All change at the top of the PDs…

We understand that Michael McDowell has been confirmed as the new party leader (and Tainiste?) with Liz O’Donnell as his Deputy while Tom Parlon takes over as party President. Mary Harney can, if she so wishes retain her tough brief at health (key to their election campaign?). No surprises there then. We await confirmation from the MSM. Though El Matador was onto it well before us

Update: As Pete notes below, the party statement is ambiguous to say the least.

  • Pete Baker

    Confirmation, of sorts, here

  • Pete Baker

    Confirmed by the PDs

  • Hidden Gem

    I think Michael McDowell as leader of the Progressive Democrats would be a good move for the PDs. He comes across as an honest a straight talking bloke who, whilst considered in his thinking, nevertheless shoots from the hip. If in deed, it all comes to pass as the party statement suggests, good luck to him!

  • Brian Boru

    Good. He will hopefully expose the folly of the dogooders of the Left.

  • George

    Brian,
    you do realise that Michael McDowell is the man who stood firm against Pat Rabitte and others about the value of the free movement of labour within the EU and the rights of East Europeans to work here.

    In that respect, I agree that he exposed the folly of the supposed dogooders of the left.

    Although, as folly seems to be catching, he may falter in the coming months as an election approaches and instead sacrifice the final two countries in the Nice tranche on the altar of political expediency.

    I fear this isn’t a good move for the PDs as for all his tough talk in Justice, McDowell has failed to take on the vested interests in An Garda.

    Just like Harney shot the PDs in the foot with her comments about “unmarried mothers” a few years ago, I can see McDowell doing the same between now and election day.

  • Brian Boru

    Well George it seems he is supporting controls on Romania and Bulgaria judging by comments he made in the media. And I like the new ID card plan too and his handling of the bogus-asylum-seekers. The good outweighs the bad.

  • George

    Brian,
    McDowell has nothing to do with asylum seeker policy. The policy in Europe on asylum seekers now comes unter EC Treaty law and is out of the hands of our local politicians but you can be impressed with Mr. McDowell’s window dressing about how he is treating “bogus” asylum seekers.

    Hope it helps you sleep at night.

    There has been no official announcement on Bulgaria and Romania but I fear it is dependent on opinion polls rather than anything else.

    As for ID cards, you’ll be next to be forced to carry one so I don’t know why you are so happy.

    First they came for the non-EU citizens….

  • Crataegus

    I have a feeling that this is an opportunity missed. McDowel is unlikely to widen the PDs support base quite the opposite. We will know by next summer.

    As for ID cards etc if it can be made it can be copied, and there will be those only too glad to import very low waged workers illegally. I have known people have worked (and work) in Dublin for years undetected. So what is going to change? Do we want to set up a system that puts money in the pockets of criminals or the treasury?

  • Henry94

    He will give them definition. A poll in todays Tribune shows 50% want Bertie as Taoiseach as opposed to 29% for the boy Kenny.

    But the real personality/policy question now is who they want as Tainiste, McDowell or Rabbitte.

  • Nathan

    A PD post-mortem will be necessary in due course.

    With McDowell leading the way, they may become transfer repellent in the next general election.

    As for him being Tainiste, who gives two toffees. His time as Tainiste will be risible indeed because I expect Trevor Sargent to be the next long-term Tainiste of Ireland.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I expect Trevor Sargent to be the next long-term Tainiste of Ireland. ‘

    Good jaysuz – A nice lad and all that but Ireland needs a politician who can persuade the electorate that unless we all want to return to travelling by means of the donkey or bicycle the country will need to start building nuclear power stations . Oil is running out . The ESB 20% increase last week is only the beginning . If Ireland does not move fast to increase electricity capacity then the entire economy will be put at risk within the coming decade . The ‘oil energy ‘ will become a race to the bottom when by 2010 oil consumption around the world is going to exceed substantially oil production .

    Bertie and his new Tanaiste had beeter stop hoping for an ‘energy production’ miracle and start looking at the practical possibilities . Both Tony Blair and Pres Bush have already decided that in lieu of anything remotely capable of providing the energy shortfall in the medium term -nuclear power stations are the only technology capable of meeting the industrialised world’s needs.

    Trevor Sargeant’s Party means well but hard facts have to be faced .

  • Jo

    Just out of curiosity, what were Marys’ comments on unmarried mothers? *smiles sweetly*

  • Henry94

    Jo

    Mary Harney, during th 1997 elecion campagin, suggested offering incentives for single parents to live with their extended families so they could benefit from the available support system.

    But by the time the opposition and the media were finished with it people thought she was proposing they be flogged in public.

  • Jo

    …which, of course, she wasn’t? 😉

  • Miss Fitz

    Just wondering the same thing Jo. Maybe George could give some details or link us to it.

  • Crataegus

    Greenflag

    Trevor Sargeant’s Party means well but hard facts have to be faced .

    They specialise in the politics of opposition. There is a certain pious attitude about them that doesn’t sit well with me. It reminds one of a religious faith, earth mother and all that. I could see them supporting all sorts of changes, “for our own good”.

    It always struck me that the Greens and the PDs probably have overlapping electoral bases so I would imagine that they are glad that the leader is McDowell.

    As for Sargent to be the next long-term Tainiste with which other party; FF? Sorry I just don’t see it.

  • pale face

    Great to see the Northern contributors take an interest in the internal affairs of the Irish Republic

    Well done to Northern Ireland during the week, by the way.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Great, the south’s pro business party has selected – not elected – a leader who likes to shut down businesses before they start off. He’s such a democrat that he would like to judge a newspaper before its printed and when he’s asked to stand over his ludicrous claims in court (and I’m talking about his illfounded and very unstatesman like comparison between Daily Ireland and a nazi party newspaper) he adapts the defence used by Pinochet to avoid trial on the accusations regarding the disappeared in Chile.

    As for Mary Harney’s tenure at health, it isn’t the best for the health of the country. Ask Pat Joe Walsh’s family whose loved one died a needless death on a hospital trolley thanks to the cut backs in the health service pushed through by the ‘pioneering’ Ms Harney. Her only policy to reform the Health Service appears to be to allow private companies build hospitals on public land, adjacent to public hospitals, so private patients and their expensive consultants can piggy back on the lab services etc being provided in the public hospitals and so the rich sick can avoid the poor sick in the hospital corridoors.

    Let’s not get over excited about the internal machinations of a far from progressive and only slightly democratic party which commands less of the electorate than Daily Ireland did of Ireland’s newspaper readers.

    I am glad that Michael McDowell has been elevated to the leadership of his party. It will give the Irish electorate to roundly reject his racist and fascist brand of politics come the next election.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I am glad that Michael McDowell has been elevated to the leadership of his party. ‘

    I preferred Mary Harney but McDowell will do fine 🙂

    Some hard facts from the past decade of FF/PD Governments

    1) GDP frowth averaged over 9 per cent per year between 1994 through 1999 and since then it’s been averaging over 5%

    2) In 1987 income per person in the Irish Republic was 66% of the EU average. By 1998 this income gap had closed . By 2006 Irish income per person is 20 to 30% ABOVE the EU average .

    3) In 1987 , 17% of the labour force was jobless . In 2006 it’s 4% .

    4) Industrial disputes decreased from more than one million days lost in 1979 to less than 40,000 by 1998 .

    5) Between 1987 and 1999 the average worker’s earnings after inflation increased by 58% ,

    6) All of the above was achieved at the same time as the economy has absorbed 400,000 immigrants for it’s expanding economy .

    7) The Government’s annual budget went from a deficit equal to almost 9% of GDP in 1897 to a surplus of 2.1% of GDP by 1998 .

    8) With just 1 % of the EU population – Ireland attracted over 20% of foreign direct investment capital in the EU .

    In all of Ireland’s recorded political history including the period under the Act of Union no Government ever achieved so much prosperity and hope for the people of Ireland .

    There will come a time when I’m sure the FF/PD coalition may be nudged from power . But it won’t be at the next election . The PD’s under Mary Harney can take a lot of credit for the huge turnaround in Ireland’s economic performance over the past decade . Now is not the time to hand over the reins of power to an unproved coalition of ‘don’t know who we are Fine Gaelers and a Labour Party led by a Rabbit. I expect the Green Party to do better and SF to just about hold their own .

    Bertie will be Taoiseach for another term at least 🙂 The lad from Drumcondra has a safe pair of hands .

  • Keith M

    Oibhear “Great, the south’s pro business party has selected – not elected – a leader who likes to shut down businesses before they start off.”

    A bit like Daily Ireland you mean? Less that two weeks ago you were telling us how it was on the up so I think your forecasting skilss might need a little re-tuning (try 180 degress).

    Anyway McDowell would not have been my choice, but I wish him well. Let’s see what HE means by radical?

  • paid

    Olibhear states..”Ask Pat Joe Walsh’s family whose loved one died a needless death on a hospital trolley thanks to the cut backs in the health service pushed through by the ‘pioneering’ Ms Harney”

    RTE did ask them.

    According to RTE

    “The family of a man who bled to death at Monaghan General Hospital last year have criticised staff at the facility.”

    Whoops. How terribly inconvenient of them. Actually reading the report and apportioning blame accordingly.

  • Greenflag

    And not forgetting GDP per capita comparisons with our neighbours to the north and east .

    As per figures from the Economist World Outlook 2005.

    Irish Republic GDP per capita = 52,000 Dollars
    United Kingdom GDP per capita = 38,000 Dollars
    Northern Ireland GDP per capita = 28,000 Dollars(est)

  • IJP

    Huge admirer of the PDs’ role in the Celtic Tiger that I am, GDP is a particularly irrelevant figure.

    Equatorial Guinea’s is around 40,000 dollars, and the weather’s good… hands up who wants to move there…

  • Henry94

    We’ll not swap the grey mists of Ulster for the blue skies of Equatorial Guinea.

    But with a united Ireland you don’t have to move, unless you want to.

  • Henry94

    You mean we’ll have a choice? 😉

  • Brian Boru

    “The Government’s annual budget went from a deficit equal to almost 9% of GDP in 1897 to a surplus of 2.1% of GDP by 1998 .”

    LOL Didn’t know we had a govt in 1897. Intriguing… 😉

    “As for Mary Harney’s tenure at health, it isn’t the best for the health of the country. Ask Pat Joe Walsh’s family whose loved one died a needless death on a hospital trolley thanks to the cut backs in the health service pushed through by the ‘pioneering’ Ms Harney. Her only policy to reform the Health Service appears to be to allow private companies build hospitals on public land, adjacent to public hospitals, so private patients and their expensive consultants can piggy back on the lab services etc being provided in the public hospitals and so the rich sick can avoid the poor sick in the hospital corridoors.”

    I think the problem at Monaghan hospital was an operational one. A minister can’t micromanage everything on a day to day basis as he/she can’t be everywhere at once. The idea behind the centralisation of certain facilities in particular hospitals is to avoid wasteful duplication of resources so as to free up cash to pay for a better health-service overall. If that means sending someone to Cavan General Hospital instead of Monaghan then so be it, and I don’t understand why this poor man was not sent there. Private hospitals are needed to ease the burden on public ones and thereby reduce waiting-times. Mary Harney has reduced waiting-times through the National Treatment Purchase Fund where private-hospitals are paid to take on public-patients.

  • Brian Boru

    “Brian,
    McDowell has nothing to do with asylum seeker policy. The policy in Europe on asylum seekers now comes unter EC Treaty law and is out of the hands of our local politicians but you can be impressed with Mr. McDowell’s window dressing about how he is treating “bogus” asylum seekers.”

    We still have a national-veto on Asylum and Immigration, though the EU Constitution would remove this (one reason it must be stopped). We have not agreed to any EU laws that would prevent us doing what McDowell’s proposed new laws would entail. I don’t think you understand how the EU works. Proposed EU-wide laws can only come into force if they are proposed by the EU Commission, passed by the Council of Ministers (either by weighted majority or else by unanimity, as in the case of Justice and Home Affairs including Asylum and Immigration), and sometimes by the European Parliament. So there is no question of their being EU laws at present that would interfere with this. In case the ECHR pokes its nose in we should withdraw from the relevant parts of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is not part of the EU.

  • Greenflag

    ‘hands up who wants to move there… ‘

    Mark Thatcher did 🙁

    ‘GDP is a particularly irrelevant figure. ‘

    Yes it is -In Equatorial Guinea . Income per person in EG is about 900 US Dollars per person or 2% of the GDP figure you quoted which is an indication itself . In the developed work GDP is a very relevant figure and is seen by economists as the best comparative statistical measure for comparing economies

    IIRC , Equatorial Guinea is the place where Mark son of Thatcher the Tory became ‘involved’ in a failed coup d’etat and was as a result barred entry to the USA as an undesirable .

    Here’s the BBC’s Equatorial Guinea reference – Naturally no mention is made of the failed Thatcher coup .

    Large oil and gas deposits were discovered off Bioko in the mid-1990s and their exploitation has driven spectacular growth. In 2004 Equatorial Guinea had the world’s fastest-growing economy.

    Economy: Equatorial Guinea is sub-Saharan Africa’s third biggest oil producer
    International: Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are in dispute over islands in potentially oil-rich off-shore waters

    But few people have benefited from the oil riches and the country ranks near the bottom of a UN human development index.

    The corruption watchdog Transparency International has put Equatorial Guinea in the top 10 of its list of corrupt states. Despite calls for more transparency in the sector, President Obiang has said oil revenues are a state secret.

    In 1996 Equatorial Guinea’s first multi-party presidential election was held amid reports of widespread fraud and irregularities, returning President Obiang Nguema with 99% of the vote.

    His government has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and of suppressing political opposition. A government-in-exile has been formed by opposition leaders living in exile in Spain; President Obiang accused its leader of sponsoring a failed coup in 2004.

    Equatorial Guinea’s territory includes the island of Bioko, off the Cameroonian coast, which hosts the capital, Malabo.

    In the 1970s it became notorious when the widespread human rights abuses of President Francisco Nguema caused a third of the population to flee.

  • George

    Brian,
    Asylum policy was brought in under EC Treaty law in the Treaty of Amsterdam, the EU constitution merely repeats provisions already in existence under previous EC Treaties. Although I should add that the EU did fail to adopt the asylum procedures Directive before the May 2004 deadline for the entry of the 10 new EU countries.

    I can do so in future without an EU constitution but this seems to have led to a race to the bottom in the treatment of asylum seekers.
    It seems we will be guaranteed a lowest common denominator as the standard for asylum systems in the ten new EU states.

    Missfitz and Jo,
    During the 1997 election campaign, Harney argued that single mothers would be better off with their families and also suggested changes in benefits (cuts) and tax breaks if they stayed with mum and dad.
    Not the cleverest move to target a vulnerable section of Irish society, who were stigmatised in the dark days of the then not too recent conservative past.

    Here maany people were on the crest of a wave after the divorce referendum and Harney puts her foot in it.
    Maybe McDowell has his finger more on the pulse, we shall see.

  • IJP

    Not the cleverest move to target a vulnerable section of Irish society, who were stigmatised in the dark days of the then not too recent conservative past.

    But is not the fundamental skill of the PDs – a party of remarkable influence despite only 4% of the vote – that they recognize their core constituency and appeal to it?

    Are there not parties in the North who could learn that lesson?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Green Flag

    I think the preferred indicator is now becoming GNI which allows for foreign earnings. This has a sizeable impact on comparisons and statistics for countries who have a lot of multinational companies headquarters and other sources of foreign income.

  • Greenflag

    FD .

    The Economist still uses GDP per capita as it’s preferred comparison statistic between economies in it’s Annual World Outlook report . I presume they have good reasons for this . The difference (in the case of ROI) between GNI and GDP has been declining and is now IIRC less than 10% .

    What is significant in the case of ROI is that the present economic growth rate on top of an already substantially greater GDP per capita absolute figure -is widening the absolute economic gap between ROI and NI . This will inevitably have ‘political’ consequences given the ‘divided’ nature of the NI State .

  • Nathan

    Greenflag,

    Trevor Sargent is one of the jewels in the Irish crown, being the only Protestant politician not to behave like an irrelevant stuffed dummy in the Dail chamber. Hence my expectation that he will become cabinet minister if not second in charge of the country one day.

    Unlike you, I’m not really fascinated about the pungency of GP party policy. If I lived in his constituency then I would vote for him due to his personality rather than for his policies, and I’m sure others would feel the same.

  • Crataegus

    Nathan

    Hope you don’t have far to cycle to work and your house is well insulated with rain water collection and its own heat pump.

    God better get to bed so I can get up early and tend the vegetable plot. Let’s see what book for a bedtime read, herbal medicine I think? Hope I have enough candles made to last a few chapters. Wonder if there’s a slow cooker based on body heat to cook porridge overnight?

  • Brian Boru

    “Brian,
    Asylum policy was brought in under EC Treaty law in the Treaty of Amsterdam, the EU constitution merely repeats provisions already in existence under previous EC Treaties. Although I should add that the EU did fail to adopt the asylum procedures Directive before the May 2004 deadline for the entry of the 10 new EU countries.”

    OK but it remains subject to a national-veto.

  • IJP

    Greenflag

    The Economist is even worse – doesn’t even use Purchasing Power Parity.

    Any stat based on a single year is dubious.

    But my point is broader still – you can tell anecdotally whether a country is doing well or not. There’s more to quality of life than money!

    The Irish Republic has achieved an astonishing turnaround – and the PDs have been prominent in it… but it’s not Switzerland, whatever the stats say.

  • kensei

    “Equatorial Guinea’s is around 40,000 dollars, and the weather’s good… hands up who wants to move there”

    This is wrong, and you have now been corrected twice. I realise your a politician, but repeating it again qualifies as a lie.

    “The Irish Republic has achieved an astonishing turnaround – and the PDs have been prominent in it… but it’s not Switzerland, whatever the stats say.”

    Of course not. After graduating, I am now earning roughly what my father earns. Does that mean I am richer than my father? Of course not, he has nearly paid off his mortgage and has had time to build up assets. It means that I might, with a bit of luck and wise decisions, that I might one day be richer than my father.

  • kensei

    “But my point is broader still – you can tell anecdotally whether a country is doing well or not.”

    No, you can’t really. That’s why they have economics.

  • IJP

    Kensei

    I quote the International Monetary Fund figure for 2004.

    For 2005, it is lower, but still in the top 50 in the world, higher than all the states of Eastern Europe bar Slovenia.

    And it is clearly nonsense.

    There are other organisations that put the figure much lower.

    Which is my point.

    Too much depends on how you measure these things.

    Economics is about much more than figures in a column.

    Like I say, I can tell anecdotally that the Republic of Ireland is a generally much better place to live and more prosperous location than, say, Slovakia. And I can tell that Switzerland is well ahead of the Republic of Ireland (or just about anywhere else in Europe outside Scandinavia, for that matter). But the stats (depending again on who you rely on) put the Republic close, if not ahead.

    Of course, the indicators do show the Republic in a position where a decade hence it could be ahead.

  • Harry

    20 years ago one person on an average wage could pay a mortgage and support a family. Nowadays two people on the average industrial wage (mean or median – the FF/PDs never tell us) can barely pay a mortgage between them before worrying about paying the 550 euros required by the dentist to fix their child’s root canal if they haven’t got private medical insurance.

    Of course, there’s always credit. And nowadays we have cheap air travel and X-boxes. Makes up for it apparently; we think we’re richer. Are we?

    While much that has happened has been good over the last 10 years in the south, the fact is opportunities have been spectacularly mismanaged by a collection of corrupt and unimaginative dullards who are showing in a time of plenty (created with foreign money) why it is they provided us with three quarters of a century of almost unbroken economic depression in the first place.

    A government led by an accountant (whose qualifications in that department are remarkably nebulous if you go about trying to find them), accompanied appropriately enough by ideological sidekicks whose understanding of politics doesn’t extend one iota beyond a “debit/credit” tunnel vision.

    Ireland can do much, much better than this.

  • kensei

    “I quote the International Monetary Fund figure for 2004.

    For 2005, it is lower, but still in the top 50 in the world, higher than all the states of Eastern Europe bar Slovenia.”

    So again – not true.

    “And it is clearly nonsense.”

    Dunno, never been there. Is it oil? Like anything, you read it with some kind of intelligence.

    “There are other organisations that put the figure much lower.

    Which is my point.”

    You’ll find that most put the ROI up there.

    “Too much depends on how you measure these things.

    Economics is about much more than figures in a column.”

    Ye. That isn’t the same a s”well, we should all just rely on anecedotes”

    “Like I say, I can tell anecdotally that the Republic of Ireland is a generally much better place to live and more prosperous location than, say, Slovakia. And I can tell that Switzerland is well ahead of the Republic of Ireland (or just about anywhere else in Europe outside Scandinavia, for that matter). But the stats (depending again on who you rely on) put the Republic close, if not ahead.”

    Because they tend to overlook infrastructure. The most important question is, is it better than the North?