As one half of the country breathes a sigh of relief, while the other prepares for the worst, Ireland’s government is set to be formed today in Dublin’s convention centre.
Some 140 days on, amid an unprecedented global pandemic, the 33rd Dáil will convene on a Dublin quay, the civil war ended by an impressive margin.
Tomorrow morning, the first Cork Taoiseach since Jack Lynch, Micheál Martin, will be voted into the highest office in the land, before taking off for Phoenix Park to seal the deal with Michael D. Higgins.
The real capital will see an incredible rebel showing in cabinet as, along with the Taoiseach, Simon Coveney and Michael McGrath are also expected to take senior ministries after being appointed on Saturday morning.
What will follow will be a day of protocol and ceremonies, much of it unnoticed by the masses. However, what happens in the coming days will likely map out what we should expect from this unlikely marriage.
Micheál Martin’s time in office is numbered, with his time at the top due to run out in December. From his previous time in government, we know Martin likes to put his stamp on policy and we should expect no less from the man who worked for decades to get his feet under the most important desk in Merrion St.
In a previous life, critics labelled Martin’s smoking ban a figurative smokescreen for other issues within his government, but the policy remains a huge success for the then- Health Minister who was way ahead of the Oireachtas and the eurozone.
It’s highly likely we’re to see a number of similar big policies and changes announced early on. Time is of the essence, and Martin moves quickly -those who have canvassed with the Turners Cross native, know this is both literally and figuratively-.
In this vein, Martin has made a point in recent months of specifically mentioning the climate and environment.
Although he’s made no secret of his interest in biodiversity in the past, Martin’s recent remarks have a definite green-tinge, and a clear nod to his new partners in government.
Kickstarting the Irish economy is priority number one, so a promised massive retrofit of housing could be just the ticket, creating jobs, climate proofing homes, and stamping his Green credentials early on. An early win which would garner little opposition.
Brexit, though much-forgotten, will be back on the agenda and Boris’ bluster is likely to continue after a poor showing during Covid19, the blundering blondie will be keen to beat his chest over trade for a much-needed win in his opinion polls.
With Taoiseach Micheal Martin flanked by Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar at the forefront of cabinet, this is one area we can expect a considerable amount of harmony.
What comes after is anyone’s guess.
In a comic tragedy, the most complicated Irish government make-up could be facing the most complicated time in Irish history, and it’ll take a lot of faith in old enemies to steady the ship.