The lights have yet to dimmer and already Merrion Street seems flummoxed by the impending Winter Energy Crisis. While Irish military aid is flowing into the Donbass as part of Coveney’s Army, our native regime will find keeping the engine of state humming along rather strenuous this year.
Having spent the best part of a generation dismantling peat powered energy production and backing the wrong horse on wind energy, government experts are preparing to implement emergency plans to mitigate fuel shortages.
Vesting inordinate amounts of power in the Department of the Environment to ration fuel should the worst occur, the state’s Energy Security Emergency Group (ESEG) looks to set be the energy crisis’s answer to NPHET. The second time in as many years the state has been forced to rely on technocracy to govern, the plans make for some ghastly reading.
Aiming to prioritise the bare essentials in terms of health, food and industrial security, the state is preparing 40 types of ‘emergency workers’ to skip the queues at 130 designated fuel stations.
Reminiscent of lockdown mania, under these plans non-essential workers could be limited to 15 to 20 litres of petrol, with the probability of Gardaí or the Defence Forces supervising distribution. A bad look for a peacetime democracy.
Heading up the state’s defences against economic doomsday is Green leader Eamon Ryan, transformed into a de facto energy czar in preparation for the turmoil. While doing everything in his power to cripple Irish energy autonomy and enhance real world privation through the anti-carbon agenda, such a position surely spells the end for him and medium term prospects of the Green Party.
The PUP, fear driven media coverage and maintenance of living standards kept popular dissent at bay for the covid crisis, a situation and reactions therein where the population is literally left in the dark is unprecedented for a Western democracy let alone an enfeebled Irish political system.
One imagines Ryan is privately resigned to his political fate as the ministerial face of energy chaos with enough state pensions in the bag to secure a tidy future. Be mindful that his actions will not be mediated by wishing to hold political office knowing that the ship has long sailed the moment Defence Forces are deployed to petrol pumps.
The lack of joined up thinking when it came to data centre planning is partially culpable, but hearing statements of an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Energy one cannot let the green agenda off the hook. Warning of the risk of low wind to energy security, Eirgrid chief Mark Foley intoned that the state is less prepared for the crisis as it was last year.
In essence, Ryan and co. have a lot more to answer for than what eventuates this Winter. It will not take much to send the covid battered Irish economy into a tailspin when cheap energy is taken off the table.
Resurrected from Cowen era annihilation through the global Climate Strike movement and the middle class strata of Green voters, one political comeback in a lifetime may already be enough for Ryan. Hardly the flavour of the month to radicals in the party, his oafish charm and willingness to win major concessions with the Programme for Government has saved his political bacon the past 2 years. Slowly but surely the left flank of the Green Party are edging away from their helmsman as the machinations of Neasa Hourigan suggest.
Centre left parties since Labour have always functioned under a sort of political slash and burn, routine, pushing the envelope further on various agendas while crashing into electoral squalor the next cycle only to be replaced again.Labour to Greens and back again, the Social Democrats seem destined to take up his self immolatory mantle.
One can be sure the likes of Roderic O’Gorman is already firing off CVs for a comfy number, higher than what the Saorstát can facilitate. What use is democracy when successive fleeting hacks can railroad your public policy with no care for electoral repercussions and depart into the international sunset afterwards?
The sense of doom no doubt extends to Fianna Fáil, running down the clock on what is likely their final bite of the apple in the Department of Taoiseach. Martin’s position is secure due to the party’s dearth of popular support and impending electoral kneecapping to the shinners as the crisis deepens. Starkly facing out onto a cliffedge who would want power in Ireland 2022.
Expect an Eamon Ryan effigy or two on the bonfire around Christmas, ideally stuffed with old covid propaganda for good measure but no change to the calculus that installed the green junta into the halls of power.
Aspirant Irish populists ought to be wanting a rather austere Winter with a chance of fireworks running higher and higher the lower the mercury plunges.