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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 26, 2010 @ 11:41 am

    Geoghegan-Quinn: no comment whatsoever. Cowen: no opinion whatsoever

    Harry McGee


    If somebody ever asks you to define arrogance, just roll out the following incantation:

    “Well that’s a question that I’ve refused to comment on up to now and I will continue to refuse to comment on it.”

    The utterer: Maire Geoghegan-Quinn. Recipient of a Commissioner’s salary of €238,918. Supplemented by a Dáil and ministerial salary worth €108,000 in total.

    Unlike other former office holders (Mary Robinson, for example), she also declined to take a voluntary cut (of 20 per cent) in her pension like many did last year.

    Of course, legally, Geoghegan-Quinn is entitled to her pension.  But there is also a moral imperative that has persuaded many politicians, serving and retired, to forgo at least some of her pension.

    Her no comment last week was deeply out of kilter with the age, self-serving and in the ‘mé féin’ mould. She could at least have condescended to give us an explanation. The problem is that that would be akin to Pee Flynn as her only justification would be the cost of upkeeping four properties in Ireland, Spain, the US and in Luxembourg.

    What’s worse has been Brian Cowen’s reaction. Last week, it took two days for persistent opposition leaders and reporters to drag an opinion from him on Richie Boucher’s pension. And then his spokesman had the temerity to claim credit for Boucher’s acquiescence, and the statement saying he would stay on until he was 60.

    Now on Geoghegan Quinn he has excelled himself. When asked about it yesterday he delivered some verbal drivel about it being a matter for retired Oireachtas pensioners.

    Then he came out with this gem:

    “I do not want to get involved in particular issues. What I am saying is that the general point has been made by Oireachtas and office-holders already.”

    Wow. The non-comment comment.

    What a political wimp he has become. He owes Maire Geoghegan-Quinn nothing. In fact, she owes him big time.

    It just goes to show how inappropriate a moniker Biffo is.

    Bland Boring Brian may be a bit longer and not as catchy. But it’s far more accurate.

    * UPDATE 9pm: Well, Maire Geoghegan Quinn surprised us all and announced she was giving it up. She has a reputation for being stubborn. But also decisive. There was little pussy-footing today and a growing controversy, if not nipped in the bud, was certainly stemmed.

    The commissioner has political nous. What she certainly did not want was a situation developing early in the term when the predominant public perception of her at home was that she was a female Pee Flynn.

    Now, the attention must zero in on the 20 parliamentarians collecting minsterial pensions (albeit reduced) in addition to their salaries.

    • Kynos says:

      Expect much more of this from the Ivory Towers of Brussels . Can’t say ye weren’t warned. As some long-ago corrupt old blue-button mandarin said: “It is true that the Emperor is the most powerful being in the Universe, but what does that have to do with me? The mountains are high and the Emperor is far far away.” Go-Go Quinn is now a functionary in the nEU Versailles. It’ll take something a lot sharper than our comments to ever change that.

    • dealga says:

      Further evidence that there aren’t enough women in Irish politics… because… er… … they’d be, like, different and… wimmin and… stuff?…

    • Liam says:

      Pigs at the trough! it really is a case of “let them eat cake” . Has it started to be known as a “P moment” in honour of Flynn after his Late Late show incident?

    • Kynos says:

      Cowen’s a wimp. He just looks like a tough guy. Met him once and he hadn’t a word to say for himself when I demanded to know when would he stop betraying Ireland to cowardice inhumanity and rapine. Had to get some doll to stand up for him. I sent her packing with a flea in her ear. But as for him, I just felt the life force drain from my body. I think he’s got his own entropy zone. I’d like to go mano y cano with Dermo Ahern. Ideally in the ring but I’ve a feeling he prefers dark alleys.

    • kynos says:

      Have Fingers and Neary and Seanie and Goggin and all the rest like them similarly ‘earned’ their pensions?

    • Let’s call him Bongo, after he bounces around the place like a rubber ball but does nothing of any consequence.

    • Clare says:

      Well said. We all know that legally she’s entitled to it, but there’s been very little discussion of her moral responsibilities. How are she represent me in Europe!

    • film nerd says:

      Dealga: Seriously? I couldn’t help noticing there’s another “Dealga” to be found elsewhere in the politics blog using the Maire Geoghan Quinn pension debacle as a good illustration of how more women in politics isn’t a good thing. I’m just impressed that someone who seems to have time travelled from 1955 knows how to use the comment section………..

    • JM says:

      I dont think that ” moral imperative” exists.
      Politicans et al have been shamed into giving up a token of their “earnings”.
      Every politican gives up the illusion of morality the first time they have had their palms greased.
      As for Cowen,its no surprise he is staying out of this one- he knows how lucky he is to still be walking around with his head connected to his shoulders!
      Spineless he may be but a BIG BRASS NECK has he!!
      kind regards

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      It’s such a shame that Lenny can’t change the law to stop these pensiosn being paid to politicans and senior public officials – I mean he’s have to be a member of the government to be able to change the law …. ohhh yeah …

      Of course Go Go Quinn would have the atttitude she has – why wouldn’t she given her background. She’s just one of many people above a certain level in the public sector; be they a judge, the President, a department official or a former or serving TD, who get all manner of pensions and perks – the overlapping levels of salaries and expenses and allowances and pensions these people get is astounding and not a single thing has been done – by any party it must be said – to gut them all.

      Not a word from Enda Kenny or Eamon Gilmore about it – of course they can’t say anything as their glass house would crash in on top of them.

    • Peig Richards says:

      All FF, true definition of arrogance…Does Cowen look like he has a conscience, giving a woman a job who is already in receipt of 2 pensions?

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Oh look newsflash! She is giving up two of the pensions ‘while’ she is a commissioner and then will claim them again – so does that mean she doesn’t take the pensions, the way Des O’Malley and Bobby Molloy did when they claimed to have ‘given’ theirs up, they forgot to mention that what actually happened was that when they did claim them they were back dated to when they would have started anyway.

      So GoGo will instead get a lump sum of about €1m when she does finish up in 5 years time!

      You couldn’t make it up and people are so thick and have their heads so far up their own you know what, that it is a credible statement to make that ‘Brian Lenihan is intelligent’ and that there are people who think he is going to be better than Cowen – this is the man who refuses to take any action to stop people above a certain grade taking their fair share of pain for the mess they actually caused, yet lectures others who took no part in creating the mess on accepting cuts dictated to them.

      How bad do things need to get for Irish people to express some anger – enough anger that the government cannot continue in office and a general election takes place.

    • Clodagh OC says:

      Cowen’s the first politician in the history of the State to have held all four of the most senior posts in government – foreign affairs, finance, tánaiste and taoiseach. Can anyone pin down a single significant achievement/ decision of his while in office. His civil war partisan approach to politics centers around rallying the tribal troops while keeping the head down and staying out of trouble. Remember this is the guy who told Enda Kenny he was neither qualified or able but like all bullies he resorts to whimpering waffle when cornered.

    • marks says:

      Moral and FF do not sit in the same sentence together…or the same page, volume or library.

      Biffo has shown himself to be totally inept time and again, Leader? the only decision he needs to make for the good of the country is to call an election.

      Do It now Brian Coward and do it democratically, before it’s done by Coup.
      The FF trough grovellers will push too far one day and the lazy, apathetic nature of the populace will eventually rise. 80 odd years maybe rather than 800 years a grovelling.
      Cue the rising lion scene for Battleship Potemkin.
      La Belle dame Sans Merci

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