The new taoiseach isn’t off to a good start.

First he threatened to shout down Fine Gael every time they spoke in the Dáil, now he’s been forced to back down before the farmers.

Ever since the IFA made it clear their support couldn’t be taken for granted in the run-up to the Lisbon referendum, the Government did its best to belittle their stance.

IFA President Padraig Walshe didn’t have a problem with the treaty itself, but had reservations about the way WTO talks were headed.

His tactical demand was simple: change the EU negotiating position, or lose our votes.

The cabinet responded in passive-aggressive mode by deploring the manufactured link between the treaty and completely separate trade talks.

The farmers were unfazed. The EU needed their votes, and their price was straightforward: Stop Mandelson.

As business groups and trade unions fell into line, the IFA stood firm.

The story was never far from the front pages. Unlike Sinn Féin or the Green rump, the IFA could not be accused of being reflexively anti-EU.

That made their withdrawal potent.

And so, Brian Cowen blinked.

It’s been a good week for the IFA.

For Biffo, not so much.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.