Monday, March 14, 2011

Business and Politics

I am sick to my back teeth of the constant calls from so many people for politicians to come from a "business" background. We heard it endlessly throughout the general election and I have just heard it again on RTE Radio, in relation to the Presidency, from some guy called Johnny Fallon. Apart from the fact that business people, in the main, wrecked the country, we need people in politics who have broad vision and can understand and represent all aspects of Irish society, not merely the economic and financial ones.

Politics is not simply about management and administration of a country (that's what the Civil and Public Service do, under political direction); it is about setting policy direction, based on political vision and values, and putting in place laws, policies, strategies and plans to achieve them. Politicians should be from the people and of the people; that means they should be farmers, dentists, plumbers, auctioneers, lawyers, academics, housewives, unemployed, journalists, economists, drunks, gays and - yes - teachers. In other words, they should be just like the rest of us. I don't want an elite running the country, I want politicians who come from the people and serve at their will. The last election, more than any in recent years, gave us such a group of men and women.

Ireland is at a crossroads now and the choices we make  - and not just the economic choices -  will determine how the country prospers over the next decade or more. These choices must be based on our values as a society of people - what we believe in; what we stand for; how we express and assert ourselves in the world; how we interact in international affairs; how we value and protect the weak and vulnerable in our society. It was our loss of direction, vision and values - driven largely by our brief love affair with money, shares and property (the "business" stuff) - that landed us where we are now. We don't need more "business" people, who so recently and so catastrophically failed our country - to run our affairs. I prefer the man or woman from my own community - not from a "business" elite - to do the job.

And how, exactly, do you really define a "business" person in Ireland? There is hardly a business that has not got a grant, a subsidy, a tax break or some other type of handout from the state - corporate welfare, as Joe Higgins might call it.

So get real, folks, and appreciate what our democracy is and just how fragile it can be. Fight to protect it whenever you hear calls for an elite to take over our affairs. For there lies the path to the destruction of our country and of our society and the end of a future for our children in the country of their birth.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

RTE's Ageist Coverage of 31st Dail is Shameful

I have followed the coverage of today's affairs in relation to the 31st Dail by RTE and I am utterly disgusted at the ageist theme running through all of it - from Morning Ireland to Pat Kenny and Drivetime. It is an utter disgrace and RTE should be ashamed of its editorial line. On Drivetime, a contributor to the programme said - with absolutely no evidence to back up the assertion - that the new Cabinet appeared "male and stale". Whatever about "male", how could she possibly call a Cabinet that has not even met "stale"? This is desperately poor production based on cliched thinking.

Having done such a great job on the coverage of the election counts, RTE have really let themselves down with their ageist coverage of today's events. Shame on them.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Cowen's Latest Act of Contempt for the Electorate

I am utterly disgusted at Brian Cowen's appointment of Darragh O'Brien to Seanad Eireann. Cowen, who did not have the nerve to present himself to the people for election and is Prime Minister merely by dint of a constitutional quirk, has the gall to appoint someone whom the electorate of Dublin North so recently rejected and who represents a party that failed the nation so badly and that was destroyed in the recent election. He has a cheek, but can I really be surprised at anything that party and its leaders would stoop to?

It is remarkable how quickly Cowen filled the Seanad vacancy in contrast to his leaving the Dail without three representatives for months. Democracy and the constitution counted for little then and it took Sinn Fein and the High Court to remind Cowen of his duty to the people. He has clearly forgotten it again.

Michael Martin has a long road ahead if he wants to renew Fianna Fail because sharp practice, abuse of position and contempt for the people is in the party's DNA.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Congratulations To Dublin North's Newly Elected TDs

It's all over in Dublin North and nearly all over in the rest of the country, with just a few recounts taking place. As was widely predicted, Fianna Fail and the Green Party were decimated and the electorate finally got their revenge. I am very pleased that Dublin North has no Fianna Fail or Green Party deputies and that, in the whole of Dublin, Fianna Fail only have one seat - Brian Lenihan's - and the Greens have been completely wiped out.

It is very clear from the election result that the electorate have utterly rejected Fianna Fail, so the calls from some that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail should go into government together must be rejected. For this to happen would be an outrage and an insult to the electorate. Fianna Fail must not see power for at least a generation, until the poison of corruption is truly removed from the party. I would actually prefer if the party disapeared altogether, but this is probably not a realistic hope.

The electorate clearly voted for a coalition of Fine Gael and Labour, since neither party got sufficient votes to form a government on their own, but both did historically well in the election.  I hope that the two parties can agree a programme for government over the next few days and that the Labour Party conference will support their going into government; I have a feeling they will.

Dublin North has three new TDs: Clare Daly (Socialist Party), Brenda Ryan (Labour Party) and Alan Farrell (Fine Gael) and one returning TD, James Reilly (Fine Gael). I congratulate them and wish them all well. I hope that they will do some service nationally and also represent their constituency well. I'll be keeping an eye on them!