Cowen faces backbench revolt as FF TD resigns

Wicklow TD Joe Behan has resigned in protest at the Government’s decision to abolish automatic entitlement to medical cards for over 70s. Mr Behan, who was first elected to the Dáil last year, quit despite the Government’s u-turn today on the issue. Biffo now faces a revolt from inside his own party as Mattie McGrath, Jim McDaid and Tom Kitt have all expressed discontent at the Government’s decision in Tuesday’s budget. Full resignation letter here.

  • dublinsfsupporter

    There is an opportunity for Sinn Féin here.

    Sinn Féin have consistently opposed the government on economic policy and taken a high profile position on Lisbon.

    The government’s unpopularity should see a large swing in opinion towards SF, as people realise that a different approach is needed.

    Expect Sinn Féin to hold the balance of power as kingmakers in the next Dail taking 10 or more seats.

    The unionists must be terrified of all of this.

  • Read the resignation letter: all it really says is Behan wil no longer take the FF whip. One or two of his other droppings suggest he now feels closer to Labour.

    The rebellion looks to be growing: the RTE news-site seems extremely well informed about the thought processes of Noel O’Flynn of Cork NE: is that another voice of decency?

    As for Jim McDaid (Donegal NE), we definitely need to hear more from him. His thrust against other doctors, that they should be accepting a cut in payments for the over-70s, seems curiously misguided, while he also appears to be hedging his bets against the budget-proposal standing up against the High Court. Surely he can’t maintain two opposing positions?

    Heaven held any FF candidate trying to defend a seat for any foreseeable future. But no, dublinsfsupporter @ 09:18 PM, the vote will not easily swing to SF. And doncha just lurve the way the boiled Greens are twisting in the wind?

  • Greenflag

    Shades of Richard Bruton’s (brother of ex FG Taoiseach John Bruton) tax on childrens shoes during an earlier hair shirt period in Irish politics .

    malcolm redfellow ,

    ‘Surely he can’t maintain two opposing positions? ‘

    Surely you jest ? Par for the course for some of our FF high wire acrobats . Have ye forgotten oul Bertie the well known Man Utd fan on the one hand , Croke Park afficionado on the other and even turned out for a recent Rugby Union international.

    McDaid sure is only an apprentice to the Great Teflon Taoiseach 😉

    dublinsfsupporter ,

    Naw nothing here for SF . FF will probably revise this ‘budget measure’ following feedback from the heartland and there’ll not be an election for another 3 yrs at least so there should be time for ‘political recovery’

    Mind you Biffo has to be careful . These are dangerous times to be on top of the pyre .

  • dunreavynomore

    dublinsfsupporter.
    maybe if S.F. persuaded all their millionaire members, like the murphy bros, to pay their taxes the situation would improve and s.f. might get a few extra votes for it but sure that is a pipe dream and would almost give the s.f. leadership a social conscience. furthermore, such a stance would almost bring s.f. into socialism and how their new age friends would run from that. what is s.f.s opinion on the holiday home tax, especially all those improvished belfast shinners who only have one or two homes in donegal and only a few in belfast? ah, what a profitable wee revolution we had, we didn’t change the system, we cost a brave few lives, a lot of prison time but sure look at gerrys books and tom’s graveyard tours. God Bless Ireland! eyes front! the wearing of the green and all that shit!, don’t be looking at my bin bags, get your own millions to look at.

  • Dave

    The government is correct to end the automatic entitlement of citizens to have their medical bills paid by other taxpayers irrespective of their ability to pay their own medical bills. Whatever about the entitlement of citizens who are not capable of paying their own bills to have those bills paid by others on their behalf, it is an absolute nonsense to claim that it is the ‘right’ of those who have the ability to pay their own bills to also shift responsibility for them onto the backs of others. What queer kind of socialist is it that argues that the poor should pay for the rich? Presumably the same queer kind who argues that a taxpayer who has no money in a bank should commit to guaranteeing the wealth of someone who has millions in it by the expedient of agreeing to work for the rest of his life, if necessary, to honour the commitment.

    It is right and proper that these services should be means tested. It is also right and proper that the government should clearly signal that ‘free’ health care, contrary to the descriptive misnomer, is extremely expensive and that transferring the burden of responsibility from the individual onto the collective is not financially or morally sustainable.

    If you haven’t heard of a thing called ‘a health insurance policy’ then now would be a good time to acquaint yourself with it. You are ill-served to listen to the self-serving waffle of socialists who will tell you that the state (i.e. other taxpayers) will pay your bills for you and that, ergo, there is no need to provide for your own future needs. Listen to those gobshites, and you will end up in dire straits as the state moves to a position where it no longer accepts responsibility for you.

    By the way, all of those FF TDs (including Joe Behan) were briefed about means-testing prior to its public announcement. Not a peep was heard from any of them by word of objection until the media decided that it would make a nice distraction from the real issues and whipped up public hysteria.

  • dublinsfsupporter

    dunreavynomore: SF reps take only the Average Industrial Wage so are in tune with the difficulties of people in the electorate, struggling to make ends meet on a limited budget.

    Malcolm: the FF vote is likely to seek an alternative and SF provides an alternative.

    greenflag: this time its different with SF getting substantial uplift long term due to SF’s distinct and alternative policy stand.

  • dublinsfsupporter

    Which party can disaffected turn to? FF, Greens and PDs are IN government. That leaves FG, Labour and SF. FG are pro Lisbon and conservative. Labour are pro Lisbon and in hock with FG. That leaves SF. The implications are clear and unionists must be terrified.

  • Dave @ 10:43 PM:

    The government is correct to end the automatic entitlement of citizens to have their medical bills paid by other taxpayers irrespective of their ability to pay their own medical bills.

    Arguments about means-testing apart, that argument falls down (quite literally) when the next person in the bus-queue, or wherever encountered, has the plague, or there’s an outbreak of e. coli. Good grief, man, haven’t you heard the distress of a naice middle-class Dublin woman whose kids even pick up nits?

    We already supertax the least-well-off by assigning them a decade less life-expectancy: that’s a pretty hefty piece of means-testing, for a start. The RoI policy of pay-or-suffer is a disgrace for any society with pretensions to be a “republic” (res publica need translating, anyone?)

    I cannot conceive what the signatories of the 1916 Declaration would think of this new horror from the “Republican Party”: from each according to our ability, from each according to their need.

    If we needed to have the shame revealed, Mary Harney’s interview with Eithne Donnellan and/or Stephen Collins (see today’s Irish Times) tells the tale:

    The Government considered confining the abolition of the over 70s medical card to new entrants only but concluded this change wouldn’t raise enough savings.

    Let’s have a quick chorus here:

    Money, money, money! Always sunny in the rich man’s world.

    Even Lenihan (see the parallel report by Deaglán de Bréadún, largely about Lenihan dealing with the calls to Today with Pat Kenny admits there are “difficulties” to be sorted. Any Minister who responds to a straightforward point (“What good is €400 to pay the doctor on a monthly basis?”) with “I’d have to have all the details to give you a detailed answer” is well and truly paddle-less in a barbed-wire canoe.

    And all to protect the one sacred monster: Corporation Tax.

    I doubt whether there will be better summings-up than the letter from a P.J.Griffin of Lucan to the Irish Times:

    Several years ago the now discredited Fianna Fáil minister, Ray Burke, had trees planted in a Dublin housing estate just before an election … As soon as the election was over, the trees were removed …

    In recent years the Fianna Fáil government gave medical cards to the over 70s. Now, after winning two elections, the medical cards are removed.

    As long as the people of [the RoI] allow themselves to be duped time and again by this sort of stroke politics, we deserve exactly what we get.

  • “Noel O’Flynn of Cork NE: is that another voice of decency?”

    Unless he’s had a brain implant lately, no.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1986739.stm

    “The government is correct to end the automatic entitlement of citizens to have their medical bills paid by other taxpayers irrespective of their ability to pay their own medical bills.”

    Not sure I’d go that far Dave. Living in Ontario under the Canada Health Act makes me feel far more secure than the pittances of benefits years of PRSI got me. However, most of the benefits senior citizens get (fuel allowance, TV licence, free travel, medical card for some) are premised that “they paid for it during their working lives”. In truth, I think that’s a bit of a stretch, when one considers the large jump in wages and costs since 1987, so those who retired before then paid low amounts of punts in taxes but are incurring large sums to the State in the improved pension and benefits provisions which are basically being funded out of current tax revenues. We could be looking down the barrel of a massive unfunded mandate which will only get worse as the population ages.

    Better to take or tax the free travel or the TV licence as things people should be asked to self-fund than medical services, if we are to sacrifice anything, and in the long term we should be looking at *basic* care being a universal right rather than one someone has to last almost their entire life expectancy to enjoy.

  • dublinsfsupporter @ 11:29 PM:

    The implications are clear and unionists must be terrified.

    Stick to the point. Make an argument. And, above all …

    stop trolling.

    This is a serious topic.

  • Mark Dowling @ 11:39 PM:

    Better to take or tax the free travel or the TV licence

    Both of these are virtually cost-free to the government. A few extra “subsidised” tv licences cost absolutely nothing, except in terms of uncollected “stealth” tax. Equally, “free” transport amounts to putting a few bodies on largely-empty, off-peak conveyances: when Ryanair do it, it’s considered a grand marketing ploy, paid for by over-priced sandwiches and raffle tickets.

    As far those free-riders who, as you have it, didn’t adequately contribute before the large jump in wages and costs since 1987, that’s largely because government chose to regard public-service pension deductions as a source of income, rather than investing and funding a balance.

    All in all, I reckon you’ve made a fair argument for compulsory age-normed euthanasia.

  • Greenflag

    mark Dowling ,

    ‘and in the long term we should be looking at *basic* care being a universal right rather than one someone has to last almost their entire life expectancy to enjoy. ‘

    We could learn a thing or two from the Dutch who allow voluntary ‘euthanasia ‘ for those who choose to either not suffer further pain or subject their fellow citizens to hundreds of thousands of euros in extra health care services cost in order to live another few weeks .

    Given the economic times we live in ‘means testing ‘ is going to become a part of health care services and higher education . It is the price we have to pay to keep a civil society -civil . We do not aspire to have a health care system such as the USA whereby millions are forced into bankruptcy because they need a medical operation .

    That situation will never exist in Ireland – not as long as there enough lamposts and enough rope to hang any politician from who would countenance such !

    That said we as a society have to encourage a more positive attitude and approach to preventive care and health education . Those who ‘abuse ‘ themselves through the forty cigs a day and 25 pints a week routine should pay a premium on their state deducted insurance . So too should the obese .

    Best to approach health care from the personal responsibility angle than go down the path of your health care costs being totally in the in the hands of private insurance companies whose main motive will be shareholder value and profit !

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “There is an opportunity for Sinn Féin here.

    Sinn Féin have consistently opposed the government on economic policy and taken a high profile position on Lisbon.

    The government’s unpopularity should see a large swing in opinion towards SF, as people realise that a different approach is needed.

    Expect Sinn Féin to hold the balance of power as kingmakers in the next Dail taking 10 or more seats.”

    I can’t this happening to be honest. People will always remember Gerry Adams appalling grasp of economics on TV prior to the last election. And so far Sinn Féin has never addressed this problem or improved on suggesting alternatives to government economic policies, etc…! Besides there is no candidate in SF to win the hearts and minds of the people, Mary Lou doesn’t have any originality or the charm factor thats need!

    Not that BIFFO has it either!

    He’ll be out in the next election!

  • dublinsfsupporter

    “People will always remember Gerry Adams appalling grasp of economics on TV prior to the last election. And so far Sinn Féin has never addressed this problem or improved on suggesting alternatives to government economic policies, etc…! Besides there is no candidate in SF to win the hearts and minds of the people, Mary Lou doesn’t have any originality or the charm factor thats need! ”

    Disagree.

    Gerry Adams was being harangued in that debate and was not able to get the message over but the debate has been exagerated.
    Sinn Féin has suggested alternative economic policies very different from those of the government.
    Finally, Mary Lou is an excellent poitician who can win hearts and minds – consider her Euro election results in 2004.

  • dunreavynomore

    dublinsfsupporter

    “sinn fein take only the average industrial wage…”, yes, I believe so but can you tell us if they take the average before tax or after tax home and then tell us roughly how much expenses they are claiming. just a couple of years ago it was shown that paddy doc took over £800 per week expenses from the assembley. expenses don’t go to the party. most of us could go on a tour of ireland for £800 per week! we would also need to know how much other expenses they claim from the party. talking about europe, is bairbe de brun still alive??? haven’t heard a peeep from her in a long gtime.

  • dublinsfsupporter

    “can you tell us if they take the average before tax or after tax home”

    They take the average after tax home. This means that they experience all the pains and hardships of those on the Averate Industrial Wage.

    “is bairbe de brun still alive??? haven’t heard a peeep from her in a long gtime. ”

    She is an excellent hard working MEP. Recently she was reselected by SF for next time, a good move by Sinn Féin as she is a strong candidate.

  • Wilde Rover

    Malcolm Redfellow,

    I was about to call a troll alert too after reading that part but then I saw you beat me to the punch.

    Good show.

  • Wilde Rover

    Had beaten,

    (internal grammar nazi is angry)

  • dunreavynomore

    dublinsfsupporter
    Thank you, though from my experience none of them are suffering anything like the workers, particularily the majority of workers who take home less than the average.