Dalkey Literary Awards - 20th June 2020
Dalkey Literary Awards - 20th June 2020

Is Ireland ungovernable? Vincent Browne, Sean O’Rourke, Pat Leahy, & Dearbhail McDonald fight it out

After a stop off in Dalkey’s amazing Select Stores for a detox smoothie  and a garlicy falafel we’re back at the Secret Garden for a panel debate that’s probably going to give us indigestion.

We’re here with Sean O’Rourke (RTE), Pat Leahy (previously of The Sunday Business Post, currently of The Irish Times), Dearbhail McDonald (The Irish Independent), and Vincent Browne (Broadcaster, journalist)

Sean is introducing the guests – Vinny B is not here, but on his way.

We’re straight in, with Sean putting the headline question “Is Ireland ungovernable?” to our speakers.

Prevailing sentiment is “they will make it work” as Derbhail and Pat agree that it is in no TDs interest to go to a re-election right now.

Sean points to the paradox of our current Irish government – “they’re in government and in opposition at the same time.”

Pat Leahy says that this is a new experiment in government.

Dearbhail brings the conversation round to the Twitter poll she posted earlier on, knowing she was going to be asked the question at the Dalkey Book festival: “How long will the government last?”


We’re back onto the coalition government. What’s the relationship between the two parties’ leaders? Pat is talking about Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin’s personal relationship, saying whilst they’re both “affable” they have not always had the best personal relationship, although things have improved Pat says.



“I haven’t seen the issue of abortion spoken about with a lot of enthusiasm by Enda Kenny. He’s a cautious and careful man at the best of times, and I think he’s taking refuge in the process,” Pat is talking about Enda Kenny’s likelihood of tackling the issue of the eighth amendment.

But hold the line. Vincent has arrived finally!


And Sean puts him under the spot immediately. “What are your expectations for this government?”, “None at all,” Vincent quips back.

“Who’s that auld fella at the front, I was asking myself when I got here,” Vincent says, referring to Sean.

Things have kicked off properly it would seem.

Sean poses the panel debate’s title to Vincent, “Is Ireland ungovernable?””No.”

And that’s all folks, thanks for joining us. Joke.


We’re onto the welfare system and Pat and Vincent are at loggerheads.

“The UK has a much better welfare system – they have an actual free healthcare system.”

Pat: “We have a free healthcare system, with elements that don’t work -”

Vincent: “This is the type of right-wing fascistic talk that’s characterised the Sunday Business Post and The Irish Times.”


A gentleman sitting in the front  takes this opportunity to shout out, “You’re a fascist on steroids.”

Don’t say we didn’t warn you it was going to be a messy discussion!

We’re talking about the media’s reporting on current issues, and Dearbhail is remarking that they (The Independent) have not hired in quite some time and that perhaps the Irish media is missing out on new voices.


Vincent comes in, “The younger people would come in with the same old wank.”

It’s question time and one woman has posed the question –

“Is there something the Irish electorate has said that Irish politicians have not listened to?”


The discussion has gotten very lively altogehter, people in the audience are taking issue with several points made or ignored by the panel, and the crowd has started to call out their approval or disapproval of the panelists, who seem to be having quite a bit of craic with it.

Pat is back on the subject of the coalition government, saying that most people would be hard-pressed to find a “cigarette paper of difference” between the two parties, and that the two parties genuinely believe there is a difference however. Vinny B objects to even discussing the issue and jokes about Pat’s “ponderous manner.”

We’re ending on a survey of the audience by Sean. “Is Ireland governable?” The people’s majority says yes.