Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny was asked a very simple question by Marian Finucane recently (7th November).
The question concerned the disgraceful deal negotiated by Dr. James Reilly while president of the Irish Medical Organisation which saw doctors receive €640 for every patient over the age of 70. Now, as Fine Gael spokesman on health, Dr. Reilly is arguing against the deal.
Marian Finucane: Do you find it in any way bizarre that the man who negotiated the deal for the over 70s is now arguing against the deal
Enda Kenny: Well, James Reilly knows his medical politics and he knows his political politics
MF: So is there no such thing as principle
EK: Of course there’s principle, Dr. Reilly did his job well when he was speaking for the GPs
MF: So principle doesn’t come into it
EK: He’s now doing his job well as Fine Gael spokesman, principle does come into it when you do the job you have to do. I appointed him to this job to do a job for us…
MF: And you don’t think principle matters
EK: Principle matters
MF: You don’t think that if you are representing the GPs you might say to yourself – I’ll get a good deal but not a savagely good deal because there is a responsibility here, it’s people’s health.
EK: When I appointed Dr. Reilly as spokesperson on health I said to him – James this is not an appointment for GPs you are now speaking for people all over the country not just doctors
MF: They still existed when he was doing that deal
EK: Yes they did and he fought his case when he was elected to speak for the doctors as he should, he’s now elected to speak for the people and that’s what he’s doing
This exchange tells us a very simple fact about practically all Irish politicians – Principles are conditional.
If you’re negotiating an obnoxiously greedy deal for doctors, principles can be discarded. If you’re health spokesman for Fine Gael the discarded principles can be cynically re-instated to pursue a political objective.
For Irish politicians principles are merely a means to an end, they are not an end in themselves. They are there to be manipulated and abused for political and/or monetary advantage
Kenny’s response also indicates a serious lack of political savvy. If he and Dr. Reilly were to simply admit that the deal was wrong and apologise they would receive praise and the matter would be over and done with.
By continuing to defend the indefensible they are merely confirming that Fine Gael remains comfortable operating within the corrupt Irish political system.
Dr. James Reilly