Politics »

  • Who’d be on your fantasy Taoiseach’s 11?

    April 29, 2011 @ 9:15 am | by Mary Minihan

    Thanks to the Government’s large majority, Taoiseach Enda Kenny could afford to do things a little differently when it comes to appointing his nominees to the Seanad. Traditionally, former TDs who failed to make the grade at the general election are among those who get the nod, but people like Deirdre Clune and Michael Darcy are already Senators.

    Independent TD Finian McGrath made an interesting suggestion recently, when he called on Mr Kenny to consider Orla Tinsley, journalist and campaigner for better cystic fibrosis treatment and care facilities.

    “People like Orla Tinsley have done much work on cystic fibrosis so the Taoiseach might consider nominating her as one of the 11 nominees to the Seanad. That would enable a voice in here for cystic fibrosis patients,” Mr McGrath told the Dail last week.

    It’s an interesting ‘outside the box’ suggestion. Let me know who’d be on your fantasy list of Taoiseach’s nominees and I’ll list the top 11.

  • Politics podcast: April 26th

    April 26, 2011 @ 4:12 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Harry McGee discusses Brian Lenihan’s criticism of the ECB in the run-up to the bailout, the calls for yet another banking inquiry and the Seanad elections

    icon for podpress  Standard Podcast [10:18m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download
  • Sellafield: should we be concerned?

    April 18, 2011 @ 9:21 am | by Mary Minihan

    Presidential hopeful and Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness voiced concerns about the Sellafield reprocessing plant during a recent European Parliament debate on nuclear safety in the aftermath of the Japanese disaster.


  • Quiet Rhythm of the Rubber Stamp

    April 14, 2011 @ 10:42 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    After 14 years in opposition, the Fine Gael and Labour parties are imbued with reforming zeal. One has seen this phenomenon before but the important thing is to get the alterations and improvements in place  before the “system” takes over and the whirr of change is replaced by the quiet rhythm of the rubber stamp.

  • Crying need for Public Sector reform

    April 12, 2011 @ 10:58 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    I’ve no time for those who routinely bash the public sector which has done this country proud in many ways, but clearly reforms are needed – quite shocking that, as Eddie Molloy said on the Pat Kenny show this morning, out of 82 senior civil service jobs advertised externally, only one was filled by an outside candidate, who was a former civil servant anyway.

  • Labour achieving Dev’s vision?

    April 11, 2011 @ 6:52 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Labour was the cutting edge of the new Coalition in the last 24 hours. We had Pat Rabbitte, Joan Burton, Ruairi Quinn and Brendan Howlin all emphasising the need for stringency and there was a particular emphasis on the importance of real change under the terms of the Croke Park public sector pay and reform agreement.


  • Bill Gates thanks European taxpayers for their generosity

    @ 8:50 am | by Mary Minihan

    THE GENEROSITY of European taxpayers towards poorer countries was praised in Strasbourg last week by celebrity visitor Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and one of the richest men in the world.

    Mr Gates had not come to talk about bailouts, however, but rather the distribution of funds in the form of development aid to the third world. He spoke in glowing terms of the “phenomenal commitment” of many European member states, but was much less complementary about the approach of his homeland.

    “It’s absolutely fair to say that the United States is not exemplary in the scale of its foreign aid,” he said.

    America funded much scientific work into diseases, and was “the largest AIDs donor, the largest malaria donor”, but was only spending about a third of what it should spend in percentage terms.

    “And I certainly do everything I can to push for that to increase. There was a commitment to double it in the campaign but its clear today that not only won’t it get doubled but we’re fighting for it not to get cut.”

    He told the European Parliament’s development committee that the majority of all aid that goes to poor countries comes from Europe, and said he wanted to thank voters for their generosity.

    But he stressed the necessity to “get the word out” about successful aid programmes, “because there’s a lot of the people who vote, whose taxes fund these things, that don’t really understand the incredibly positive things that their generosity is allowing”.

    Mr Gates and his wife Belinda have established a charitable foundation, focused in part on tackling disease through vaccinations in developing countries, which he believe shared some goals with the European Parliament.

    He said private philanthropy had a special role and should be encouraged, but it currently contributed less than two per cent of the total given to poor countries.

    Mr Gates said he always knew some of his money would be misused and he tried to make sure that was less than five per cent. “Anybody tells you they have an aid programme that has no corruption, they are not measuring what’s going on.”

    Those hoping Mr Gates might offer advice in solving the problems of the Eurozone’s economic crisis would have gone home disappointed, however. “I wish I had some great advice. It’s a very tricky problem in terms of instilling confidence while knowing some bills are so large you don’t want to be responsible for them.”

    Mr Gates was quizzed by MEPs from across Europe about all sorts of contentious issues, including population control. He said his foundation was involved in providing reproductive health supplies, such as implants, that women could use on a voluntary basis. Some anti-AIDs programmes, such as a sex worker programme in India, promoted the use of condoms, “so that a women would protect herself and not die of AIDs”.

    “My wife is Catholic,” Mr Gates revealed, “we’re not involved in abortion; we’re not involved in sterilisation. We believe that women should be healthy and be able to have as many children as they want to.”

    One of the most striking things, to these Irish eyes at least, about the interior of the vast European Parliament chamber is the number of women MEPs. Thirty-five per cent of members are women, compared to our Dail’s 15 per cent.

    Sisterly spirit did not prevent a former TD, Independent MEP Marian Harkin, taking a cut at fellow Irishwoman Catherine Day, secretary general of the European Commission, who described the EU-IMF bailout as “tough but sustainable” on a recent visit to Ireland. Responding critically in the European Parliament chamber, Ms Harkin insisted Ms Day was “wrong”, asking: “How is a small island of 4.4 million people supposed to cope with this madness?”

    Another one of the Dail’s ‘old girls’, Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, this week encountered a problem faced by many an Irish person abroad when she was asked to reduce the speed at which she talked. The translators were having difficulty keeping up with her, the chairwoman of the Commissioner’s question session explained. Ms Geoghegan-Quinn apologised. “This happens all the time,” she admitted.

  • Barack, the Queen and ‘Croker’

    April 10, 2011 @ 5:32 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    In now looks as if Barack Obama may be going to Croke Park, a few days after the visit by Queen Elizabeth. Fascinating: there is talk of having a mass rally in honour of the US President. That would feed into his re-election campaign in a very interesting way.


  • Phil Lynott’s Politics

    April 8, 2011 @ 3:27 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Actually, I have no idea what Philo’s politics were, this is just an excuse to recommend a visit to the exhibition in his honour currently running at the Stephen’s Green shopping centre: http://www.hotpress.com/philiplynott/info.html


  • Politics podcast: April 8th

    @ 9:27 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    This week, following Constable Ronan Kerr’s murder in Co Tyrone, we look at its effects on North-South relations, we preview the upcoming visits of the Queen and Barack Obama – but first Opposition criticism over the bank bailout.

    icon for podpress  Standard Podcast [3:54m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download
  • Sauce for the Goose . . .

    April 7, 2011 @ 8:58 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Like most right-thinking people, I am utterly appalled at the sentiments contained in the recording allegedly made in a Garda car. By the same token, I am appalled at the sentiments expressed in certain stand-up “comedy” performances on issues such as the Holocaust. Yet for some people, the latter seems to be excusable . . .

  • An Idea that is Getting Traction

    @ 12:29 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Referendum on the bail-out is an idea that appears to be getting traction. Seems the United Left Alliance is divided on it: Joe Higgins unenthusiastic, Richard Boyd Barrett very keen, as are  some of the right-0f-centre independents such as Shane Ross. But can the mass of the people understand an issue as complex as this?

  • Who’s for the Park?

    April 5, 2011 @ 10:52 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    When it comes to the next President, we are spoilt for choice. The latest names to surface as possible candidates are Pat Cox and Jackie Healy-Rae. Add those to Senator David Norris, Fergus Finlay, Michael D. Higgins, Emily O’Reilly, Mairead McGuinness, Brian Crowley, Senator Mary White … there must be more, but my head is spinning already!

  • He was 12 years old when the Omagh bomb took place

    April 4, 2011 @ 10:01 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The killing of the PSNI officer, Ronan Kerr, is a tragic development. Aged only 25 years, he would have been about 12 when the infamous Omagh bombing took place, causing a massive death toll which affected both sides of the community and included people from republican families in the town of Omagh and its environs.


  • The essence of politics is…timing

    April 1, 2011 @ 9:46 am | by Mary Minihan

    Former British Labour MP Chris Mullin, probably best known here as the tenacious campaigner who exposed the miscarriage of justice inflicted on the Birmingham Six, delivered a humorous talk in Dublin earlier this week. He said while most politicians fight one election too many, he got out of politics early – “when people were still asking ‘why?’ rather than ‘when’?” (more…)

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