Irish election

Does anyone really think HS2 will be good for the country?

How depressed should one be about the HS2 go-ahead? The cost is stupefying. The offering to the north — considered so important politically — seems to be unappealing to plenty of northerners and, like a parody of British railway late arrivals, won’t reach its destination until the mid-2030s. Worse, perhaps, is the sense, especially when seen in conjunction with the Huawei go-ahead, that the government is already trapped by the past. It reminds me of Theresa May’s decision to review the Hinkley Point C programme and then let it go ahead after all. In that case, as in that of Huawei, the government reluctantly concluded it could not get out

Why we should welcome a Sinn Fein government

There are those – most of my acquaintance in Ireland, frankly – who can think of nothing worse than Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald as leader of the next Irish government. She’s embracing the prospect; in a walkabout in Dublin’s fruit and veg market in Moore Street, she said, as you’d expect, ‘I may well be the next Taoiseach, yes’. And yep, it would be a disaster for Britain when it comes to the Brexit negotiations. But I think that, actually, it might be the best outcome from this election which has resulted in Sinn Fein effectively level pegging with Fianna Fail in terms of seats (one FF representative is

Sinn Fein’s surge in the Irish election was a cry of frustration

The people have spoken. Now, what do they mean? That is the first question to be asked in the wake of this Irish election and, as is so often the case, not all the answers to it are elementary and some of them are contradictory. This was both a startling election result and an unsurprising one. Few people, least of all Sinn Fein themselves, thought Mary Lou McDonald’s party would top the poll but some aspects of the result are less surprising. Overall, however, this was both an earthquake election and an inconclusive one. So much so, in fact, that the 33rd Dail may prove a short one. Until the

The Sinn Fein surge has stunned Varadkar – and transformed Irish politics

You know the story. A Prime Minister takes a tough line on Brexit talks and holds a snap election thinking voters will be impressed – instead, they don’t care and it ends in disaster. It happened to Theresa May in 2017 and it just has happened to Leo Varadkar. The votes are still being counted, but it’s clear that no party has a majority, or anything close to a majority and that Varadkar’s gamble failed. Support for his Fine Gael has plunged and a stunning Sinn Fein surge has changed everything. It’s not just that Sinn Fein won most of the first preference votes. For decades, Irish politics has been

Why Varadkar’s Brexit bashing is falling flat

Leo Varadkar did not pull any punches in his interview with BBC Political Editor Laura Kuennsberg on Monday. Embroiled in a general election campaign, with less than two weeks to go until polling day, the incumbent Taoiseach told Kuennsberg that Britain is underestimating the difficulties that lie ahead as phase two of Brexit gets underway: ‘I think the reality of the situation is that the European Union is a union of 27 member states, the UK is only one country, and we have a population and a market of 450 million people. The UK is about 60 [million]. So if these were two teams up against each other playing football,

Can Leo Varadkar survive the upcoming Irish election?

Yesterday, the Irish government announced that there will be a General Election on Saturday, February 8. Curiously, the path to it was cleared by Boris Johnson’s decisive electoral win last month. Up to now, there has been no desire on the part of either the government or the main opposition parties to hold an election because of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Partisan politics were largely set aside, all the parties donned the ‘green jersey’ and teamed up with Brussels to try and ensure either the softest possible Brexit, or no Brexit at all. The united front disguised the fact that, Brexit-aside, the Leo Varadkar-led Government has been a lame duck