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.

Roche secures Ruairi Quinn's defection to Fianna Fail?

“In a vindictive farewell Dick Roche signed the go ahead for the M3 before being tossed out of office.”

This was how Rodney Rice introduced Saturday View. I agree with his comments but judging from other reactions it would seem that Dick Roche’s action has put him in line for sainthood.

The ex minister was interviewed on Today with Tom McGurk (Fri. 15th June) where he informed the nation of what a great minister he had been.

I’m a great man for making decisions; I made the decision on nitrates when others feared to act.

My colleagues agree that I put together a very effective programme on environment.

The second Nice Treaty referendum was a very complex and badly written document. I broke it down into its component parts so that ordinary people (the peasants, so to speak) could understand it. I could have ignored the very negative views on the ‘no’ side but I chose to deal with them up front.

I’m very pleased that there are only three lines in the policy document on local government reform that weren’t written by my hand (Did he go through the whole document to check?).

I did great work on the EU Constitution.

I drove the civil servants in my dept very hard but they responded very well. (Obviously, these civil servants were an unruly rabble when Roche became minister).

I did John Gormley some service by not passing the buck to him.

(Echoes of Haughey there).

Tom McGurk was very impressed, he sounded like a schoolgirl who had just met her favourite film star. He was on the verge of breaking down in an uncontrolled giggle of admiration. He didn’t ask for the great man’s autograph on air but I suspect he was favoured afterwards.

Later on things became even more surreal when Labour TD Ruairi Quinn was being interviewed and made comment on the Roche interview.

“Any citizen of this Republic listening to that dialogue this morning, there are very few countries in the world that I can envisage where you would have that open frank exchange between an office holder and interviewer and the rest of the Republic and I just thought it was wonderful radio. I’m very proud of this county.”

I fully expected him to break out with a rendition of Amhran na bhFiann and announce his defection to Fianna Fail.

It has to be election fatigue, it just has to be….