Ireland: Zombie Government Or Grand Coalition?

Under any normal circumstances Ireland’s previous Fine Gael & Labour government should have been waltzing into the Dáil holding hands after 2016’s general election. Ireland has the fastest growing economy in Europe. It grew by 7.8% last year and is growing at its fastest pace since 2000. It is a broad-based recovery and surely it should be receiving broad-based support?


The Irish electorate dealt a body blow to Ireland’s political establishment of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour. The ‘Punch & Judy Show’ of alternating Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments may well be coming to an end. With Fine Gael being reduced to 50 seats and Fianna Fáil enduring their second-worst electoral outing in their history, they may well be forced to coalesce to form a stable government. A FG/FF coalition is the only logical outcome of this election.

Unless you are the Fianna Fáil leader of course…

The opening of the 32nd Dáil was an ominous spectacle. Twenty speeches were heard before votes were cast as to who should lead the country. Most were derisory, irrelevant and ran like the election campaign whilst those of Pearse Doherty, spoke of the immediate need to form functioning working committees. John Halligan spoke on the need of all deputies to ensure a stable government was formed as soon as possible. (Hinting of a grand FG/FF coalition).

There is no such urgency from the Fianna Fáil benches…

For many in their party being a minority player in coalition is unpalatable, even though the differences between both parties remains small and the opportunities to fulfil manifesto pledges are there in government they seem destined to remain in opposition. They want to remain in opposition. Sinn Féin want to remain in opposition. Labour want to remain in opposition.

Have you ever seen a country, with so many pressing domestic issues having only one major political party wanting to form a government? Fianna Fáil are doing what they have always done. Put party before country. Enda Kenny, now Ireland’s care-taker Taoiseach, leads a zombie government including members of the Labour Party (and TD’s who lost their seats) until a coalition government or minority government is formed.

It appears as though a Fine Gael minority government maybe the Fianna Fáil end-game. Allow them to pass one budget and bring them down on something innocuous. Playing for time before calling another election. They may even be completely intransigent and flat out refuse to cooperate and call for another election. There are many in this country who do not have time for that.

What of the overcrowding in our hospitals, classrooms and temporary accommodation? The chronic housing shortage and homelessness crisis? The future of Irish Water? Such issues need addressing immediately. Ireland’s political establishment seems to think it has plenty of time. By comparison, it took the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats six days to form a coalition government in the UK and they had some fundamental differences. Here in Ireland it may well take six weeks.

Ireland’s economy and public services cannot wait that long.

Bring on the ‘Grand Coalition’…

ireland grand coalition


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