Tuesday morning served up one of the most difficult and bleak Cabinet meetings many ministers had ever experienced.

A health and an economic emergency was set out in stark language over a two hour meeting where groups of ministers met, as required, in different rooms.

The Taoiseach's demeanour was described as difficult to read but he was not downbeat.

A few hours later he would travel to RTÉ for a Prime Time interview with Miriam O’Callaghan.

It was Leo Varadkar’s first televised interview since the Covid-19 crisis began.

Here the Government’s handling of the emergency thus far and its future plans were scrutinised.

It was evident that the brighter future politicians always want to speak about is some way off.

 Instead the Fine Gael leader spoke of the dangers of generating false hope.

Things would not be going back to normal until there was either a vaccine or when the virus became less virulent.

Indeed the time when popular political decisions could be made again were years away, in the far distance he hinted.

Right now those contemplating entering government were warned that their efforts would be greeted with endless criticism.

There will be a short-term plan released soon, before 5 May, which will set out the steps to gradually ease the restrictions currently in place.

But again there were warnings that severe measures could have to be reintroduced if there was an upsurge in the virus.

There was a bold assertion of leadership and perhaps a message sent to other talkative colleagues when Leo Varadkar said he would be the one to communicate this new plan.

"When you hear it from me, that’s a plan," he stated commandingly.

In the meantime there are many questions to answer about how the Government has approached this crisis over a period now spanning almost two months.

In particular there is a focus on the apparent slowness to fully comprehend the scale of the tragedy unfolding in nursing homes.

On these series of questions the Taoiseach looked less assured. He said a proper analysis of this time was not possible for another six months or even a year.

That as a political defence is a less than secure bulwark.

He did express regret that more was not done sooner in nursing homes around testing.

This he described as "a real shame," but he said it was not possible in the early days of the crisis because not everything can be prioritised.

And those health workers awaiting a solution to their urgent childcare requirements would hear that a solution was days or possibly weeks away.

Then there is the question of Leo Varadkar’s own future.

He indicated that other parties in a new government would have role in deciding if either he or Micheál Martin would serve as Taoiseach first.

It is a government that he said could build 60,000 social homes over five years using borrowed money.

But there were warnings too that all this talk of borrowing brought "flashbacks to ten years ago" when the economy crashed.

In essence this was a guarded interview with a message of better days ahead but they are many miles away.

In some ways it was not unlike the pithy line that is displayed outside one the boarded up bars in the centre of Dublin City.

It reads: "There is a good time coming, be it ever so far away."


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