‘Voters will just walk away’ — TDs fear lure of fringe may sway opinion
Senior Government figures have conceded that unless they improve their communications with the electorate, the possibility of demonstrations by ‘ordinary decent citizens’ rather than Saturday’s ‘sinister fringe’ are high.© Provided by Extra.ie Pleas are being issued to save the people of Cork from the the same horror after rioters hurled fireworks and flares as well as bottles at gardaí. Pic: Damian Eagers/PA Wire
The concession comes amid the recognition that the Coalition’s communications strategy has failed, with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar telling Newstalk’s On The Record that attacks on the communications strategy by his party’s TDs were, ‘fair criticism, in my view’.
Mr Varadkar added that as they have a sustainable plan, ‘we now have a responsibility to communicate this’.© Provided by Extra.ie Protesters and Gardai clashing during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre on Saturday. Pic: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/REX
The Tánaiste’s warning came against a backdrop where, even before the Grafton Street riot, an ongoing failure of communications has, according to the polls, eroded public consent for the Government’s pandemic strategy.
All parties agreed that the Grafton Street event was a riot rather than a protest.
However, the level of violence has accelerated growing concerns within Government over the level of public alienation and the potential for some event to be the catalyst for civil disobedience.© Provided by Extra.ie Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that attacks on the communications strategy by his party’s TDs were, ‘fair criticism, in my view’. Pic: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
One senior minister warned: ‘Protests by a sinister lunatic fringe are not our concern. We are more worried about the potential for silent acts of civil disobedience or that we will have some reprise of the water charges, where ordinary decent citizens will say they have had enough.’Or, worse still, they added: ‘The voters will just walk away, they will do the Irish thing of saying they support the Government’s measures, Message: while simply ignoring them.’
The warning came against a backdrop where ministers across Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil believe that public compliance is at a tipping point.
Significantly, ministers in both main Government parties believe that the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, should ‘pick up the slack, talk to the people and bring them with him’.© Provided by Extra.ie An anti-lockdown protester burns a face mask during a protest in Dublin city centre on Saturday. Pic: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/REX
Unease is also growing in Fianna Fáil that, ‘the problem is Micheál. This is Micheál’s communications meltdown.
‘It begins and ends with the Taoiseach. Everything else is window dressing.’
The Taoiseach, they said, ‘will have to find a better method of communications than the current “Micheál-splaining”. If he doesn’t, the next demonstrations may be by ordinary decent citizens rather than the sinister fringe’.