Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cullen's Ill-Health Gives Government A Headache

It seems there may be more to Martin Cullen’s departure from office and from politics than just a bad back.

Whispers around the corridors of power – among many Fianna Fail-ers – showed little sympathy for the Waterford man, despite his obvious physical pain.

The common view is that Cullen’s departure from office was expected – but his decision to pack it in as a TD came as a bolt from the blue for many.

“It was a two-fingers to the establishment,” one Fianna Fail source told this column.

“He knew he was being dumped on. He knew he was going to be dropped in a reshuffle so he decided to land Fianna Fail in it by resigning his seat as well.”

“Health? Sure look at Brian Lenihan and Michael Fitzpatrick? Both have serious health conditions but they didn’t step down,” the Fianna Fail source said.

Brian Lenihan is currently suffering from cancer and Kildare Fianna Fail TD Michael Fitzpatrick revealed at the weekend that he is suffering from Motor Neuron Disease.

Cullen’s actions – whether precipitated by pain or anger or both – now leaves Taoiseach Brian Cowen dealing with the headache of three by-elections.

And his chances of winning a seat in Donegal South West, Dublin South or Waterford are slim to none.

So he is faced with two serious choices over the coming months.

The first is to hold the three by-elections and see his leadership come under serious pressure if the party was to lose all three seats.

Or alternatively, he could throw caution and persistent critics to the wind and call a general election either before the summer recess or shortly afterwards.

Support for the Government is on a knife-edge as it is – including the three Fianna Fail TDs currently not under the whip, the Government has a majority of just six.

All it takes is for a few dissenters and all hell will break loose in the Dail.

Fianna Fail knows that come the next election – whenever it will be – they will be hit hard and will be looking at a spell in opposition.

So why not just get on with it and give the people of the country – those who pay the wages and on whose behalf the Government works – the chance to decide who should run the country.

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