FF-style cronyism alive and well in Government, delegates told
Opposition politicians criticise Phil Hogan’s nomination as EU Commissioner
Pearse Doherty today accused the media of failing to hold those in power to account and told delegates at the MacGill summer School that Ireland was unique in not having any left-wing media. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Fianna Fáil-style cronyism “is as prevalent as ever within the current Government” and there is no prospect of either a radical vision or a shift of focus, the MacGill summer school has heard.
Independent TD Lucinda Creighton denounced the Government and accused it of not delivering on its own five-point plan.
The Government was falling well short on its pledge to reform the public sector and is failing to deliver smaller and better government and a better health system, she said. “Politics,” she said “is reduced to a game of personalities and seat numbers and very little else”.
“Where is the democratic revolution and its economic counterpart? Was it for this - more of the same - the people voted in record numbers three short years ago?” she asked.
“There are many people both within and outside the political system who believe in a better Ireland, who believe that politics can be less cynical, more honest, more transparent and who believe in an economic vision which empowers Irish people, making them masters of their own destiny rather than slaves to the market or the State.
Those people must soon stand up and be counted.”
Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty also denounced the Government and derided the decision to appoint Phil Hogan as an EU Commissioner. He cited a range of failures among the main parties which have been in government in the Republic and he was also severely critical of the church and State bodies.
He also accused the media of failing to hold those in power to account and claimed Ireland was unique in not having any left-wing media.
Denouncing the appointment of Mr Hogan, he said: “what message do we send by promoting someone for party loyalty, with no regard to their actions in promoting political cronies and boasting about denying Traveller families access to housing?” he asked.
But he said “progressive voices were louder than ever”. “Politics in Ireland is already changing,” he said. “The old dominance of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is going and with that comes the hope that real change can be achieved.” “Sinn Féin makes no apologies for it - we are here to challenge the establishment, to challenge the status quo.”
He said his party “never will be afraid to make a stand on issues even when it is not popular to do so”.
Sunday Business Post deputy editor Pat Leahy credited the current Government as being “better than the last one”.
However, he added: “But you cannot seriously argue that it has changed the way we do politics.” The day after the last Dáil election Enda Kenny announced that Ireland, had just seen a “democratic revolution”.
“The phrase flashed around the world,” Mr Leahy said. “I don’t know about you, but from where I’m standing three years later, it doesn’t exactly look like St Petersburg in late 1917. I mean, the place is hardly unrecognisable now, is it?”
Reform has merely been “renovation of the old structure,” he said. “In 2011 people were too fast to see it as a realigning election. It was more of a de-aligning election. People cut free of past commitments and started a search for a long-term political home.
“Most have not found that home yet - because while people want to change the system it is not yet clear they want to change the culture.
“Until that day comes, there will be no real change of the way we do politics.” Independent TD Catherine Murphy highlighted weaknesses in the political party structure, accusing them of being centred more on party loyalty than public service. “Fianna Fail is more about followers than a party of equal members - following leads to rewards,” she said, adding that it was this that “has led to a crony culture”.
Fine Gael is more paternal but draws from a smaller pool. She accused the party of imitating Fianna Fail in its promotion of internal loyalty.
“Loyalty in politics is often a conservative value,” she said, “a means of self preservation.”