There is a certain quiet at Leinster House after lunch on most Wednesdays. With only a few hours left in the usual Dáil working week, it is certain that the government has successfully weathered another week in office.
Sometimes that’s enough in hard times – because it corresponds to the first rule of political power, which is: hang in there – because without it you are nothing.
Mary Harney put it succinctly differently in her role as Tánaiste in 2010, when she texted coalition partner and Green Party leader John Gormley with the reassuring admonition: “Your worst day in government is better than your best day in the opposition.”
When the Dáil meets and the government is at the center of a debacle – like the current dispute over Dr Tony Holohan‘s botched job change – staying the course is a big challenge. The parliamentary chamber becomes a cauldron and the kingpins of the opposition warm to their task of making the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and all their ministers squirm to the max.
But when the Dáil is on pause – as it is currently – the resulting tension will be at least halved. So the Easter holidays are a lucky coincidence for Michael Martin, Leo Varadkar and Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly. Everyone’s still under pressure, and they know it will return in the coming weeks as the Oireachtas Treasury Committee TDs and Senators get a handle on their forensic interrogations.
But who knows what next week will bring? Increasing consequences of the war in Ukraine? More brutal street crimes? Major developments in the war against global gangsters? Another unforeseen news bomb?
Any or all of the above could help our embattled political leaders where Dr. holohan series to slide out of harm’s way. So for now it’s enough to just keep shuffling.
It is an odd coincidence that our nearest neighbor’s leader, a certain Boris Johnson, is at full service on the mainland with his oxen over Partygate. But he is also the beneficiary of a parliamentary leave.
Mr Johnson’s opponents, notably Labor’s Keir Starmer and the SNP’s kingpins, are doing their best. But they cannot vent their outrage in the Westminster cauldron.
Sporadic efforts continue to resolve issues surrounding Dr. Reducing Holohan’s job change to an “occupation of the chattering classes,” with depressingly familiar cries of media frenzy. But it’s none of those things.
The issues raised here go to the heart of government, democracy and citizens’ rights to services for the taxes they pay. The healthcare system provides good care to many thousands of people every day, but it also has major shortcomings – not the least of which is its two-tier nature, which often puts the ability to pay for health insurance ahead of the needs of patients. We have been promised reforms to address these shortcomings.
Again, this controversy points to a failure in the need for clear and unambiguous communication within public services and to the public at large. In modern democracy, clear internal and external communication is vital to public approval and any hopes of improving the quality of life.
dr Holohan’s proposed move from the post of Chief Medical Officer to a research post in Trinity College Dublin’s Department of Public Health has been billed as a “staff matter” of detailed administration which should not have worried Cabinet ministers.
But the Taoiseach has specifically challenged that view, arguing that spending $200,000 in taxpayers’ money on Dr. Holohan’s salary is a government matter, while the Tánaiste has clearly stated that the matter should have gone to the cabinet.
Without a trace of irony, the key official involved – Robert Watt, the Secretary General of the Department of Health – was asked to write a report. Nobody seems to mind that they seem to be asked to review their own behavior.
We have to wait a fortnight for the Oireachtas Treasury Committee to begin its investigation. By then, it could be ancient history.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/dail-shutdown-suits-management-of-dr-holohan-job-change-botch-by-government-and-officials-41551904.html The Dáil shutdown fits in with the management of Dr. Holohan’s job change botch by government and officials