Past week saw rural Independents group confirm intention to table no-confidence motion in Harris
How foundations of minority Fine Gael-led Government were steadily eroded

How foundations of minority Fine Gael-led Government were steadily eroded

How foundations of minority Fine Gael-led Government were steadily eroded

How foundations of minority Fine Gael-led Government were steadily eroded

How foundations of minority Fine Gael-led Government were steadily eroded

How foundations of minority Fine Gael-led Government were steadily eroded
How foundations of minority Fine Gael-led Government were steadily eroded
  • 2020-01-15 01:10:07 3 days ago
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The foundations underpinning the Fine Gael-led minority government of the 32nd Dáil were weak to begin with but have steadily been eroded in the four years since the last general election.

Initially led by Enda Kenny, with Leo Varadkar assuming the leadership of Fine Gael and the taoiseach’s office in mid-2017, the Fine Gael-led minority Government was allowed function thanks to the acquiescence of Fianna Fáil.

Micheál Martin turned down Fine Gael’s offer of a full-blown coalition in 2016 and instead entered into a confidence-and-supply agreement, which saw his party abstain in budget and confidence motions in the Dáil.

But by last month, it had become obvious the Government could no longer continue even with the confidence-and-supply deal.

Over the weekend, as he prepared the ground for Tuesday’s announcement, Varadkar said the tightening Dáil numbers meant the circumstances had changed since he had previously maintained he wanted the election to be held in May 2020.

Last month’s Dáil motion of no confidence in Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy was defeated by the Government by 56 votes to 53, thanks to the support of three Opposition Independents who wanted to avoid a pre-Christmas election: Michael Lowry, Denis Naughten and Noel Grealish.

Yet, even though the Government survived, the Murphy vote will be seen as the clarifying point that signalled the Varadkar administration had come to an end.

Former Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy, who was embroiled in controversy over his Dáil attendance and expenses, resigned after the vote.

It reduced the Government’s total strength to 53 out of a total of 158 TDs. In contrast, 59 TDs voted for Kenny as taoiseach at the successful third attempt on May 6th, 2016. Fine Gael then had 50 seats, but lost Frances Fitzgerald, who was elected to the European Parliament; Peter Fitzpatrick, who resigned the party whip; then Dara Murphy in the intervening period.

Resigned

Naughten was Minister for Communications but resigned from Government in October 2018 and Clare Independent TD Michael Harty, who voted for Kenny as taoiseach and supported the Government at times in its early stages, increasingly voted with the Opposition.

Along with Fitzgerald, three other ex-TDs were elected to the European Parliament last May, and the resulting byelections returned two Fianna Fáil TDs as well as one each for Sinn Féin and the Green Party. The byelections in themselves did not weaken the Government’s Dáil position, given Fianna Fáil’s policy of abstention.

Senior Fine Gael figures have insisted they wanted a summer election to allow Varadkar campaign in the sun, yet the Taoiseach made the most of the hand available to him

Thomas Pringle, the Donegal TD who was absent for the Murphy no-confidence vote, was unlikely to miss another motion against Minister for Health Simon Harris. Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness said he would no longer abstain on such motions, a point Varadkar made to Micheál Martin in their ultimately failed efforts to agree an election date.

‘Precarious’

The past week saw the rural Independent group of deputies confirm they intended to table a no-confidence motion in Harris in early February, and the numbers were certain to be, in Varadkar’s words, “precarious”.

It became obvious he had to call an election on his own terms or be brought down in a confidence vote.

The Taoiseach began preparing the ground for the February 8th election after the Murphy vote.

He began saying the election would be held at the “right time for the country”, instead of his previous position that he wanted a May 2020 poll, and asked Martin to nominate some Fianna Fáil TDs to support the Government to make up for McGuinness breaking with the confidence-and-supply deal, a politically impossible ask.

Senior Fine Gael figures have always insisted they wanted a summer election to allow Varadkar campaign in the sun, yet the Taoiseach yesterday made the most of the hand available to him.

With Britain leaving the EU a week before polling day, he sought to frame the campaign around what he has called his Government’s “magnum opus”.

Having resisted pressure from within his party on a number of occasions to go to the country during previous gaps in the tortured Brexit process, Varadkar said a “window of opportunity” had opened to “have a new government in place before the next European Council meeting in March with a strong mandate” for the negotiations on the future trade agreement between the EU and UK.

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How foundations of minority Fine Gael-led Government were steadily eroded

One in 15 cars taking NCT unsafe to drive on public roads

One in 15 cars taking NCT unsafe to drive on public roads

One in every 15 cars submitted for the national car test last year were found to be dangerously defective and unsafe to be driven on public roads.

Figures published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) show more than 92,000 vehicles examined at NCT test centres during 2019 were found to be in an unroadworthy condition.

A total of 92,523 cars were classified as “fail dangerous”.

They represent 6.6 per cent of almost 1.4 million cars tested at 47 test centres nationwide last year.

Although the vast majority subsequently obtained a NCT, a total of 2,791 vehicles were still found to be dangerously defective following a retest.

According to the RSA, tyres in poor condition and problems with brakes are the main reason why cars are deemed dangerous to drive on public roads.

An authority spokesperson said the large number of cars being classified as “fail dangerous” was not surprising.

As a result of the implementation of an EU directive on roadworthiness tests on motor vehicles since 2018, all defects are now classified as either minor, major or dangerous.

‘Still unaware’

“Many motorists are still unaware about the change in classification and there is a need to educate car owners that there are some problems which will have their vehicle deemed unsafe to drive on public roads and that they need to take the issue seriously,” the spokesperson said.

A recent survey by the RSA indicated that 40 per cent of all car owners used the NCT as a diagnostic tool for problems with their vehicles, which the RSA claims explains the higher failure rate for the initial test.

“People need to stop using the NCT to identify problems with their car. They should be getting it serviced regularly by a mechanic as it is a much more detailed examination. The NCT can never be a substitute for a full service,” said the RSA spokesperson.

Any motorist detected driving an unroadworthy vehicle is liable for a fine of up to €2,000 and five penalty points and/or a three-month jail term

Neither the RSA nor Applus, the operator of the NCT, collect information on the number of people who still drive away from NCT centres in an unroadworthy vehicle or who arrange to have their car towed away.

The RSA spokesperson said anyone who continued to drive a vehicle after it was deemed dangerously defective was “irresponsible”.

Any motorist whose vehicle is classified as “fail dangerous” is advised that it is unsafe to be used on the road “under any circumstances”.

A sticker stating “failed dangerous” is placed on such vehicles by NCT inspectors at the end of a test.

‘Illegal’

“It is illegal for a vehicle to be driven on a public road with dangerous defects which means the driver may incur penalty points and a court appearance if caught by An Garda Síochána,” the RSA spokesperson said.

Any motorist detected driving an unroadworthy vehicle is liable for a fine of up to €2,000 and five penalty points and/or a three-month jail term.

The RSA said gardaí were automatically notified via the National Vehicle and Driver File of any vehicle that was overdue its test by three months.

Such information is also now available to gardaí at roadside checkpoints. They are equipped with hand-held devices for checking on the licensing status of drivers and vehicles stopped.

RSA figures show 50 per cent of all cars which underwent a NCT last year passed the full test – up from 49.1 per cent in 2018.

In addition to the “fail dangerous” vehicles, more than 603,000 other cars also failed the test.

The figures indicate that more than 41,500 vehicles that did not pass the full test were not submitted for a retest.

Cars first registered in 2015, 2013, 2011, 2009 and any older vehicles were due for testing last year.

The RSA confirmed recently it had required Applus to pilot changes to the testing of a vehicle’s suspension.

Fatal traffic collision

It follows a €31,000 award by Cork Circuit Civil Court against Applus for failing to spot a faulty suspension in a vehicle, which was subsequently involved in a fatal traffic collision.

A post-collision report found the vehicle to be unroadworthy both at the time of its involvement in a fatal crash near Fota, Co Cork, in December 2012 and when it passed the NCT seven months earlier.

The driver of the vehicle, Cork woman Amanda O’Flaherty (26), was killed after the car veered suddenly into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Man Utd duo Marcus Rashford and Daniel James discuss who is faster

Man Utd duo Marcus Rashford and Daniel James discuss who is faster

Manchester United pair Marcus Rashford and Daniel James have been discussing who is faster - and the two appear to agree.

James has impressed fans and terrorised defences with his blistering pace this season, while Rashford is also known for his speed - making United highly dangerous on the counter-attack.

But who is fastest? Wales international James was asked that question by Sky Sports and reckoned he'd "edge it", saying he and his team-mate should have a race to settle it once and for all.

"Sometimes I don't think I'm as quick as people say," said the 22-year-old.

"When you look at me and [Marcus] he always says I'm quicker. I know a few of the boys said we need to have a race and maybe one day we will."

Daniel James reckons he'd 'edge' a race with Marcus Rashford

Asked if he would win, James said: "Yeah, I'd probably just edge it."

But Rashford wasn't ready to rise to the challenge of a race - suggesting that James is indeed the quickest.

Asked about the prospect of a race, Rashford told United Review : "I don’t know about that!

"I won’t be racing him, that’s for sure!"

Rashford's double against Norwich on Sunday took his tally to 14 in the Premier League this season

James has assisted four of Rashford's 14 Premier League goals this season - that's the the second highest assist-to-scorer tally this campaign.

And Rashford, also 22, praised the impact of his team-mate since since the winger's £15million summer move from Swansea.

He said: "Dan has been brilliant since he came in.

"He works hard in every single game and, when it comes down to it, that is all you can ask of each player – to give it all they’ve got.

"He definitely does that and, if we can adapt more to his playing style, he can cause some teams nightmares down the right-hand side, as we’ve seen in some games this season.

"But I like his deliveries as well. He takes his time and doesn’t just cross it. He lifts his head up and tries to pick you out. It’s these little things that, as time goes on, he will definitely improve on and build on."

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