Politics »

  • The public (sector) has spoken

    September 18, 2012 @ 9:41 pm | by Harry McGee

    It’s just after 9.20pm and the Dail has risen after its first day back. (more…)

  • Rethinking the think-ins

    September 12, 2012 @ 4:14 pm | by Harry McGee

    I wrote an analysis piece this morning about the September parliamentary party ‘think-ins’ and how they have lost a lot of their (admittedly tawdry) lustre in recent years. You can read the article here.

  • @Chrisformerff

    August 13, 2012 @ 10:19 am | by Harry McGee

    Well Chris Andrews’ twitter alter ego essentially reflected the fate that was to befall the former TD for Dublin South East.


  • Coalition Flash Points

    July 21, 2012 @ 3:42 pm | by Harry McGee

    This is a detailed breakdown of fault line issues following on from today’s piece in paper.
    1. Abortion. This has emerged as the only one that could seriously
    undermine the Coalition. It seems that clear majorities in both
    parties have polar views on the issue.
    “I was surprise that so many newer and younger TDS have very strong
    views on this issue,” says Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh form Galway West.
    “It’s an issue that Labour Party are very supportive of and want to
    push. This is going to be a major bone of contention.
    “The input of the parliamentary party is vital. It’s critical our
    voice is listened to,” he said.
    For Labour TDs, the expert group being established is in the
    programme for government and has to be implemented.
    “We in Labour were told to vote against Clare Daly’s Bill (to give effect to the X case judgement) on the basis that the expert group would make a
    recommendation,” says Waterford TD Ciara Conway.
    She believes it’s not as red line as some might suggest. “I think it’s
    a bit more nuanced.”
    That view is shared by Senator Ivana Bacik of Labour who points to
    initial Fianna Fail opposition to civil partnership during its coalition with the Greens.
    But that might underestimate the vehemence of Fine Gael opposition.
    The party’s youngest TD Simon Harris has very clearly identified it as
    red line issue, as have others.
    Dealbreaker potential: 9 out of 10

    2. Croke Park
    The Government as a whole is committed to implementing the Croke Park agreement until it ends next year. But that has not been without constant sniping from Fine Gael TDs and the occasional minister (Leo Varadkar).
    Again, the views of both parliamentary parties radically differ.
    The interim report shows it has delivered,” says Labour’s Conway.
    “Our TDs would be inundated with complaints if we did not have Croke
    Park. It has been able to bring about change with no industrial action of any significance.”
    “It’s delivering €1.5bn in savings annually. We cannot lose sight of
    what it is achieving. Even the IMF say that social partnership is the
    envy of any Euroepan society,” echoes her colleague Colm Keaveney.
    On the other side, the view is almost uniformly negative. Fine Gael’s
    Harris mentions the breakthrough on sick pay but argues that to stick
    by it, real reform and not just posturing should be demonstrated.
    Another young Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy is even more sceptical: “It’s
    still not clear what the Croke Park agreement has actually achieved.
    Our first priority must be to reduce the deficit as quickly as
    possible. I can’t see how we can do that wile Croke Park remains in
    place,” he says.
    Brian Walsh from Galway West argues the public service pay must be tackled.
    “Funding is being cut from organisation and groups in disability. If
    you look at the budgets the vast majority of it is pay-related.
    Because of Croke Park, cuts have to be direct on the non pay side. But
    all the meat has been cut from the bone. It just means services are
    being affected.”
    But as long as the Government remains committed to it, Fine Gael TDs
    will swallow hard.
    Deal-breaker potential: 5 out of 10

    3. Gay Marriage
    Eamon Gilmore has said he wants it and says it is the most important civil right of our time.
    Enda Kenny has refused to state
    his position. TDs and Senators from both sides don’t believe it’s
    going to be an issue and that it’s going to get the go-ahead. Even
    younger Fine Gael TDs who oppose abortion don’t have strong views on
    it, one way or the other.
    Deal-breaker potential: 1 out of 10

    4. Alcohol
    Roisin Shortall’s proposals to impose minimum prices and put
    restrictions of alcohol advertising never made it to Cabinet. Several
    Labour TDs including Keaveny and O Riordain complained about the power
    of the drinks industry lobby, implying that pressure was being brought
    to bear on Fine Gael.
    “After the Phoenix Park concernts, I genuinely feel angry at the sway
    that alcohol has in Ireland,” said Keaveney.
    “I’m not taking away from Fine Gael colleagues or getting into a
    tit-for-tat but we need to reform society as well.”
    Shortall’s proposals are radical and, on the face of it, will be sure
    to make most Cabinet members baulk at the implications. Are her strong
    views supported by all of her Labour colleagues? Perhaps not. A
    compromise will be reached.
    Deal-breaker potential: 1 out of 10.

    5. Budget and Ministerial clashes
    One of the features in the run-up to last year’s budget was the
    flotilla of kites being flown by ministers, whose departments faced severe cuts. In the end, basic social welfare rates were protected and income taxes rates were not increased.
    But with very low growth and a €3.5 billion adjustment, there is a growing belief that the status quo will not prevail. That view was
    strengthened by this week’s IMF report that pointed to cuts in pensions, children’s benefits as well as a high-value property tax.
    Both parties have tolerance thresholds on their principles but most
    TDs seem to adopt a pragmatic viewpoint; that painful compromise will
    be inevitable.
    Says Labour’s O Riordain: “There are things that I feel very strongly
    about in the debate on social welfare and tax. I would feel there are
    those in Irish society who could pay more.
    “Anybody earning over €100,000 would not be as affected by higher taxes
    as much as the low paid.
    “The essential thing that has to be there is fairness. If people feel there is not fairness there, there will be a moral authority question-mark over Labour in Government.”
    Labour’s Keaveney believes both parties will have to accept deep compromise: “Everybody is going to have to swallow the medicine. We are going to have to think big and think country.”
    Deal-breaker potential: 5 out of 10

    6. Future of Seanad
    The biggest signs of unease within Labour has emerged within the
    Seanad but that seems reflect internal tensions between its own
    members in the Upper House. There are a number of new Labour senators
    who are very opposed to the abolition of the second chamber and have
    made that sentiment known. But it is the settled policy of both
    parties to abolish the Seanad. And it is unlikely that a small group
    of recalcitrant senators will upset that applecart.
    Deal-breaker potential: 2 out of 10

  • The Luck of the Draw in Politics

    July 6, 2012 @ 3:17 pm | by Harry McGee

    There are a raft of qualities and ingredients that are essential if you are to meet with success in the world of politics.


  • Hanged, Redrawn and Quartered

    June 21, 2012 @ 4:18 pm | by Harry McGee

    A rule of thumb in Irish politics has it that the churn rate of TDs at a General Election is usually around the 20 per cent mark. (more…)

  • Politics and religion: preaching to the converted

    June 19, 2012 @ 8:58 am | by Mary Minihan

    Former Fine Gael taoiseach John Bruton dismissed the common argument that religious belief should be kept out of politics when he addressed the Eucharistic Congress recently.

    It was a well-received address, but then he was probably preaching to the converted. (more…)

  • Early Days but already early doors for No side

    June 1, 2012 @ 12:36 pm | by Harry McGee

    It’s just after noon and already the die is cast. The win won’t be emphatic – nothing like the 67 per cent to 33 per cent of Lisbon II – but it will be clearcut enough for the forces railed on the Yes side to claim a mandate for the fiscal treaty.


  • A class and generational divide?

    @ 12:24 pm | by Mary Minihan

    No alarms and no surprises for the Yes side in the end, although the lowish turn-out may have allowed the most optimistic on the No side to dare to dream very briefly yesterday.
    Talking about class difference makes many of us uncomfortable. We live in a Republic, after all. But tallies are broadly showing, as polls predicted, that the Yes campaign had strong backing from middle-class voters while many working-class voters remained opposed to the treaty.

    That’s basically what I found when I went around polling stations in Dun Laoghaire yesterday. (My colleague Pamela Duncan did the same thing in Donegal. The idea was to canvass a traditionally strong Yes and strong No constituency.)

    I also found something of a generational split, with lots of older people fretting that younger voters had drifted towards the No side.

    A growing number of disgruntled and politicised working-class voters, and disillusioned young people across social divides, means that problems are being stored up for Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail.

    Will Sinn Fein be the direct beneficiary, or is there scope for the emergence of a single-issue anti-EU party?

    Did fear win the day, as some on the No side will say? Let us know.

  • Enda Kenny’s campaign

    May 30, 2012 @ 3:02 pm | by Harry McGee

    Because of the referendum, there has not been a huge amount of activity around Leinster House this week.
    There was a smattering of Government and Fianna Fail TDs knocking around this morning. The consensus was that the Yes side will prevail but there was a difference in confidence levels between parties.


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