Subscriber OnlyPolitics

Love is not in the air for Fianna Fáil over confidence-and-supply deal

Inside Politics: Party rolled its eyes when John McGuinness was on radio

Good morning, and happy Valentine’s Day — the day the price of a bunch of roses rises by national children’s hospital proportions.

Matters in Fianna Fáil, however, are not quite as loving. The past few days have seen a bitter exchange of views at a parliamentary party meeting between serial rebel John McGuinness and Barry Cowen over the confidence-and-supply deal and other issues.

McGuinness and the Cowens have history, of course. The Carlow-Kilkenny TD was one of the first within the party to publicly criticise Brian Cowen, and has had a testy relationship with Cowen the Younger since he took the family seat in Offaly at the 2011 election.

The wider Fianna Fáil parliamentary party rolled its eyes when McGuinness appeared on Today with Sean O'Rourke Wednesday to outline what happened at Tuesday's supposed private party meeting. Niall Collins, the Limerick deputy once close to McGuinness, accused him of making the same "tired" old criticisms, adding that the party membership are "sick" of the former PAC chair.


Marc MacSharry, another serial rebel, was called into party leader Micheál Martin's for a chat earlier this week. MacSharry, while declining to comment on what occurred, said they regularly discuss policy and political positioning.

Others in the parliamentary party have taken umbrage on behalf of Laois TD and PAC chairman Sean Fleming, who was tapped on the shoulder by Stephen Donnelly, the health spokesman, over calls Fleming made for Simon Harris's resignation. Predictably, it led to claims from those who see heavy handed tactics from the top of the party at play to criticise Donnelly, who joined from the Social Democrats two years ago, for not being in the party a "wet week".

But away from such squabbling, the coming two weeks are important for Fianna Fáil as it looks forward to the crucial political milestones of 2019: the local and European elections in May.

The Fianna Fáil selection convention for the Dublin European Parliament constituency is on Sunday. Former TDs Barry Andrews, Conor Lenihan, Mary Hanafin and marriage equality campaigner Tiernan Brady are all competing for the nomination, and the results should be known on Sunday evening.

The following weekend sees the Fianna Fáil ardfheis take place in Dublin, the first ardfheis since October 2017. The intervening period has seen the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment and the extension of the confidence-and-supply deal, both of which caused discomfort for some of the party rank-and-file. Their mood and views will be of major interest at the knees up in Citywest.

Have a great day. And don’t forget the chocolates.

Best Reads

Jennifer Bray reports that national children's hospital board was warned five years ago that builders were lodging "unsustainable low-cost bids" to win contracts before trying to recoup the money.

Newton Emerson says the DUP seems to be preparing for Brexit compromise.

Our lead from Simon Carswell and Mark Paul says Ken O'Connell, the man whose shredding of files helped collapse the trial of former Anglo chairman Seán FitzPatrick, wants a public hearing to explain his errors.

In his weekly column, Stephen Collins laments the coarsening of political debate in Ireland, following the protest outside Simon Harris's home last weekend.

Miriam Lord watches as on as Valentine's Day cards fly across the Dáil chamber, or not.


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Transport Shane Ross will turn the sod on the new north runway at Dublin Airport this morning.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe is up on oral questions.

Leaders’ Questions follows at noon, followed by questions on promised legislation.

There is a motion on an air service agreement with Hong Kong.

Weekly votes will take place at lunchtime, with a PMB from Independents4Change on homelessness after lunch.

The Criminal Law (Extraterritorial Jurisdiction) Bill 2018 is at second stage.

The Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) [Seanad] Bill 2018 is at second stage.

The Prohibition of Above Cost Ticket Touting Bill 2017 is at second stage.

Topical issues then follow, with another Independents PMB, this one on Industrial Provident Societies (Amendment) Bill at second stage.

The Upper House will hear statements on the National Training Fund, led by Minister of State for Skills John Halligan.

The PAC has a hearing with broadband service providers, including representatives from BT, Eir, the Regional Internet Service Providers Association, Imagine and Enet.

Housing, Planning and Local Government has an update on the water sector with representatives from Irish Water, the EPA and the Department of Housing.

The Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection resumes its meeting on bogus self-employment with Professor Michael Doherty of Maynooth University.

The Good Friday Agreement Committee discusses challenges facing cross border authorities.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney will brief the Foreign Affairs Committee on the Brexit Omnibus legislation.