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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 8, 2012 @ 11:53 am

    Have they gone ‘star’ staring bonkers?

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    The silly season normally waits until the dog-days of August but it has come early this year. Incredibly, the main government party was planning a self-congratulatory event today in Merrion Square Park, close to Leinster House, to mark 12 months in government.

    It was to take the form of a photocall, and a press release issued last night said: “Fine Gael Deputies and Senators will hold coloured stars detailing significant Fine Gael achievements in Government.”

    Coloured stars! Aurora Borealis? Oh Enda, don’t let’s ask for the moon,we have the stars. Who cares if we’re in the gutter, when we can look at the Jameses, Bannon and  Reilly, waving stars. (Apologies to Bette Davis and Oscar Wilde.)

    Now, one could make an argument that the party does indeed have a number of  achievements to its credit. The main one, frankly, is Taoiseach Kenny’s demeanour. I’m quite serious: he always looks cheerful and upbeat, in contrast with the gloomy and despairing body-language  of the previous administration. If our leader can put on a brave front, then maybe things ain’t that bad.

    But the idea of  a government party “flaunting it” and “strutting their stuff” in the current situation, when masses of people are queuing up in tears to get jobs in faraway lands, was grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented (remember good old “gubu”?)

    Enter Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte of  Labour to stick the rapier into their midriff, which he did with his usual style and efficiency on the Morning Ireland radio show.

    Rabbitte, who had only just heard about the photocall, said the whole thing was “a bit silly” and expressed the hope “that they get over their excitement quickly”.

    The programme wasn’t even over when the FG press office issued an email to say that the self-backscratching gig (they didn’t call it that) was cancelled:

    It was presumed that the Labour Party would be planning an event, similar to the one scheduled by Fine Gael, to mark the Party’s first year in Government. When it was discovered that this was not the case, it was deemed inappropriate to proceed. Fine Gael and Labour are working hard in Government to get the country back on track.” 

    Someone in the upper reaches of the party clearly had a rush of blood to the head in the first place but was rapidly overruled by a panicky breakfast phone-call today.

    The relationship and interaction between politics and PR (as in Public Relations, not Proportional Representation) would make a good MA thesis. PR people need to realise that selling soap is not the same as selling “soft-soap”.

    Anyway, the FG ardfheis is coming up at the end of this month and what are such events about, if not self-congratulation, except for the Fianna Fail one last weekend which was an exercise in self-abnegation.

    A litte cri de coeur here: would party organisers at these events please ask their delegates to refrain from the practice of monotonous and predictable bursts of applause during the leader’s speech? It comes across as moronic, except when there is a proper point to be made as was the case with Micheál Martin’s apology for past mistakes got a standing ovation.

    Amusingly, at the last Sinn Fein ardfheis in Belfast, Gerry Adams appealed to the crowd in Irish to hold off on the clapping as it was cutting into the party’s precious allocation of airtime. His request was ignored, for the simple reason that many of the delegates clearly didn’t have enough of the teanga (language) even to understand Gerry’s Gaeilge bhriste (broken Irish).

    You have to admire, despite regular painful winces, Adams’s attempts to speak the First Official Language in the Dail. Gearóid really should take a crash-course from Pearse Doherty or Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh. Mind you, the holding of proceedings through Irish yesterday worked surprisingly well. It was good to hear the likes of Mattie McGrath speaking the cúpla focal (few words).

    • JOD says:

      Níl aon réiltín do pháistí dána.

    • Aisling Brady says:

      It is said that if we pay peanuts we get monkeys, in what currency then are we paying our overfed and underworked politicians when we get a bunch of puffed up peacocks who never miss a photo opportunity to strut their stuff.

    • Kath ryn Browne says:

      I’ve often heard the phrase “Vanity, thy name is woman” but it would be more appropriately applied to Enda and his crew. Well, it is also said “pride goes before a fall”.

    • Declan J Foley says:

      No wonder E.T went home

    • barberaO says:

      PR (public relations) people need to get the fe*k right off out of Irish politics. We, the beleaguered, angry citizens of this small country are far too savvy for their antics – as if we don’t realize the orchestration behind every photo op and tv appearance to put across the image (illusion) of a dynamic, confident coalition government fully in control of this country’s destiny; and so at one are the two leaders of the coalition, they appear to be joined at the hip.! Mar dhea..!! The cracks – nay fractures – are becoming so blatantly obvious.

      How I miss the gravitas and integrity of Brians Cowen and Lenihan……..is it any wonder a now ex-Taoiseach found a bit of comfort in a pint of Guinness having to deal with that lot in opposition. Lord knows, before it fell at the last election, FF put all the right strategies in place to get Ireland through the GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS……….and so sound are these strategies, FG and Labour are following them to a T……..that is except for..you know…something about election promises and easing the plight of the people with the ample room they had left to manoeuvre with regard to vat, income tax, etc., and how the axe would fall……yeah right.

      One thing for sure, the ordinary people never felt such pain under FF and bad and all as it is now, Lord only knows how much worse it could have been had FG or Labour been in government when the crash happened. I’m not sorry. though that opposition parties are getting a bit of experience at government but all I can say is thank God Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan put the 4 year recovery plan into action first.

      Oh but it would have been so worth it, to see the scowling faces of Gilmore & Co if FG had gone ahead with the self-congratulatory celebrations…….is it too late to change their minds??

      PS …No stars whatsoever for Gilmore, at any rate, for closing Ireland’s historic embassy to the Holy See at Rome

    • m mc loughlin says:

      Would Gilmore and Labour stop taking money from the unions?

    • Serenity says:

      Only a foolish and stupid political party would be thinking they’re out of the woods and have gained the full trust of the Irish people.

      But then again, this is Ireland, so anything is possible.

      I found it astonishing that someone, somewhere decided that adding to the taxpayer’s cost of the photo op, which I’m sure like the Obama photos each one will get a copy at the taxpayers’ expense, it would be money and a party wasted.

      I actually find it fairly disgusting someone came up with the self congratulatory little party, given the state of the country and especially the on going discussions and debates as to the Emigration Expo in Dublin and Cork. Give the people a free party and free money to the .01 red cent of what it would have cost, it would help more people. But it shows one thing, old Irish politics and the stink from the past years has not gone away just yet, and just more evidence that we really have a Government and political elite that live in a totally different Universe from the rest of the people, deluded and with their fingers in their ears and their ties across their eyes..

      They will fall on their swords if they continue on in this stupidity.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      I get it. Enda isn’t intellectually capable of generating policy but he’ll spin you a good yarn and he’s always got a ready smile. In the context of Ireland needing friends, even insincere and temporary ones, Enda is the man to do some fair weather friending.

      However, what puzzles me is how much he and Gilmore get away with.

      for example since becoming leader of FG in 2002 Kenny has received the leader’s allowance on top of his salary so that’s an extra €44k a year since 2002 which is €440k and no dobut he’s still getting it and it’s tax free!

      Then according to the data on the Oireachtas website he claimes on everage over €4k in expenses every single month, which going back to 2002 is €48k a year or €448k and again tax free which means since 2002 Enda Kenny has claimed almost €1million in expenses and he has never once provided a single receipt to prove those expenses are genuine because ‘he doesn’t have to’.

      Then there’s the myth about how he cut the Taoiseach salary but the day before Kenny was elected Taoiseach he was getting a salary of €92k, and then day after he was getting €200k, so he doubled his salary – if he was really about reform he’d have taken no increase in salary because the country is bankrupt – are we really going to beleive those made ministers would refuse if they were told there was no payrise involved.

      Next up there is the lie about ‘savings’ made when they ‘got rid’ of the state cars and yet every single minister and junior minister still has a state car and 2 drivers. So getting rid of the drivers meant the taxpapyer covering the cost of the top-ups given to the drivers’ pensions and then paying their pensions. Eg if they were on €60k befoe they are now ‘retired’ on €40k pension but the government ignores that and pretends it has saved 100% when at best it’s saved 33% of the costs.

      But the best bit is that the minister can now claim the cost of the car on their expenses and the drivers salary is on department expenses so the government claims to have ‘saved’ €4m when in fact it’s unlikely to have saved anything at all because the drivers now employed were former drivers anyway so not only is the taxpayer paying the pension for a former driver but it is also paying their new salary too.

      Oh you have to love the Irish.

      This is the type of man who leads the government.

      There are well over 150,000 SME’s in Ireland the if Mr Kenny was serious about jobs he would make sure every single one of those SME’s was able to specifically set out what it needs to change so that it could create one new full time permanent job and one part time job. There are companies with more customers than there are Irish citizens and they manage to cope with targeted sales so why cant’ the Irish civil service respond to it’s customers’ needs in the same way? As if we even need to ask.

      How much was paid in pension tax releif last year when the majority of people who pay taxes can’t even afford to pay into a pension at work or personally. Was is that not one of the first things on the list to go. Oh because Mr Noonan is far quicker to grant visits to the pension lobby than he ever will be to meet those who lobby on behalf of the marginalised.

      Let’s not even mention FOI and lobbying and corporate donations.

      Blaming the last lot is a tired excuse that ran out the day of the election and FG & L have been telling us for 15 years about how much better they’d be and we’re still waiting – there isn’t one single piece of ground breaking legislation passed.

      3 out 10 and that’s being generous.

    • JOD says:

      “How I miss the gravitas and integrity of Brians Cowen and Lenihan” – heehee that cheered me up no end barb keep ‘em coming! Must be VERY warm dark and cosy under that rock of yours :)

    • JOD says:

      The ”Holy See of Rome” heh. Neither Holy nor does it See (except what it wants) and of course being a statelet the size of a golf course neither is it Rome. Just like the ”Holy” ‘Roman’ ‘Empire’ which was neither Holy nor Roman nor an Empire. God will the scales ever fall from their eyes?
      Not so long as they’re tilted so far against justice and so far towards the love of power and money I suppose.

    • JOD says:

      Reckon ‘Star Craving Bonkers” better fits the case Deaglán.

    • arbera. says:

      @ Des Fitz
      “However, what puzzles me is how much he [kenny] and Gilmore get away with.”

      Well I’m convinced they’re taking lessons from Keith Barry, Illusionist and Mentalist..!

      Very informative post, at any rate……….so depressing, the facts, as you present them.

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