Learning the first rule

The lifting by Fine Gael TD Terence Flanagan of parts of a speech written by Labour TD Joan Burton was an amusing incident with a dark side (Six One News, 14th item)

Flanagan is of a new generation so it is disturbing to observe that he has already learned the first rule of Irish politics – Lie through your teeth unless you’re caught red handed.

Gift token rip off

Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar has just published a survey that reveals details of the latest scam in rip off Ireland (Drivetime, 8th Feb).

Apparently, businesses are benefiting by up to €40 million per year by imposing restrictions and charges on gift tokens.

Many tokens expire after a year but some, like Ryanair, expire after just six months.

Others have service charges. Easons will ‘generously’ accept tokens for a year but thereafter imposes a charge of €2 for every month the token remains unused.

Transaction charges, ranging from €2 to €4, are another popular method of extracting ‘free’ money from consumers.

Terms and conditions are not always printed on the cards, a situation that can result in unpleasant surprises and even embarrassment for consumers.

Call from Enda

Enda Kenny phoned me today in response to the post below.

The conversation was amiable but not very productive. He assured me that while I was entitled to my opinion Fine Gael was going to do things their way.

I explained my position and the core philosophy of this website – that Ireland as a country is a corrupt entity and that nothing much would change until the body politic recognised and acted on that fact.

I genuinely believe he didn’t really hear a word I said.

Fine Gael: Back to the depths of spineless opposition

The Fine Gael policy of attacking Taoiseach Bertie Ahern while he was out of the country is a perfectly legitimate and intelligent political strategy.

It is certainly more legitimate than the Government’s undemocratic attempt to enforce a news blackout on the continuing scandal surrounding Ahern’s fantasy finances.

In addition to putting Ahern under more pressure to tell the truth the strategy exposed our Prime Minister on the world stage for what he is, a man of low ethical standards.

As part of their strategy, Fine Gael had indicated that they intended lodging a complaint with the Standards in Public Office Commission concerning Ahern’s tax affairs.

Such a strategy, if courageously followed through, could have had the effect of getting rid of this low grade politician and thus make Ireland a better place.

Unfortunately, Fine Gael flunked it; they dropped the strategy like a hot potato when Fianna Fail made the hilarious charge that the strategy was treasonous. Here’s what Mary O’Rourke had to say on Newstalk 106 yesterday:

“Can I say about Enda Kenny, I cannot believe that a leader of a very proud party called Fine Gael committed such a disloyal treasonous act.”

(Attacking the Taoiseach while he was abroad).

So who is Mary O’Rourke?

She’s a long time servant of Fianna Fail, the most corrupt political party in Ireland; a party that Oliver Cromwell would have been proud to serve such is its record of damage to the interests of the Irish people.

She’s a loyal supporter of Charlie Haughey, the most corrupt and disloyal politician in Irish history, a man who dumped her brother, Brian Lenihan, out of office in an effort to keep himself in power and a man who robbed a fund collected to finance an operation to save her brother’s life

She’s the politician who recently, bored with proceedings in our national parliament, skived off to do a bit of shopping. On the way she was approached by eleven desperate women who told her of the trauma they were suffering because of our Third World health system. She probable told them to eat cake.

In other words, Mary O’Rourke is a typically arrogant, incompetent and unaccountable Irish politician.

There were some signs since the election in May that Fine Gael had finally got its act together, that at last it was going to perform like a real opposition. Uncompromising attacks on the low standards and incompetence of this government made by Leo Varadkar and James Reilly gave rise to some hope that things were about to change.

Depressingly, it is not to be.

Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd was on Morning Ireland (2nd item) this morning leading a full scale retreat from the high ground of political accountability back down to the depths of spineless opposition.

He point blankly refused to discuss the party’s cowardly decision to defer the complaint to SIPO concerning Ahern’s tax affairs until the Taoiseach returns to the country next week.

Copy to:

Fianna Fail
Fine Gael
Mary O’Rourke
Fergus O’Dowd

Sunshine for the politicians; shade for the peasants

Prof. Drumm must be sick, sick that he accepted the job as chief executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE). Sick that he allowed himself to be duped into taking the job of reforming a heath system that has become an uncontrollable monster. Sick to witness the very people responsible for creating that monster; turn on him like a pack of vicious wolves.

For decades, Irish politicians were in charge of the health service and for decades they did what Irish politicians do best, used it as a means of buying votes. It was ‘jobs for the boys’ and to hell with the consequences.

There was a time when there were only two or three health boards but because every politician wanted a board in his area this number mushroomed into eleven. Imagine, eleven health boards to organise health facilities for about three million people.

This meant that there was eleven separate, grotesquely overstaffed, administrations choking the system to death and literally putting lives in danger. When the situation began to get out of control it was decided to abolish all eleven boards and replace them with a single authority that would bring reform, efficiency and, most importantly, a good health service to the Irish people.

To achieve this laudable aim job cuts would have to be made, work practices would have to change; civil servants would have to move, efficiencies would have to be made, some jobs would even have to be lost. In a nutshell, politicians would have to show courageous leadership and civil servants would have to cooperate.

This, of course, never happened. Instead, the cowardly politicians pretended to abolish the boards, it was all done – on paper. Not a single civil servant lost his job, nobody moved, there were no rationalisations or efficiencies. Everybody was still entitled to guaranteed promotions, guaranteed wage rises, guaranteed benchmarking – for life.

In effect, all that happened was the creation of a new twelfth health board. This was the mother of all health boards, it was going to supervise the inefficiencies and incompetence of all the other boards and for that it required and got a super bloated layer of administration staff.

From that moment, the grotesque monster was rampaging out of control and Irish citizens began to suffer even more, and at times, die. But the cowardly politicians had covered themselves well. In a by now common strategy, the HSE and in particular its chief executive was used as a buffer to distance cowardly politicians from the mess they had created. Mary Harney, the alleged Minister for Health, frequently suggests that the latest scandal is a matter for the HSE, nothing to do with her.

It must have been sickening for Prof. Drumm to listen to the wolf pack as they set about their work of abdicating responsibility in our national parliament yesterday; it was certainly vomit inducing for me. Here’s a flavour of what the cowardly incompetents had to say: (Full report on Drivetime, 3rd item)

Labour TD, Joan Burton spoke about the lack of trust that the public and politicians had in the HSE, about how impossible it was for politicians to get answers. No mention of political culpability.

Fianna Fail TD, Mary O’Rourke who has been in politics for decades, who has held several senior positions in government, who is a member of the party that has held power for more years than any other party, who, by dint of her cowardice, is one of the principal architects of the present mess, was ruthless in her condemnation of the HSE and in particular Prof. Drumm.

She related how she had recently left a boring session in the Dail to take a walk down to Brown Thomas. On the way she met eleven women all with horror stories about friends and relations affected by cancer.

Think about that, an Irish politician leaves our national parliament suffering from boredom, meets several distressed citizens and is incapable of making a connection between the two events. She then demonstrates a complete lack of intelligence by using the event to bolster her attack on Prof. Drumm as if it was he, rather than her that was responsible for their distress.

Fine Gael TD, John O’Mahony from Mayo spoke with the typical narrow minded parochialism, the hypocritical ‘but’ factor that Olivia O’Leary (Drivetime) spoke about. “I’m all in favour of centres of excellence” ‘but’ my constituency should keep its facilities.

Labour TD, Liz McManus spoke of the need for the establishment of a patient’s safety authority. Yet another layer of bureaucracy staffed by self serving unaccountable civil servants.

Fianna Fail TD, Margaret Conlon, amazingly, spoke the truth with clarity. “We cannot talk out of both sides of our mouths; we need to ensure that our resources are not spread too widely and too thinly because if this is the case, everyone loses.” Cleary, Ms. Conlon is a new TD and has yet to learn the mafia traditions of her chosen party.

Fianna Fail TD, Beverly Flynn would make an excellent tutor of those mafia traditions. A politician with no reputation to lose, daughter of a disgraced politician who had no scruples about cheating on his taxes and operating illegal offshore accounts, took the same narrow minded and hypocritical view as Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony.

Progressive Democrats TD and Minister for Health (without responsibility), Mary Harney, mouthed the standard and by now insulting apology to the victims.

Mary O’Rourke spoke about a dawn that is always promised but never actually dawns, that she was in despair over the health services.

Why would she be in despair? She exists in the unaccountable, grotesquely overpaid and arrogant world of Irish politics. She, like most of her colleagues, do not have the courage to actually do anything about the situation.

She only encounters reality when she wanders out of the rarefied world of our useless and boring parliament, she will never find herself in the situation of the eleven distressed women she met, she will never have to worry about a lack of medical facilities for herself or her family.

Her dawn and that of her colleagues arrived years ago when they created a system that provides constant sunshine for themselves, family and friends but leaves a large percentage of the people they claim to represent in the shade and some of them – condemned to the ultimate darkness.

Copy of this post to:

Prof. Drumm
Mary Harney, TD
Joan Burton, TD
Mary O’Rourke, TD
John O’Mahony, TD
Liz McManus, TD
Margaret Conlon, TD
Beverly Flynn, TD
Fianna Fail Party
Fine Gael Party
Labour Party
Progressive Democrats Party
Green Party

'Lucky' Councillor

Fine Gael councillor, Frank Kilbride was shocked, not because he had just overturned his car while being chased by Gardai. No, Frank was shocked at the outrageous suggestion that he was drunk while driving.

“Do you know who I am, you can’t do me for drink driving”

he sternly warned the forces of law and order.

But what about the strong smell of alcohol from the good Councillors breath?

That smell wasn’t from my breath, it came from a bottle of wine that broke and somehow spilled over me after I crashed while being chased by Gardai at 2.50 in the morning.

What about refusing to provide a urine sample or allow a blood sample to be taken and what about your non cooperation with the Gardai on the matter?

Can you prove that allegation?

Well, no, because somehow, somebody made a technical error in the wording of the charge, making it inadmissible.

Do you consider yourself lucky, Cllr?

Lucky that I live in a country where the law is a joke?

Well, yes, but also lucky that you didn’t have to take time off from your important work as a councillor to attend somebody’s funeral.

Still waiting for courageous leadership

With few exceptions, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cowardice are the hallmarks of Irish political life.

In today’s Irish Examiner, Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny accuses Bertie Ahern’s cabinet colleagues of cowardice because they will not stand up and say that what he (Bertie) did was wrong.

Before the election Kenny and Rabbitte scurried for cover when polls indicated that Irish citizens were not bothered by the low ethical standards of their Prime Minister.

Pat Rabbitte made his position crystal clear. (1st question)

“I asked some tough questions on the Bertiegate affair and I was down five points in the polls and Mr. Ahern went up five. In politics, especially coming up to a general election, you tend to learn lessons from that.”

In common with the majority of Irish politicians, Kenny and Rabbitte have not the slightest notion of what it is be a leader. It is not, as they seem to think, to slavishly follow the crowd, to pander to the lowest common denominator.

It is to state clearly where you stand, especially on the question of ethics in government and stand by that position no matter what the polls say.

Courageous leaders will attempt to persuade citizens that honest and visionary leadership will ultimately produce a fair society.

Eighty five years of independence and we’re still waiting for that courageous and visionary leadership.

Manipulating democracy

Every self respecting democracy in the world operates under the rule of law. Electoral law is particularly important because it is based on the authority of the people. Any interference, any sly manipulation of such law seriously dilutes the quality of that democratic authority.

Stephen Collins, political editor of the Irish Times, explained on RTEs News at One (4th item) yesterday how Irish politicians have been breaking the law for years by supervising how councillors are voting in Seanad elections.

This illegal activity is to make sure that the councillors are voting according to deals worked out between the political parties.

The United Nations frequently sends teams of inspectors to emerging democracies around the world to ensure that such vote tampering does not occur; Irish politicians are often invited to join these inspection teams.

They must feel odd to find themselves strictly enforcing electoral laws that they have been openly flouting themselves for years.

Depressing sleaze

Many of the callers to Liveline today (Monday) were depressed as well as angry by the outcome of the Beverly Flynn/RTE scandal. They seemed genuinely puzzled that yet again a politician has got off the hook for wrongdoing.

Later on, on Questions and Answers, there was even more depression when Alan Shatter of Fine Gael received high praise from Willie O’Dea for his strong defence of Flynn.

Shatter claimed that Flynn was the victim of a lynch mob; that people were getting over excited about the whole event and that she should be allowed to get on with her life.

He was pure Fianna Fail on tax evasion when he trotted out the ridiculous argument that all the banks were at it at the time.

The only real passion/anger on the show came from Willie O’Dea when he strongly attacked Eamonn McCann for suggesting that Fianna Fail supported tax evasion.

How could anyone even suggest such a thing?