Politics »

  • Death in the Mediterranean

    May 31, 2010 @ 10:01 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Some time ago I wrote a blog-post here on Victimhood. It’s the really-effective way to achieve your aims in a political struggle. Now the Israelis have bestowed victimhood on the Gaza blockade-busters and the political fall-out for Israel is going to be very negative by the looks of things.


  • It really does Mater for Joe

    May 28, 2010 @ 4:13 pm | by Harry McGee

    Every Friday without fail, late in the afternoon, an email drops into our mailboxes with a headline that goes something like this.


  • Time to Tackle Drugs Problem in New Ways

    May 26, 2010 @ 12:32 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The reports of a major international drugs bust are impressive testimony to excellent police work and international coordination. But we need to tackle this problem in more than one way.


  • Byelections are bye bye elections

    May 25, 2010 @ 11:12 am | by Harry McGee

    In his column on Saturday, this paper’s political editor Stephen Collins outlined (using many historical examples) why there is an, ahem, certain reluctance on the part of the Government to call any of the three byelections in a hurry. He also argued that the precedent shows that the more you delay the more you are damaged. (more…)

  • RTE has no comment for RTE

    @ 9:42 am | by Mary Minihan

    Just a quick one. My colleague Harry McGee has been leading the charge in covering the ongoing story of the IRFU’s public spat with Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan over rugby TV rights, and I bow to his superior knowledge on the topic!

    But something I half-heard on radio at the weekend while pottering around at home stuck in my head. I’ve only just got a chance to listen back online to confirm I heard correctly. “RTE declined to comment so we don’t know their view on this.” Grand. Or it would be, if that line hadn’t been broadcast on RTE. (In a package presented by an excellent reporter on the always-interesting This Week programme on Sunday, to be precise.)

    The issue is: who has the right to decide whether the rights for matches can be sold to SKY or another subscription channel or to terrestrial broadcasters RTE, TV3 or TG4. It wasn’t quite clear if RTE had no comment in relation to the matter in general, or to a specific issue raised by a TV3 executive.

    Either way, RTE has no comment for RTE. So, RTE isn’t speaking to itself?

    Did that strike anyone else as strange?

  • Inventor Who Changed Our Relationship With Money

    May 24, 2010 @ 10:32 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Next time you’re withdrawing cash from an ATM, spare a thought for John Shepherd-Barron who is one of those credited (no pun intended) with inventing the device. (more…)

  • The Man Who Can’t Stay Quiet

    May 22, 2010 @ 2:44 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Journos miss Michael McDowell for one very simple reason: he was a constant source of interesting copy. A colleague said McD “never had an unpublished thought” and, whatever one thought of his politics, he livened up the scene in news terms. Here is his latest pronouncement as reported in today’s paper:- (more…)

  • Oval and Out – ‘fraid not

    May 21, 2010 @ 9:48 am | by Harry McGee

    Sorry, couldn’t resist the sad pun.

    We return to the row between the IRFU and Eamon Ryan.


  • If it’s not broke, don’t question it

    May 18, 2010 @ 12:00 pm | by Harry McGee

    Around now the IRFU is hosting a press conference about televised rugby.

    Gerry Thornley has written a well-researched and well-argued think piece in the paper this morning arguing that the status quo should be retained.


  • The Power of Victimhood

    @ 10:17 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún
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    There is another Right to Work demo tonight at Leinster House. You can bet the Gardaí and other security personnel will be more prepared this time. The aggro last week was small beer compared to what has been happening in Greece or Thailand but clearly there are a few protesters who want to leave aside the speechifying and get into serious confrontation with the State.


  • Brian Cowen: An Innocent Abroad

    May 14, 2010 @ 11:41 am | by Harry McGee

    Brian Cowen delivered a defence of his time as Minister for Finance last night that was longer than many of Samuel Beckett’s later plays.

    Running at over 7,000 words, you can’t accuse it of being shy of verbiage. If you want to read the entire opus, you will find it here. If you want a good abridged version, whittled down to about 1,500 words,  see page 7 of today’s Irish Times (or read it here) (more…)

  • Last night’s skirmish at Leinster House

    May 12, 2010 @ 11:43 am | by Harry McGee
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    I had to laugh when I listened to Richard Boyd-Barrett on Morning Ireland when he tried to imply that the small group of protesters who tried to force their way into Leinster House’s plinth last night did so innocently. (more…)

  • Can Fianna Fail save its own skin?

    May 11, 2010 @ 1:58 am | by Mary Minihan

    The extraordinary events unfolding within the Labour Party in Britain have got me thinking about what the next general election here might mean for Fianna Fail.

    When it comes to elections, expected wipe-outs don’t always happen and predicted surges don’t always materialise. Assumptions can be confounded.

    Transport Minister Noel Dempsey was reported at the weekend as saying anyone who believed the outcome of the next election was decided already was fooling themselves. He pointed to the not-quite-clear result in Britain to back up his argument.

    I think he meant that as the Tories didn’t do quite as well as lots of people thought they might, Fine Gael and Labour should be wary of taking the voters’ support for granted.

    But the opinion polls make consistently chilling reading for the Fianna Fail faithful, and the party’s activist base and structures in the cities, in particular, have weakened beyond recognition in recent years.

    Is it possible to bounce back from such a low point? Two former ministers, Gerard Collins and Chris Flood, have been quietly compiling a detailed internal report with the unspectacular title ‘Recommendations for Organisational Reform’. I’ve written about it here: http://bit.ly/dhMBPT

    It doesn’t make any crazy claims for success. Much of it is concerned with administrative detail that a worker for any party would probably consider practical. It prescribes modest, city-specific measures to improve organisation in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. But it has the tone of an organisation that has not yet given up the ghost.

    In summary, the report proposes the immediate establishment of a “Dublin reorganisation implementation group”. One of its key tasks would be preparing for the Dublin mayoral election.

    All registered members in the Dublin area would have a right to “one-member, one-vote” participation in the selection of the party’s mayoral candidate. An electoral register of members should be devised for the process, “thereby creating the opportunity to clarify and quantify the actual extent of party membership . . . across the entire Dublin Euro constituency”. While the party may feel it has little chance of success in this particular contest, that could be a way of readying what remain of the troops in Dublin for future campaigns.

    Many of the party’s city-based cumainn exist only to hold voting rights at candidate selection conventions. The report says if responsibility for candidate selection was devolved to individual activists under the “one-member, one-vote” system, the phenomena of “paper cummain” would be eliminated. This seems sensible.

    Each Dublin constituency should hold one fundraiser every year with proceeds going to headquarters and Fianna Fail TDs not intending to contest the next general election in Dublin constituencies should inform the party immediately. We are living in unpredictable times, after all…

    But who could give you an objective analysis of what all this might achieve in a general election situation? You could predict the responses you’d get from Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Fein personnel.

    So let’s ask Independent TD Joe Behan, who left Fianna Fail over medical card cuts last year but retains a deep knowledge of the party’s culture, for his view of what the next general election could entail for the senior coalition partner.

    “Other parties know in their heart of hearts that this isn’t going to be as easy as it looks. I think it’ll be the mother of all battles when the time comes,” Behan says.

    He disputes widespread predictions the party will be wiped out. “I’d be slow to write off Fianna Fail because I know the loyalty there is among the real activists who still support the party no matter what,” he said.

    Fianna Fail must not only reform and improve its internal organisation, he says, it must also “restore its link with the plain people of Ireland”.

  • We All Lose It Sometimes

    May 10, 2010 @ 10:35 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Why do I get the feeling that Adam Boulton and Alastair Campbell don’t really like each other?

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  • Lessons from the British elections

    May 7, 2010 @ 12:21 pm | by Harry McGee

    1. There will be a reassessment of the power of television and social networking. Clegg was the big winner in the television debates, yet the Lib Dems have lost seats! One of the telling factors was a recent poll which showed that 40 per cent of voters had not yet made up their minds. (more…)

  • The guys who want to take the politics out of politics

    May 5, 2010 @ 2:25 am | by Mary Minihan

    Turning now to the somewhat geeky topic of technical groups in the Dáil, I have fond memories of the launch of the so-called ‘Finian’s Rainbow’ back in 2002. Less kind commentators dubbed the 22-deputy delegation ‘Green Féin’, which ignored the contribution of Independents to the group.

    Someone once described the Independent as “the guy who wants to take politics out of politics”. It’s not so, of course. The late Tony Gregory was the group’s whip and Michael Lowry was also in that loose federation. Needless to say, it was a tactical rather than an ideological arrangement.

    Those who elected the 29th Dail were more generous to Independents than those who put the 30th Dail in position. In 2002, 10 Independents and the then Socialist deputy Joe Higgins (now an MEP, he’s no longer a deputy – still definitely a Socialist!) were able to band together with six Greens and five Sinn Féin members to acquire speaking rights and other privileges.

    If I remember correctly the launch took place on a warm, sunny day on the plinth outside Leinster House, although when I check the record it happened in October. (I was reporting for Newstalk in those days.) The Green Party representatives were quizzed about going into a type of alliance with Sinn Fein. Again, if my memory serves me right, a smiling John Gormley, then party chairman, shrugged and said: “That’s democracy”.

    But back to Independents. Finian McGrath told me recently he was “very disappointed” with the situation in relation to limited speaking time for Independents in the Chamber at the moment. If he was thinking about renewing his rainbow, McGrath could perhaps count on the four Sinn Fein deputies and maybe Gregory’s replacement, Maureen O’Sullivan. But that makes six and a technical group needs seven. Former Fianna Fail deputy Joe Behan has ruled himself out of such an arrangement. The other Independent TDs in the Dail vote routinely with the Government.

    McGrath has called on Independents to “hold their nerve” following the “defection”, as he sees it, from the ranks of Independents of former Progressive Democrats TD Mae Sexton. Currently a councillor, she will contest the next General Election in Longford-Westmeath on the ticket with sitting Labour TD Willie Penrose.

    The former Progressive Democrats leader Des O’Malley made a provocative contribution at an interesting event hosted by the Parliamentary Society of former Oireachtas members, which I reported on in January. Pressures of space in the newspaper prevented me from quoting much of O’Malley’s contribution at that time but I’d like to do so now.

    To put his remarks in context, he argued the formation of new political parties was an essential component of a dynamic democratic system. If it became difficult to start and maintain new parties, democracy in a country would decline. The real impediment to the emergence and survival of new parties was the dispersion of public funds, which was based almost entirely on past electoral performance.

    “It is significant that once Independents are elected they are quite generously looked after. Each of them is entitled to a so-called ‘party leader’s allowance’ of €41,000. They are free to employ close relatives at public expense as a further subsidy. There is no incentive to start a party, even where there are other deputies of like mind. Their constituency needs are often given priority,” O’Malley said.

    And then came the killer line: “It is state-sponsored parochialism.”

  • Ní Bheidh a Leithéid Arís Ann

    May 2, 2010 @ 8:44 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    It was a pity the late Gerry Ryan never did political programmes. He was intelligent and well-educated but with a good sense also of where the ordinary punter was coming from. What did Kipling say? To walk with kings nor lose the common touch.


    Gerry Ryan 1956-2010 (Photograph by Cyril Byrne)


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