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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 22, 2010 @ 11:49 am

    An unremarkable recovery and a remarkable outburst

    Harry McGee


    A little more on the poll. I don’t know if the word stoic can be transferred to a political body. But in a sense all the political parties have remained stoic in the face of all the dramatic events of the past four months. The swings up and down are all within the margin of error.

    Fianna Fail’s figures show that the party can no longer rely on the traditional core. Public servants who provided a bulwark of its support have migrated to Labour and Fine Gael. Some older voters who deserted FF at the time of the medical cards fiasco have not returned.

    I have no doubt that the party’s fortunes will recover as the economy recovers. But its support levels has sagged so much that at the present moment in time its future looks all behind it. Three words come to mind: Fine Gael 2002.

    Not that Fine Gael can crow all that much. Sure, it’s floating higher now but still doesn’t look like it is sweeping all before it. Enda Kenny’s appearance on the Late Late didn’t help. What was wrong? The body language, that unfortunate smile at the end of each answer; the quality of answers.  Ryan Tubridy was tougher than I expected him to be but he’s no Sean O’Rourke or Richard Crowley. At this stage of his career, as a putative Taoiseach, Kenny should be stronger.

    I also believe that the adjustment used for support possibly favours Labour a little bit, with the contrary effect for Fianna Fail. The high level of opinon poll support Labour enjoyed last year was not fully reflected in the local or European elections.

    Now to the second big political story of the day.

    The remarkable outburst referred to in the title was that of Martin Cullen’s, who was speaking at a seminar on defamation yesterday

    My colleague Paul Cullen has written the story here.

    It’s clear that the relentless pursuit of him over a false story had a terrible impact on him and his family. You can understand that, given that, he’s not a great fan of the media nor of the new Defamation Act.

    If his sons got the daylights beaten out of them, that is terrible. The only comment of his that I’d take issue with is his description that it was like getting raped every day. I’m sure it was very hurtful to have to listen to such upsetting and baseless allegations. But to say it was like being raped every day was not the best comparison.

    • Liam says:

      God forbid that a politician would expess himself without putting it through the spin cycle first. If its true that a reporter took advantage of one of his kids to gain entry to his house, I think he can use whatever language he wants to express his anger or fustration.

    • Tom Cosgrave says:

      This is a great result for the conservative Civil War parties. It is unlikely that FF and FG would form a coalition because of petty differences in their broadly similar economic outlooks, and so it can be taken as read that there will not be much fundamental structural change in the Irish political system for years if this result bears fruit in a general election.

      Ireland is at serious risk of continued political stagnation, despite the huge political upheaval of the past 2 or 3 years.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      It is hard to believe Cullen’s choice of words especially in the light of the release of various reports, Ryan and Murphy and such. Bertie exhorts people to take their own lives simply because they take a different view of the economy while Cullen views media intrusion as rape. If what Cullen has said happened did happen then it was wrong, but we have only his word for it at this point and unfortunately for him his word isn’t worth a whole lot after all he termed those opposed to the e-voting system he signed the purchase approval as being Luddite while he, someone with no background in the making of anything apparently knew it all.

    • Jonathan says:

      I can’t believe the whole eruption over Martin Cullen.
      I don’t have any time for him at all – I think he is an extremely incompetent minister and should probably been fired ages ago.
      I also don’t really understand the point of his speech – it seems to me to be self-pitying and self-serving in the extreme.
      But there are some people in this country who just don’t miss any opportunity to be sanctimonious. Levels of righteous indignation here are deafening.
      It might have been an unfortunate choice of words, but he used it as a figure of speech, and so what?
      Taken to its logical conclusion, you could say that you are not allowed to use the word poison unless you’ve been poisoned, or you can’t use the word murder unless you’ve been murdered.
      Maybe we should all just get a grip.

    • Kynos says:

      STOIC??? Implying that the brain dead vegetables and the crooks who control them have any kind of philosophy is a bit extreme Harry. I’d suggest that they simply don’t give a toss about the events of the past four fourteen and twenty four months. Why should they? They’re getting their ministerial salaries and golden pensions and when the country collapses in flames it’s off to Sandy Lane for them all. No consequences. No accountabilty. No moral fibre. What a parcel of rogues for a Nation.

    • Niall says:

      I’m no fan of Cullen, but in this case, he was the victim. His kids and wife were victims. If he felt that it was like being raped every day, then nobody should object to him saying as much. I have no right to tell the man how he should feel.

      I suspect, and that’s all I can do in this situation, that his experience, horrible as it may have been, was not as difficult an experience as rape would have been. But then again, how exactly does one compare experiences like torture, assault or rape? There’s no doubt that if you’re the victim of one of these crimes, it’s often hard to imagine anything any worse. If Cullen feels that a comparison to rape is the best way to express how he felt, then, rather than criticise him, perhaps the media might instead ponder the circumstances that would lead somebody to feel that way. There’s no benefit to comparing miserable experiences, but there might be some benefit to a little self reflection on the part of newspaper editors.

      I don’t want any panic laws that might stop investigative journalism that is in the public interest, but invasions of an individual’s private life should be guarded against.

    • john says:

      the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result,so i say,keep voting in the same clowns,that should show them

    • Eoin says:

      Did Martin Cullen inform the Gardai of the events that took place during and after the Leech defamation trial?

      Just a question.

    • Richard Curtin says:

      Im completely in agreement with Tom Cosgrave on this one. No matter what the crisis in Ireland one of the two will be the most popular party. interesting how they are pretty much the exact same, with the same policies, same opinions, same insults directed at the opposite (same) when in opposition.

      For many years now I have imagined an Irish body politic that was based on the following:
      FFG: a merger between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael as they have no ideological differences i.e. no ideology;
      Left: Labour;
      Right: PD’s (not including FFG) as ideology present.
      Nationalist: Sinn Fein, Old Workers Party.

      When FG crashed in 2002 I was very excited and hopeful that my idea could form. All that needed to happen was for FF to get bashed at the next election aswell as FG staying very low. But oh no, it was not to be. To be honest, I think the main culpability lies with…youll never guess…Labour.

      Theyve given too much lifelines to FG throughout their history and especially in the last two elections. the thing is, Labour dont want to be the 2nd biggest party in the country or even the biggest. Too much responsibility ya see, because when your in power you need to act and ya cant just moan about things from the nice comfy benches of the oppostion. Also I think they feel themselves as the representatives of the public workers of Ireland, not all the workers of Ireland. Therefore a minor coalition role is much preferable, always leaving the option of bringing down the government when things are lookin bad in the media.

      On this note, I must applaud the Greens for being the exact opposite to Labour. For having the courage to enter into government with toxic FF so as to implement green policies and enact major environmental reforms and also for not taking the very Labour strategy of collapsing the coalition in the face of a difficult budget.

      Richard Curtin

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