There's long been a sense that Shane Ross was taking a little bit much credit for the downfall of the FAI. Rightly praised for his initial handling of the situation, removing state funding from a basketcase organisation, Ross has more and more used the collapse of the FAI as the centrepiece of his political stump speech as election season draws near. Ross was the hero that brought down John Delaney and his old boys' network and we were sure to hear about it. (Never mind that he was defending Delaney to the hilt just last year. You're not supposed to remember that in politics.)
Ross was, however, always working with a short rope. Football fans, professionals and media know a grandstander, and were acutely aware of Ross' fundamental lack of understanding of the game and its workings. His Stephen's Day tweet was a final straw.
Guess who cooked my goose? The FAI? The Judges? The Vintners ? pic.twitter.com/yXptsFUJdw
— Shane Ross (@Ross_Shane1) December 26, 2019
The tweet, which got over a thousand responses, was widely criticised, not least by actual employees of the FAI, celebrating Christmas under the cloud of uncertainly in their employment. And yet, it took the minister three days to respond. The tweet was not deleted, the affront not addressed. Eventually, he spoke to the Sunday Independent, who report today that he was sorry IF any FAI workers took it that he was making light of their serious situation.
They can rest assured that their interests are top priority, not only today, but will be in weeks to come.
I was just highlighting three groups of insiders with vested interests who have resisted my proposed reforms to their protected citadels: the judges who are still trying to retain their inner circle; the vintners who resisted my drink-driving Bill tooth and nail; and the old guard at the top in the FAI who haven't all gone away, you know.
Within the article, Ross also claims to have had unsuccessful talks about a united Ireland football team with Arlene Foster, and naively suggests setting up a new League of Ireland if the FAI is liquidated would be "very easy".
It is unlikely that Ross' apology for his insensitive tweet will carry much weight this late on. While he is sure to continue his Robin Hood like show against the evil Sheriff of Abbotstown, it appears the honeymoon is over for the hero of the story. After all, even the zenith of praise contained talk of the accuracy of broken clocks.
Separately, Minister Ross has yet to apologise for cooking a goose for Christmas dinner.