Politics »

  • Let’s not get heebie-jeebies over the Hijab

    July 25, 2008 @ 11:53 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Two days ago I visited St Luke’s Hospital in south Dublin for a check-up. Last year I had radiation therapy there for prostate cancer and, thanks to the excellent treatment I got, the tumour seems to have disappeared. I say “seems” because you still need to see your specialist every few months, “to be sure, to be sure”. (more…)

  • Karadzic: master of disguise

    July 23, 2008 @ 3:56 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Radovan Karadzic sure knows how to work up a disguise. The beard is the secret as it softens that sharp jaw-line which is one of his distinctive features. I attended a press conference he gave in Moscow when I was stationed there for The Irish Times back in early 1994. He was accompanied by a Russian ultra-nationalist bogeyman, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a big name at the time but now largely forgotten. (more…)

  • Call to ban sale of cigarettes by 2025 makes sense

    July 19, 2008 @ 2:16 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Talking with some friends last night about the political outlook, we agreed one of Fine Gael’s problems is that it hasn’t got the same firepower at the front line as in the party’s glory days of Garret FitzGerald, Alan Dukes, John Kelly, et al. Avril Doyle was another who came to mind. A member of the Belton clan, which has had a prominent role in Irish affairs over the years, she is an able politician and formidable in debate.  (more…)

  • Cowen and the vision thing

    @ 10:26 am | by Harry McGee

    I happened to be looking through the Fianna Fail manifesto this week. I’d say that well over half of the promises made will be as empty as the Government coffers.

    More school buildings – don’t think so…

    Decrease in taxes – absolutely not.

    Extravagant promises to improve health services – they have collapsed and are now on an emergency drip with np prospect of recovery.


    Cowen – and you’ll remember he did all the running during the election campaign – gave himseld a get-out clause. In his own strangled language all of this was predicated on growth of 4.5 per cent going forward.

    To give him his due, he said that NDP infrastructure projects would be prioritised in the event of a downturn.

    The opposition isn’t really in a position to crow. They all made big gestural promises too. I wonder would Fine Gael’s generous stamp duty package really have prevented the property market crash or have made the whallop feel even more painful.

    It’s clear from speeches that Cowen has made since becoming Taoiseach that he has been keen to push an image of a thoughtful, visionary statesman (his speech about redefining Ireland’s relationship with the US is a case in point.  He has a reputation for caution, of a politicician-manager.

    This is the point that I am making. Even if he wants to break out of that, to  come up with novel solution, he finds himself hamstrung by his circumstances.

    Sadly, unlucky general that he is, it has proved impossible for him to lift the gloom surrounding the economy.

    It’s already obvious why he would have preferred to have waited another year to get the captain’s hat and avoid all the blame for the ship with hole in the hull, that’slisting badly to oneside and, to use the lingo of the business world, facing a challenging sinking-fast scenario.

  • Cowen in New York but with Lisbon on his mind

    July 16, 2008 @ 11:22 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    New York: Brian Cowen did not seem particularly put out by the remark attributed to France’s President Sarkozy that Ireland needs to have a second vote on the Lisbon Treaty. The Taoiseach arrived here last night for a series of engagements, mainly to do with business, the economy and investment.   (more…)

  • FF looks forward to post-tribunal Ireland

    July 14, 2008 @ 9:10 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    It would appear that Fianna Fáil has used the cover of the economic crisis to achieve a longheld political ambition: putting an end to the tribunals. At last week’s Cabinet meeting it was decided that all payments to tribunal lawyers would cease when the public hearings came to an end. (more…)

  • Sarky Sarko

    @ 2:11 pm | by Harry McGee

    Way back in early 2000 Brian Cowen was made Minister for Foreign Affairs. I was editing Magill at the time and wrote a long profile, with Damian Corless, about Cowen (yep, Fianna Fail’s dauphin as the French might say).

    A friend of his, a sharp-witted Labour politician, mocked him kindly. In a general comment about his social habit and dress sense, he said, yes, there have been times when Brian has spoken in the Dáil sporting a tie that had been dipped in a pint of porter the night before.


  • Political funerals – an Irish art form

    July 12, 2008 @ 11:47 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The positive side of Irish politics was on view at the emotional farewell to the late Séamus Brennan. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, the Greens - they were all there to say goodbye to someone whose engaging personality transcended political barriers. Such was the crowd at the church that it looked at one point as if even Bertie Ahern and Brian Lenihan were going to have to stand throughout the ceremony. (more…)

  • We’re all off on our summer holidays

    July 11, 2008 @ 1:26 pm | by Harry McGee

    It must be terribly hard for TDs and Senators. Being bundled like that out of the public eye for the whole summer. We all felt so sorry for them yesterday, to see them look so obviously glum and heavy-hearted as they nosed their BMWs out of the gates of Leinster House and headed off for ten weeks of idleness. They will be deprived of work and will have nothing to do to occupy thier time between now and September 24. It’s a hard station, we know. But (deep mournful intake of breath) it’s the life they have chosen.

    My own first week working as a specialist political journalist was in August 2003. Arriving to work in Leinster House was like a GAA correspondent being assigned to Croke Park the Tuesday after an All Ireland football final. The political atmosphere was as spent as the PDs. We still had a paper to fill. It was thankless. Scrounging around for stories. Hoping that the odd TD playing golf at Playa de Nouveau Riche or at their Atlantic-hugging holiday home might have bothered to leave their mobiles on. (more…)

  • Abortion on the internet revives an old controversy

    @ 10:01 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    As a morning-radio addict, I find it often has a soporific effect and helps me go back to sleep before the inevitable moment when the day must start. But I nearly jumped out of bed when the BBC’s Today programme reported that medications which induce an abortion can now be obtained on the internet. (more…)

  • Seamus Brennan

    July 9, 2008 @ 2:38 pm | by Harry McGee

    Seamus Brennan came up with one of the best summations for Bertie Ahern, when Ahern was Fianna Fail chief whip at a time the party was riven by splits and sulphorous enmities.

    “As chief whip, Bertie Ahern learned to come down the white line and take both sides of the street with him. I don’t know how he got away with it.” (more…)

  • Bad Day in the Life of Two Brians

    @ 9:37 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Brian Cowen has two political modes: combative and perfunctory. When in combat mode, he is invincible, smiting the foe to the left and to the right of him. Whether it goes down well on television is a moot point, but he clearly revels in the heat of battle. (more…)

  • Lady Bracknell and the Lisbon Treaty

    July 8, 2008 @ 9:17 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    My late and much-missed Irish Times colleague Dick Walsh wrote a very useful and interesting book about Fianna Fail, entitled The Party. His father had been a founder-member and throughout his life Dick was fascinated by the Soldiers of Destiny. Over the years they developed characteristics that Dick found distasteful, yet they kept on getting elected again and again and again. As he points out in his book, the very people who had opposed the establishment of the Free State by force of arms went on to take over its institutions and remould them in their own image. FF has now been in power for 23 out of the past 30 years and their bottoms have only occasionally warmed the opposition benches over the past three-quarters of a century. (more…)

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