When the third horse comes first

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin: Who will fall at which fence?

By Jimmy Rhatigan

IT WOULDN’T happen at Aintree.

And it certainly wouldn’t be tolerated at our own Gowran Park.

But we now have a situation in our so-called democratic Irish politics system where the horse that finished third may be presented with the winner’s trophy.

You couldn’t make it up.

Behind the scenes as our entire country grapples with a deadly enemy called Coronavirus, undercover men and women, people who would barely know the meaning of the word scruples, are plotting and planning.

Very soon we will see the results of their dark room connivings.

In a nut shell, results of a cracking neck and neck last General Election, Fine Gael came third in a three-horse race.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin were joint first with FF edging it by a nose as the outgoing Ceann Comhairle got back his seat without having to go to the electorate.

So it the result was: FF 38, SF 37 and FG 35.

Now following all sorts of political wrangling, large doses of ducking and diving and piles of persuasion the terrible twins that won very few friends when sleeping in the same bed for years are now back to play footsie again despite the fact that huge tranches of our people don’t want them.

All of which means that SF, the bookies outsider in what many considered a two-horse race, may end up out in the cold, in the opposition benches, and one suspects they will kick up one hell of a furore.

Murmurings from the periphery of the inner circle suggest that the FF and FG horses are running well in their efforts to get past the winning post with any plan to be the best equines in the stable.

The carrot is that if conditions are right for them to snuggle up to each other as they did with the excuse of Brexit, then Bob’s your uncle Mikey.

But the pair know full well that any Beecher’s Brook could well see fallers or horses throwing their riders that could upset their stated aim of what they see as a strong stable government to guide post Covid-19 Ireland to financial recovery.

In the meantime the love machine of the past four years is courting a posse of independents that could come to the rescue as FF and FG circle the wagons in case what they might view as Sinn Féin Indians could arrive on trusty steeds with bows and arrows at the ready.

That there uncertainty over whether or not the 12-TD Greens may join FG and FF in is yet another awkward fence to be jumped.

For The Greens it could be a case of once bitten twice shy as the last time they teamed up with FF did not have any fairy tale finish in 2011.

So it could well be a motley crew of independents to which FF/FG must turn for support in order to secure any reins of power.

If that option is to be their last supper then so be it but FF and FG will realise that while any instant hunger may be sated the prospect of a famine will always lurk.

And as if FF and FG didn’t already didn’t have enough obstacles in their way, the political world and its mother will know that that Mary Lou McDonald and Pearse Doherty will be as big a nuisance to the big two as Robin Hood and his merry men were to the Sheriff of Nottingham.

So any Grand National in an attempt to form a Government could have all the thrills and spills of a wacky Donkey Derby.

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