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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 29, 2011 @ 9:15 am

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

    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.

    • James Mccarthy says:

      Trevor Seargeant, Laura McGonigle.

    • Mary Minihan says:

      By twitter, @TalentCoop suggests @gtcost (Constantin Gurdgiev), @elainebyrne, @davidmcw (David McWilliams) @declanganley @PaulSommerville…and herself!

    • robespierre says:

      I’d like some anti-EU voices like Robert Ballagh or Tony Cronin along with other voices from the Arts. Either someone that has expressed social activism through their work like Roddy Doyle or a more cerebral voice like that of John Banville or even Paul Durcan.

      I would also like to see people that represent civil society but not people already on bodies like the council of state. Perhaps a voice representing senior citizens (other than the many senior citizens already in the Dáil), one representing the disabled (mentally or physically challenged) and one representing the socially excluded.

      In the hope that Senator Norris becomes our next President, I would like to see someone like John O’Shea appointed.

      Finally, I hope that someone that has a genuine stake in helping to tackle the national obesity problem can be brought into the Dáil. They could be a retired sportsperson or indeed somebody like Oisin McConville that works in sport and has played at a high level.

    • jaygee says:

      When the News Poll was going strong there were some great contributors who
      impressed by the depth of their knowledge and interest in Irish and world affairs.
      Any half dozen of them would be fitting nominations. For starters I would nominate
      John O’Driscoll from Co. Cavan. who used the title Kynos.

    • Declan says:

      Fr Peter McVerry, Fergus Finlay, someone to represent the Irish abroad, Bob Geldof, Diarmuid Ferriter, a representative of minority religions & nationalities, a nominee from Aosdana, Adi Roche, Bernadette McAlliskey, Anne Maria Dennison (or whoever the current head of ICWA)..

    • jaygee, News poll? What was that? I recall kynos from around here but I’m not aware of anywhere else. I’d like to see the party avoid populating the Seanad with yes men and women, and I’d think we need more focus on the practicalities of electoral and political reform beyond simply abolishing the Seanad for the sake of it. I’m holding no torch for the Seanad but its abolition should be part of something more not simply an end in itself. I’ll have a think and post a few names over the weekend,

    • I think John O’Shea should stay with Manchester United

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      I’d like to think my own application to be appointed was being given the same consideration as those from partry cronies and others are – if Kenny is to have any credibility about changing things (and the omens so far are not good that he has the guts to deliver the scale of change Ireland needs …. but it’s early days so see how things stand by the end of the year) and I think there should be a Green or two appointed for the sake of decent politics but next generation Greens.

      I’d like a list of people who no one has ever heard of actually – lots of ‘ordinary’ people – as opposed to the masters of the universe of all sectors who think they are God’s gift to their chosen area and who rarely are.

      A few housewives, parents of special needs children and some older people over 60 would be good.

    • EK says:

      I’d love a bunch of FG time-servers and trade union bosses to be gifted a job worth about €600,000 over 5 years with literally no responsibility or accountability. And a few randomers so that we can pretend it’s a NEW ERA.

    • Desmond, I would expect that both our applications are weighing very heavily indeed on the minds of all those with a view to express to An Taoiseach as to who should be appointed. :-)

      I’d appoint a Green, while I would think it would be more effective to appoint someone like Trevor Sargent or Dan Boyle, they could skip the previous Oireachtas members and instead appoint someone like Brian Meany from Clare, or a previous election candidate like Simon Herbert. They mainly need someone with organizational skills that would serve in rebuilding the capacity of the party to fight an election rather than simply winning a seat themselves next time out.

      Someone from the SDLP and either the UUP or the Alliance party

      Someone like Chris Horn if he was likely to be available to contribute to debates would be useful.
      I’d want to see someone who has some connection with the Diaspora but it would seem strangely impractical to adopt someone from the likes of the US who would either have to move back entirely or else get involved in a very arduous commute.

      Someone from one of the various patients advocacy groups though I think the specific suggestion of Orna Tinsley was simply unnecessary and unhelpful stirring on the part of Finian McGrath.

      There might even be meriting in doing something quite original with the appointment of someone who undertakes to serve for only one year to highlight or contribute to a specific debate agenda before standing down to be replaced by someone one who would similarly serve for one year.

    • a.commenter says:

      @ 8 &10 if it’s not an indelicate question who nominated either of you…
      As for the term ‘housewives’ it should remain in the 1950′s where it belongs…mind you it speaks volumes about your understanding of gender politics…Such arrogance!

    • Russell says:

      I am wondering whether being appointed by Kenny is something desireable, given his statements regarding the uselessness of the Senate in its current form. Also, in light of the fact that the government have a majority in the Senate without the additional 11 members, surely it would be best if Enda simply refuses to appoint anyone.

      If he were to do this he would be making it clear that he has no wish to see the Senate carry on its current incarnation. He would also be saving the taxpayer over €500,000 per annum for many years (especially when you take the pensions and expenses in to account).

      €500,000 per year could help fund a new school, hospital wing, special needs teachers, an increase (however small) to the old age pension, a community out reach scheme, or any other program that would be much more beneficial to our society than 11 overpaid useless politicians who have no real power, authority, responsibility or accountability.

      Once he has done that he could then look into legislation that would remove the ability for any former politician to receive more than one state pension, and any pension before they retire. Finally, in a move guaranteed to receive full support from the population in a referendum (if neded) he could reduce all public sector salaries (including pensions, bonuses and other benefits) to 90% of the Taoiseach’s salary.

    • John Delap says:

      Rosaleen McDonagh

    • Richard Barrett says:

      I agree with the idea of appointing someone who was on the old news poll, such as Kynos. I would also love to see the news poll brought back. I contributed as Richard Bouvet island – mind you, I myself am hardly senate material!

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      @11 – I nominated myself, I wrote to Enda Kenny’s office and provided a statement of why I was suitable to be added t obe the list of people he was considering. I am just as qualified as anyone else to be given a nomination.

      Doesn’t meant I’ll get it as who knows what agenda the Taoiseach has and I’m not sure he really is as committed to ‘change’ as he says as so far any effort to change things never really seals the deal and there is always some pretty weak compromise instead.

      Plus let’s not forget Enda Kenny doesn’t actually read emails or letters sent to him and all the information that gets to be read by him is filtered by about three or four people first.

      I’m qualified to post grad level, I have an intellectual job, I have political experience, I’m young, articulate, part of the Irish diaspora, I deal with a huge issue that affects every moment of my life but despite it, or because of it, I have still managed to achieve a lot.

      So there were a list of ten points a perfect Senator should be I’m sure I would tick enough boxes to be a serious contender.

      I’m not sitting by the phone waiting for the call from Enda Kenny’s office though :)

      If I was chosen though, I wouldn’t claim any expenses, the salary would be more than enough and any costs incurred for a support staff etc would be published with proof of the cost.

    • a.commenter says:

      @15 You might think that I couldn’t possibly comment…!
      It’s interesting that the person given so little credit for his ideas/conttributions to this blog is the one favoured by the readers, rather than the puffed up contributors who have used this blog to promote their own political pretensions…however even the ‘special one’ to coin a phrase could do with some schooling in the Politics of gender equality…

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      @16 – I dare say it’s actually you who needs to attend class on gender equality for your patronising sexist put down of housewives. The choice of a woman to work in the home is as valid as that of the woman who chooses to have a career and I find it is other women who pile on the pressure for a women to want it all – you can’t have it all. Men don’t make other men feel inferior for having a career and providing for their family and other men don’t do a guilt trip on men if they miss the school play etc, whereas I find it is other women who judge women most harshly.

      You imply the term ‘housewife’ is an insult – my mother (like most of her generation) was a housewife and that house didn’t run like clockwork by magic – it took her skill and drive to make sure it was clean, furnished, decorated, meals made, beds made, gardens done, dogs cared for, maintained etc etc etc.

      Shame you feel the need to belittle the skills involved in being a housewife or house husband.

    • a.commenter says:

      @17 Keep digging Des…
      Objecting to the term ‘housewife’ does not constitute ‘putting down’ or ‘patronising’ those who perform that role…However housework is menial repetitive and generally unpaid that’s why it is usually done by women… that’s why the tasks you describe are called ‘household chores’…
      It’s not work I would choose or find particularly rewarding…even if I was paid to do it…
      It defeats me why women do it…why those old enough to do so aren’t expected to clean up after themselves make their own beds etc etc it’s bad enough having to clean up after yourself…
      Why have a bloody family pet if the family aren’t going to look after it…
      Yes women could have it all if they didn’t have to spend so much times looking after other people doing jobs that those people could just as easily do themselves but don’t beacuse they are just too boring…!
      And of course then there’s the trade off i.e. women do those job in return for their keep…I can think of another word for it…If you want a clean up woman then PAY for one…!

    • a.commenter says:

      Btw Des I don’t ‘want it all’… not a ‘motherhood and apple pie’ kinda girl…and in case you thought the ‘special one’ tag referred to you…it didn’t!

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      @ 18/19 well I’m sorry you feel the need to hide behind a false name and that you place no value on the effort of a mother who stayed working in the home or of the difference it makes to a child to come home after school to a clean warm house with a meal ready for you and the presence of an adult who cares for you and is interested in putting aside some of their needs to provide for your needs – after all they chose to have children. Perhaps my parents are unusual in that from what I can see their marriage was one of equals.

      It’s good you don’t want it all because having it all is a myth and let’s see how those new Senators who are appointed cope with the demands of a role designed along the lines of a 19th century gentleman’s club – then again it’s unlikely 50% of those appointed will be women and those who are, no doubt will pay for childcare/house work to be done and in the process let their husbands/partners off the hook from adjusting their lives to do their 50% share of responsibility.

    • a.commenter says:

      Oh dear Des…
      I absolutely value the role played by mothers…I just don’t think the drudgery of cooking cleaning and walking the dog should fall to the woman of the house…women are so brilliant at multitasking…if a monetary value was put on the actual amount of work they do they would be paid more than CEO’s…What I don’t accept is all this emotional blackmail crap…women are the only people expected to work for love and affection…no value is placed on the work they do in the home…and the hours they work breach the working time regs…who else would work the hours women work for no pay and long hours…they are on call 24/7…Why do you think men prefer to go to work outside the home…because they couldn’t bear to be holed up all day with the demanding kids they CHOSE to have…I have always believed in and support/ed the Wages for Housework Campaign….do you…No…?Why not?
      I think your view of the role of women has a lot in common with those expressed by the Nazi’s….! And please STOP personalising the issue…there’s a good boy!

    • Dear A. Commenter: Is it not possible for you to disagree with somebody on the issue of women in the home without comparing your opponent’s views to Nazi ideology? Wouldn’t you think that’s a mild form of incitement … or maybe that is what you are about.

    • a.commenter says:

      I think it’s a valid comparison…I’m sure you’ve seen the Nazi propaganda posters/images of women in der fatherland…Incitement to what as a matter of interest…? Prefer women a little more passive/submissive do we…? If you got something valid to say say it otherwise don’t make fatuous comments…In any case I understood this was Mary’s post not yours…

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      @21 but there was me thinking a marriage/relationship was a partnership of equals who make a rational decision for one or other to work at home, based on their own personal circumstances, while the other went out to work and they shared their resources equally – the input of creating a home and making it a place in which to raise a family and enjoy living is worth as much as the input made into putting down a deposit and paying a mortgage for 75 years (which I believe is now the norm).

      I don’t believe my father got paid for all the extra hours he spent doing the gardening, walking the dog, hanging wallpaper, painting etc after doing a full day’s work – so I’m not sure why you think it’s only women whose extra work in the home isn’t renumerated but then again you seem to have a different idea of what creating a home is all about – I’m reminded of those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing …

      I thought valuing the role of a woman in the home equally was normal but apparently not and if there are 11 women appointed Senators – it will be other women judging them on what they wear and wondering who is looking after their housework or children – not much different to when Gay Byrne asked the same question on the Late Late Show all those years ago, except then it was men who were deemed ‘sexist pigs’, now it’s the women who are.

      I’d like to see my mother and many of her generation appointed to the Seanad, if it isn’t going to be me – and the irony is that my mother (and most women of her age) would be so efficient and organised she’d be able to do her housework and the ironing and still be a better Senator than 99% of those already there.

    • @23 What will you come out with next – all Nazis should be gassed?

    • Mick Sheehan says:

      Michael D Higgins

    • a.commenter says:

      Des
      Have you got an Oedipus complex?
      I’m sure your mother is a very lovely woman and your father a good decent man and unlike you reflects the mores of the time…
      Did anyone ever ask your mother if she might want to do something other than wait on you hand and foot…she might have split the atom or written a best seller…?
      It was watching my mother do precisely the same thing that made me decide that I wanted a little more out of life…!
      Women particularly Irish mammies make rods for their own backs and future generations of women by turning their sons into little demi-gods…
      Your comment about marriage/relationships is more reflective of modern relationships and quite different to the one your parents enjoyed…i.e. nowadays women are not ‘housewives’ of the 1950′s…
      As for the bitching about women by women well that goes on but most women are not feminists even with a small ‘f’ so adopt that bitchy attitude to other women…divide and rule…
      @25 Calm down dear…! anyone would think you were trying to start a row!

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      @27 – did I say you could call me Des – I don’t know you.

      How do you know my mother didn’t do all those – you just assumed she was ‘just’ a housewife and thereby seek to cheapen that part of her life ie you infer she is somehow inferior to those who make a perfectly valid choice not to be a housewife and perhaps live like a slob – if you have children then you’ll know that creating a suitable home within which to raise a child doesn’t happen by magic – it takes the efforts of both parents (were there are two) and that requires a choice, either consciously or not, in separating out who does what and if a woman feels she is being treated like a skivvy then somewhere along the way she made a decision to allow herself to be treated that way ie how often do we hear a woman moaning about having to do a full days work and still come home and do more work, well why isn’t her partner doing their share ‘if I don’t do itself it doesn’t get done blah blah blah’ – that’s a choice and not making the other person grow up and carry their weight is also a choice.

      So spare me the ‘I’m a woman and by ignoring housework I’m a better type of woman than a 70s/80s housewife’ rubbish.

      You should have a bit more respect for your mother and by the day my mother also made sure all her children were able to cook, clean and look after themselves perfectly well when they reached adulthood and now we’ve all reached different arrangements in our home lives where some have followed the traditional route and others have employed cleaners and childcare and others juggle it all between them – the point being we all made grown up choices how we manage our lives – just like our parents did within the context of their times ie if my mother did have to resign from her job on getting married she made the best of it and used her talents in a whole range of other areas she might never have had the chance to get involved in.

      If you were able to stop looking at the chip on your shoulder long enough you’d maybe see the benefits of being a stay at home parent.

      So back on topic – 11 housewives above the age of 60 would get this country back on its feet in no time and would be the first to tell the judges and senior levels of managers all across the public sector were to get off on their pay and pensions.

      You don’t mess with the women who shaned Pee Flynn and Ray Burke into paying their green fees when they waltzed onto the course thinking they owned the place. She’d have seen through the Seanie and Fingers of this world before they even got through the door.

    • mary says:

      Can we not get sidetracked by the ‘housewife’ issue and please return to suggestions for your fantasy Taoiseach’s 11? (I think we can all understand what Desmond meant when he suggested: “A few housewives, parents of special needs children and some older people over 60 would be good”.) Regards, Mary

    • a.commenter says:

      Looks like Edna didn’t want you either…eh Des?

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      @ 31 awwww bless – you were concerning for my feeliings. No, yet again it’s a double edged sword given as much as I’d like to in the Oireachtas, on the other hand I’d be quite disappointed in myself if I made it as it would mean I shared character traits with those there and no moral or honest person could feel good about that as moral and good people don’t make it to the Oireachtas – those who do are two types of people a) the type who lines their pocket or b) the type who doesn’t but doesn’t do a thing to stop those who are and turns a blind eye to it.

      Check out the amount of expenses claimed by TDs/Senators and try figure out how on earth any of them could possibly have genuinely incurred the expenses they claimed … it will pass a few enjoyable hours.

      For me alas I will have to revert to plan B or was that Z. My writing is getting worser and worser.


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