Ireland’s political crisis looks to have been averted as Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald has resigned. With the snap general election averted Professor of Politics Gary Murphy from Dublin City University spoke to Sputnik about what it could mean for the Irish government next year and who are the contenders to replace Fitzgerald.
The pressure had mounted on Frances Fitzgerald of Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party on Monday following the release of fresh documents about her disputed handling of a police whistle-blower who alleged corruption in the force.
Sputnik: Where will Frances Fitzgerald’s resignation leave the Irish government? Could we still get a snap election?
Gary Murphy: No I think the snap election is off the cards. Her resignation satisfies Fianna Fail, the main opposition party who are holding up the confidence and supply agreement. So they have just confirmed that they won’t be going ahead with their motion of no confidence simply because she has resigned and the confidence and supply agreement remains in place.
Sputnik: Who are the likely replacements for Fitzgerald?
Gary Murphy: I don’t think it has worked very well over the course of the twenty-one months or so it’s been in place for three budgets and have past two, but both of them have been very hard to negotiate. Fianna Fail in particular have lost faith in the whole confidence and supply agreement, they get very little credit out of it although they are doing reasonably OK in the poles. But I just don’t think the Irish politics have actually come to grips with the idea of a strong parliament and a weak government. In reality what we have is a very weak government and I think the Taoiseach will come out very damaged and out of this very badly and I think in the New Year he will be tempted to take down the government himself and seek a fresh mandate.
Sputnik: Is the agreement between the two parties in Ireland working at the moment?
Gary Murphy: I mean the big thing he could do, is he could make the Minister for Foreign Affairs Tánaiste. The Tánaiste basically is the second in command and it has never really been a strong office in Irish Politics, particularly if you have the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste from the same political Party. But I think Simon Coveney’s hand has been strengthened, I mean he is doing by most accounts including my own here a pretty decent job as Minister for Foreign Affairs, negotiating through these choppy waters of the Brexit issue. I think his hand has been significantly strengthened, so he would be one likely alternative another would be to make the Minister of Finance Paschal Donohoe who by common view is the star of the Fianna Fail. They are the two obvious people.