that the time was not right for a hands-on confrontation.

There is also the possibility that cold feet may have scared them from dipping their feet into hot water.

Anyway, Zapponegate shenanigans having moved on, for the time being at least, Government can now concentrate on real problems, housing, homelessness, huge hospital waiting lists, threats from vultures and banks, family poverty and lack of facilities and support for special children. 

You must be joking.

To a majority of politicians, it is now obvious that shadow boxing in a theatre of shame is far more important than tackling the real problems that are crippling our people.

God save Ireland.


*Loudest laugh of a rather dull evening when FG speaker Paschal Donohue described his party as one ‘that represents a person with a house to buy’.

Wonder why

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