A motion of no confidence in Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been defeated by 81 to 76 votes in the Dáil. Nothing too surprising there. The vote was a foregone conclusion. However it is not without embarrassment for the Government on a number of fronts.
The Green party which - prior to the election-savaged Mr Ahern dutifully trooped into the lobbies to support the Taoiseach. The Greens have u-turned on incineration and co-location. They have lost out on the M3. Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan has now stated that he will be backing a yes vote in next year's referendum on the new EU treaty. Green politicians have sold out on the use of Shannon Airport by US military personnel. They have shed any remaining vestiges of credibility. FF now has a new mudguard. Unfortunately for our erstwhile environmental party the electoral guillotine may fall in the 2012 General Election.
Not unnaturally no FF TD voted with the opposition. Fianna Fail TDs may huff and puff but when the chips are down they are rarely found off side. That is the strength of FF. However Bertie must watch his back as aspiring Taoisigh jockey for position in advance of the inevitable leadership contest. Already Dermot Ahern and Noel Dempsey have been out of the blocks.
Brian Cowen who professes loyalty to the leader is biding his time. Micheal Martin , Mary Hanafin and Brian Lenihan wait in the wings. Bertie has been seriously damaged both by the appearances at the Mahon Tribunal and the narrowness of the winning margin tonight. Interestingly Enterprise Minister Micheal Martin and Overseas Development Minister Michael Kitt were away on business. However they were 'paired' with Opposition TDs to balance numbers. It appears at this juncture that 4 Government TDs may have been AWOL. IF so the writing is on the wall for Bertie.
Both Enda Kenny and Eamonn Gilmore performed strongly. The opposition scents blood. Interesting times ahead on the Irish political scene.