Covid rules broken: can Ireland's government survive?
Dara Calleary, Ireland's Minister of Agriculture, has resigned after just five weeks in office. The move came after it was revealed that he had flouted coronavirus restrictions by attending a dinner with 80 other guests. Also at the party was EU Trade Commissioner Philip Hogan, who intends to remain in office. For Irish commentators the government is ensnared in a web of crisis.
A slap in the face of law-abiding citizens
The scandal has dealt a hard blow to the government's credibility in the fight against Covid-19, The Irish Times criticises:
“At a time when the Irish public needs clear, coherent leadership, it is getting just the opposite. The majority of people have endured a variety of severe restrictions on their way of living since March in the interests of society as a whole. That is what makes the flouting of them by elements of the political class so galling. The Government's difficulties in agreeing and communicating changes in its Covid-19 strategy have been exacerbated by this sorry affair. Its ability to promote a 'We're in this together' message has been perhaps fatally undermined.”
Coalition in big trouble
This crisis could bring down the three-party Irish coalition even though it has only been in power for two months, The Irish Independent fears:
“Sometimes a political crisis drives the parties in government together. That is unlikely now. It puts further pressure on a government that is straining at the seams. ... The Government has a tough task in the autumn. The virus is not going away. A temporary economic crash seems to be giving way to a sustained recession. The Greens are already divided about what to do, which will only get worse when there is pressure to cut spending. Fianna Fáil is disunited. Fine Gael look to want out.”