You could call it the “sack race,” where relative — rarely complete — success is measured by how long the incumbent manages to avoid the inevitable fall.
The nature and timing of Alan Kelly’s forced exit was not very edifying. But take a quick look back through some of Ireland’s leaders’ uglier goodbyes and you’ll find he’s in good company.
There was Charlie Haughey from Fianna Fáil; John Bruton of Fine Gael; Eamon Gilmore of Labour; Albert Reynolds, Fianna Fáil again; and Michael Noonan again from Fine Gael. And that’s not the complete list.
The downfall of Charlie Haughey was the father of all struggles, lasting nearly a decade and prompting rivals to say publicly that he would need a stake through the heart, a la Dracula, to end his career.
He deflected four full-blown blows before finally losing to Albert Reynolds in February 1992. He ended up speaking of the “glory of my friends” — but he certainly kept his enemies closer.
John Bruton had astounded his internal Fine Gael enemies by defeating a high flyer in early 1994 and then, against all odds and under bizarre circumstances, became a Taoiseach late that year. The three-party coalition he led for two and a half years performed well and narrowly missed re-election in June 1997.
But by early 2001, his backbenchers were restless and weary with little hope of returning to power. So they summarily ousted him in favor of Michael Noonan, who himself led Fine Gael to its worst electoral defeat since the late 1940s. Mr Noonan himself did not have to wait for a boost and resigned when details of the electoral crisis began to pour in.
Eamon Gilmore’s descent from hero of all time to zero was arguably the fastest and steepest in Irish political history. In 2011 he led Labour’s largest ever team of TDs, 37 in all, after Leinster House, saw his candidate win the presidential election and then became one of the few government parties to win a by-election.
But in June 2014 Labor was hugely unpopular for pushing the austerity measures it had promised to avoid during the 2011 Dáil election campaign.
The party suffered a major setback in local and European elections and within 48 hours of the census centers closing Gilmore had left the Labor leadership.
His successor, Joan Burton, who is somewhat reminiscent of the Bruton Noonan Fine Gael story, did not thrive and did not revive the party’s fortunes either.
Albert Reynolds was one of the most likeable and dazzling politicians to ever grace public life. But he had a very argumentative side and also an inveterate Fianna Fáil political culture that made it difficult for him to form a coalition successfully.
Under his leadership, two seemingly tenable power-sharing agreements fell apart, first with the Progressive Democrats and later with Dick Springs Labor. There were immediate reasons for the failure of this coalition, including a bizarre episode about the extradition of a child-abusing minister.
However, many insiders blamed the difficulty of finding compromises on important issues. Mr Reynolds said that in life it’s often the little things that destroy a person.
Policy writers occasionally say that politics is “a cruel business.” Sometimes it is difficult to convey the true measure of this cruelty.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/those-top-political-goodbyes-are-very-rarely-pretty-just-like-alan-kellys-ousting-from-labour-41409518.html These high-level political farewells are very seldom pretty – just like Alan Kelly’s departure from Labour