Green Party: Heads still firmly stuck in the sand when it comes to corruption

Green Party Leader and Minister for the Environment; John Gormley had the following to say when asked about being a watchdog in government (RTE News, including audio and visual at bottom of page).

“We never assigned ourselves that role because it’s a role which you cannot fulfill properly and do your work as well. We’re not the moral watchdog of any political party…we look after our probity and our standards…we cannot be responsible for events that took place before our entry into government.”

This principle is still as bizarre as it was when first adopted by the Green Party as an excuse not to act against the chancer Bertie Ahern. Challenging and bringing to account those suspected of corruption is a crucial role for all members of a real democratic government.

Sticking your head in the sand and saying, ‘we’re just going to look after our probity and standards’ is mealy mouthed and cowardly and is a betrayal of basic democratic principles.

Green Party chairman, Dan Boyle, warned that Ireland cannot progress as a nation until those responsible for recent events are imprisoned – So, that’s it, no more progression.

On the plus side for the Greens. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Trevor Sargent, is travelling to Paris for St. Patrick’s Day. He’s flying Aer Lingus, not using any (road) transport at taxpayer’s expense and saving on an expensive hotel room by staying at the embassy.

Obviously, his Excellency, Martin Cullen couldn’t be expected to endure such deprivation but other ministers should be encouraged to follow Sargent’s good example.

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Green Party

If in doubt – Trust Brian

There was an interesting debate on the Lisbon Treaty referendum recently between Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan and veteran UK Labour politician Tony Benn (Today with Pat Kenny, 19th May).

In a concise, articulate and intelligent manner Benn made very good arguments for voting no. His biggest worry is that the EU is evolving into a federal state that will be controlled by bureaucrats. That scenario will lead to disaster according to Benn and will inevitably result in the breakup of the union and a return to violent nationalism.

Benn won the debate hands down. Lenihan could only make the pathetic, and totally untrue, claim that Irish people were real Europeans while UK citizens were anti Europe.

At all times during the debate Lenihan was respectful and reasonable during the debate. He was a completely different animal when he participated in a debate with Patricia McKenna on last week’s Saturday View.

The debate started off with Lenihan making his case without intervention from McKenna. Rodney Rice, the presenter, read out a number of calls from listeners who were very strong No voters and asked Lenihan to respond.

“It’s very, very disturbing for this country. I actually have read the treaty but of course I’m a lawyer and you wouldn’t expect people to be able to read the treaty, it’s not fair for them.”

This arrogant and patronizing statement is in itself enough reason for any self respecting citizen to vote no.

Lenihan goes on;

“We’re going to send out a very negative signal about ourselves as a people. We’re going to fold our tent and say no. Retreat into isolationism and in my view damage ourselves as a country. That’s the choice facing the people and this glib argument that ‘I don’t quite understand what’s at stake so I better vote no is a very dangerous argument’… We’re all equal in this referendum; we’re all in that driving seat. It’s not good enough to say you can’t see the road and therefore you’re going to get off it.”

Retreat into isolation and damage ourselves as a country? Is this an honest assessment of the consequences of a No vote? Lenihan’s other point is simple – voter ignorance of the issues involved should not act as a bar against a Yes vote.

Patricia McKenna got only one sentence out in reply before she was angrily and intolerantly attacked by Lenihan.

So what did McKenna say that so upset Lenihan? Did she perhaps suggest that a Yes vote would see the return of Hitler? Did she suggest that a Yes vote would see the end of European civilisation? No, she merely stated that Brian Lenihan was trying to sell the treaty to the Irish people. Here’s Lenihan’s outburst.

“Sorry, I’m not trying to sell anything. I object to that, I’m trying to explain something of fundamental importance for this country and you start off by saying I’m trying to sell something. You’re entitled to your point of view absolutely but I don’t think it should be put down I’m trying to sell something. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m actually trying to explain to the people the issues at stake.”

So let’s be clear about this. Brian Lenihan is not trying to sell the treaty; he’s a humble lawyer/politician who cares about his people, he’s a man who has been gifted with the intelligence to understand very complicated issues and is eager that this great intelligence should be used to relive the great mass of peasantry from having to grapple with such technical issues.

Effectively, Lenihan, a member of the most corrupt and dishonest political party in the country is asking the people to trust him.

Greens: How high do you want us to jump Bertie?

It really is incredible that RTE has yet to realise the gravity of what happened at the Mahon Tribunal last week. The station seems to be completely oblivious to the fact that a sitting Taoiseach has apparently lied.

Even if we allow that the station is ultra conservative; that it is cautious to the point of panic in case it offends its political masters, it still doesn’t explain why the most important and serious political event in decades is being effectively ignored by the broadcaster.

There has, of course, been plenty of peripheral discussion surrounding the fact that the Taoiseach apparently lied under oath but no mention of perjury, alleged perjury or possible perjury, not even an explanation of what perjury is – Nothing.

Saturday View serves as a good example of how frightened RTE is of facing the reality of the situation (My comments are in brackets).

Politicians on the panel were Fianna Fail TD, oops; I mean Green Party TD, Mary White and Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar.

The RTE presenter, Rodney Rice started off by moaning,

“Once again we cannot avoid examining the Taoiseach’s travails.”

His first couple of questions left listeners in no doubt that RTEs policy of studiously ignoring the reality of the situation was going to continue.

White was asked the totally irrelevant question – Were the Greens forced into making comment on Ahern? This was followed up by an even less relevant question to Varadkar – why haven’t we heard from your leader (Enda Kenny)?

Varadkar – to his credit, wasn’t going to be sidetracked.

“It’s not good enough (for the Taoiseach) to give clarification, the Taoiseach swore an oath in the tribunal that the monies lodged in his building society account were salary cheques and swore on oath that he never dealt in sterling.”

Rice quickly jumped to the Taoiseach’s defence.

“But the one place he can do that again is back in the tribunal and he will do that presumably.

(The obvious question here is; how many times does the Taoiseach have to apparently lie before RTE accepts the reality?)

Varadkar – “What he can do, perhaps for the first time, is come in and tell people the truth… The fact is he swore under oath at the tribunal that the money was salary cheques and he didn’t deal in sterling so he has to come into the Dail now and admit that he perjured himself in the tribunal.”

(No doubt in Varadkar’s mind as to what has occurred).

“If he does not do that then anything he says in the Dail has to be unacceptable and I want to know from the Greens…if what he says in the Dail contradicts what he said under sworn oath in the tribunal will that be acceptable to the Green Party?”

White – “Mahon was set up by all parties and we shouldn’t prejudge it and while revelations coming out are certainly getting up people’s noses around the countryside we will await the outcome of the Mahon Tribunal.”

(Pure Fianna Fail speak).

Varadkar – If it’s still your view that we have to wait until the tribunal makes its report what is the purpose of asking the Taoiseach to make a statement?

White – “Well, I think when Ms. Carruth appeared at the tribunal I think the level was lifted up about public interest in the tribunal…and a little bit of clarification would be no harm at this stage…in any coalition it’s good now and again to clear the air and that was the reason for the intervention.”

(So for the Greens this has nothing to do with a Taoiseach lying, nothing to do with ethics in public office, nothing to do with the truth. It’s all about ‘a bit of clarification’, to placate those pesky citizens who are jumping up and down, demanding accountability).

Varadkar – “It’s becoming increasingly clear that what the Taoiseach has said in the tribunal and what he said in the Dail and what he said to the public hasn’t been true.” “There are things that we can be certain of that are separate from the tribunal. We can be certain that the Taoiseach is a liar.”

Rice – (Intervention). “Well, now that’s un-parliamentary language. You would be asked to withdraw that in the Dail so why don’t you withdraw it here and be polite.”

(Clearly, RTE has adopted the truth avoiding strategy so successfully employed in our National Parliament – You can say what you like but straight talking is forbidden).

Varadkar – “I won’t because it’s the truth.”

Rice – “Why won’t you be polite?”

(About the serious matter of a Taoiseach lying under oath).

Varadkar – “Because it’s the truth.”

Rice – “He (Ahern) has said some things that you regard as contradictory and which may or may not be irreconcilable.”

(The evidence is incontrovertible – Ahern’s words are on record under oath, Carruth’s words are on record under oath and the tribunal has produced signed bank receipts that confirms both of them are liars).

Varadkar – “He said he never dealt in sterling, he said he didn’t have any bank accounts, he said that he consulted the tax authorities on his affairs. None of these things are true. If you want me to rephrase I’ll rephrase in parliamentary language; peddling untruths. He’s been peddling untruths; he’s a fraud, he hasn’t paid his taxes and he’s a thief.”

(Again, no ambiguity here).

Rice – “So you want him to go.”

Varadkar – “Of course, if those things are not red lines, what are red lines?”

Rice asks White – “What do you need?”(From Ahern).

White – “We’re not going to grandstand and jump up and down and wave green flags and we’re not going to prejudge what the Taoiseach of our country is going to say on Wednesday. We will listen.”

(Yes, Mary, and when you’re done listening, Ahern will instruct you and your party to jump and the only question remaining will be – How high Bertie, how high do you want us to jump?)

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Mary White
Leo Varadkar
Green Party
Fianna Fail
RTE (Saturday View)

Fianna Fail clones

Fianna Fail must be very happy with the situation they have created for themselves. While they enjoy all the benefits of power they have Fianna Fail clones, formerly Green Party TDs, to go out and deal with all the unpopular issues.

Mary White, alleged deputy leader of the Green Party, did a fine job on Saturday View parroting Mary Hanafin’s excuses for breaking promises on class sizes (See here).

White told us that while she was passionate about reducing class sizes unfortunately, there had been a ‘slight slippage’ in the economy and therefore the promised reduction in class sizes would not be met this year.

White made great play about her business background, suggesting that she knew more about complicated economic issues than hard pressed parents.

The issue, however, is not complicated at all. The Greens have enthusiastically adopted the traditional Fianna Fail policy of making ruthless cuts against the neediest in society when there is even a hint of ‘a slippage’ in the economy.

It’s incredible to consider that while Fianna Fail took decades to evolve into a ruthless, self-serving political party, the Greens have slipped effortlessly into the same role in a few months.

Recently, the spokesman for the Greens on education, Paul Gogarty, said in the Dail that he was ashamed and embarrassed at the Government’s commitment to education.

Mary White should also be ashamed and embarrassed but somehow I doubt that she is.

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Green Party
Mary White

Government in hiding

What emerged at the Mahon Tribunal yesterday would cause a major political crisis in a functional democracy. In Ireland, not a single Government Minister or representative, to my knowledge, featured on the national airwaves to tell the people what was going on. All we got was wall to wall talk between journalists.

Morning Ireland – Journalist Brian Dowling. No public representative

Today with Pat Kenny – Journalist Fergal Keane and Michael Clifford. Defence Minister, Willie O’Dea was on talking about Irish troops going to Chad and was only briefly asked about the tribunal.

News at One – Journalist John Kilraine – No public representative.

Drivetime – Journalists Fergal Keane, Brian Dowling, Harry McGee, Justine McCarthy, Terry Prone and Noel Whelan – No public representative.

Six One News – Journalist John Kilraine and Brian Dowling – No public representative.

Nine News – Journalist Brian Dowling – No public representative.

Primetime – Journalists Michael Clifford and Sam Smyth – No public representative.

The Late Debate – Journalists Fionn Sheehan and Fergal Keane. At last, in the middle of the night, two lightweight politicians, Fianna Fail TD Frank Fahy and Fine Gael Senator Eugene O’Regan.

Perhaps they’ll come out of hiding over the weekend.

Bozo and Borgs

It really is fascinating to observe how quickly Green Party politicians have been assimilated Borg like into the dodgy world of Fianna Fail double speak.

Green Party TD Paul Gogarty speaking on The Late Debate (Tuesday, 12 Feb) was in no doubt about who was responsible for keeping an eye on the murky activities of Fianna Fail.

It’s the electorate who are the moral guardians of Fianna Fail, nothing to do with us.

A caller to the show asked: Who is that clown from the Greens?

Gogarty helpfully replied – “Bozo is my middle name.”

Bertie the bomb

It has been obvious for some time now that Bertie Ahern has something to hide. Nobody with an ounce of intelligence, with the possible exception of Martin Mansergh, could believe otherwise,

But Bertie’s High Court strategy can have only one meaning – It can only mean that he has something really big to hide, something so big that he is willing to risk everything on one roll of the High Court dice.

Meanwhile, the Greens continue to insist that the bomb ticking away beside them is none of their concern. It’s a personal matter for Bertie, it’s a matter for his lawyers; it’s a matter for the tribunal.

They’re unlikely to survive the explosion.

Greens: Still on the road to destruction

Fianna Fail does not do ethics, they do not do integrity; they have no interest in accountability or honesty in politics – Pursuit of power is all.

Any politician or political party that agrees to share power with Fianna Fail must accept that reality and behave accordingly.

The PDs under Mary Harney had no problem in accepting the reality and quickly dumped their much vaunted political integrity. In return they were rewarded with all the trappings of power for many years.

The Greens are finding it much more difficult to reconcile their long standing and genuine reputation for political integrity with the strong stench emanating from their senior partner in Government.

Essentially what they are attempting to do is put the issue of political corruption to one side while they get on with implementing their policies. Such a bizarre strategy, even in a dysfunctional and corrupt democracy like Ireland, is doomed to failure.

Sooner rather than later the Greens will be forced to deal with political corruption or adopt the PD strategy of accepting the disease as a normal part of Irish public life.

On yesterday’s Today with Pat Kenny, Patricia McKenna desperately and unconvincingly tried to avoid the reality facing her party.

While accepting that Ahern had to go she was adamant that it was up to Fianna Fail to do the dirty work; that her party had too much to lose by getting involved.

They had sacrificed a lot of credibility by getting into bed with Fianna Fail and it was unfair that they should be made scapegoats for something that Fianna Fail is responsible for.

I wrote before that the Greens are on the road to destruction, McKenna’s performance has done nothing to change that view.

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Fianna Fail
Patricia McKenna

Rock hard necks

Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, when asked about (2nd item) the heavy burden of water charges on schools said he would be encouraging them to save water and thus reduce their bills.

Unfortunately, it was an EU law and had nothing to do with him.

When it was suggested that perhaps he could ease the burden on schools by persuading his cabinet colleagues to increase capitation grants he replied.

That’s a matter for the Dept. of Education, nothing to do with me.

The Minister was in Bali preaching to the entire Western world about their gross dereliction of duty in failing to reduce greenhouse gases.

Only Irish politicians are born with such rock hard necks

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.

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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