Pistols at dawn between a young pretender and a seasoned veteran, both trying to deal with irate stationary sellers and farmers, those giving out about public transport deficiencies and communities worried about rural decline.
On Sunday, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, told RTÉ his mind was made up on an election date. By the time you read this, I’m guessing the speculation will have settled on Wednesday for the day of dissolution of the Dáil.
Putting aside angels-on-a-pinhead arguments about the actual year in which a decade expires and a new one commences — is it January 1, 2020, or 12 months on in 2021 and, anyway, who really cares? — what we hope will be the peace and quiet of St Stephen’s Day brings an opportunity to reflect not only on the country’s 2019 but also on aspects of the Dáil’s less-than-adequate performance since 2010.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar found himself in familiar, discomfiting — or at least it should be — territory on Saturday when he had to give a plausible response to the latest challenge to the idea of high standards in high places bedeviling Fine Gael’s long-cherished but now threadbare idea of itself.
The poor turnout in last week’s by-elections might, with a Christmas-party dash of wishful thinking, be explained by an approaching general election and the by-elections’ relevance in the face of the ongoing supply and confidence arrangement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Robert Watt from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform told a gathering of business leaders in 2014 that the civil service was in need of structural change and required some new leadership — but five years later, €1.8m bill for the Oireachtas printer scandal typifies just how little things have changed, writes