Sunday, May 13, 2007

McDowell pardons Ahern

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern this afternoon released his promised statement on the circumstances surrounding his 1997 house purchase. This had been largely superseded by his extensive “interview” on the topic, published in this morning’s Sunday Independent, but the later statement served to flesh out some of the details.

However, on RTE’s “This Week” news review at 1.00pm today, Michael McDowell, in advance of the issue of the more detailed Ahern statement, was already confirming that he was now satisfied with the Taoiseach’s explanation and would be happy to serve in a new coalition with Bertie and Fianna Fail after the election.

In fact, McDowell was anxious to discuss the “real issues“, rather than Bertie’s personal finances, as if the latter had merely been a dastardly opposition plot to distract the electorate from those real issues. You’d never have guessed that it was McDowell himself who, last weekend, was issuing dire warnings and demanding a full and frank explanation from the Taoiseach, who was required to prove to the electorate that he was worthy of their trust.

Indeed, if the entire media is to be believed, McDowell had planned to quit the Government at that point in time and was only dissuaded by the rural PD TDs, who need Fianna Fail transfers if they’re to have any chance of retaining their seats.

Are we now to believe that McDowell might well have been satisfied by the explanation available if he had simply chosen to phone Ahern, rather than first setting out to bring down the Government but then settling for that crisis press conference last Sunday?

Just what does this all say about the political judgement of a man who holds one of the most sensitive portfolios in the Government?

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