GE11 Profile: Fine Gael move from obscurity to power

Fine Gael has a strange place in Irish politics. Many pundits (amateur and professional) like to do their calculations as though the party did not actually exist, or at least was incapable of drawing the affections of a substantial group in Irish society. It is often portrayed as (and often is) the ‘Anyone But  Fianna Fail’ party. And yet, and yet, Enda Kenny is indisputably going to be the next leader of the country.

Kevin Rafter’s book on the party is required reading if you want a quick read-in on the party’s mixed and checkered history. It has been a party of the centre left (Garrett FitzGerald saw himself, and by extension the party he led, as social democrat). It’s not clear that Enda has any pronounced political colouring, even if some of the young turks jostling over his shoulder most certainly do.

But what’s seen to be good for the private sector (tax cuts and easing of employment law), may not be seen to be good for the public sector (job cuts and external competition). Working together on a compromise programme of government runs the danger of alienating both segments.

Opinion in the Dublin media is divided on how deep that talent goes, but no one in the Dail has their current depth and breadth of representation, with 70 deputies as of last night’s count, to Labour’s 36, Fianna Fail’s 18 and Sinn Fein’s 13. Even the shallowest of pools could find 15 competent ministers from 110 plus along with 10 or so juniors eager to be seen to make original and inventive contributions.

There are powerful lobbies now counselling them to go it alone with the aid of a small bunch of economist TDs. The logic is clear enough. Between them, Fine Gael and Labour have almost perfectly segmented Fianna Fail’s Woolworth’s coalition of private and public sector voters, and in the process gutted that party’s political power base.

But what’s seen to be good for the private sector (tax cuts and easing of employment law), may not be seen to be good for the public sector (job cuts and external competition). Working together on a compromise programme of government runs the danger of alienating both segments.

For now the party’s front bench seems content to deal with Labour. And there’s some sense in that too. Much of the rather giddy talk of political realignment, fails to take account of the fact that Fianna Fail’s dominance of Irish politics in the last eighty years arises from its understanding that under STV PR, it’s the parish rather than the nation that matters.

But the parish, and its larger incarnation, the county, is not the sole boundary of a citizen’s political interest. That it has been, goes some way to explain the complacency the last government feel into, and the deep hole at the heart of the nation’s finances.

This is a state of affairs that Enda Kenny and Fine Gael cannot allow to continue. To end the parish pump politics which has brought the country to its knees, you have to assign the care of the parish to something much closer to the parish pump.

Properly reforming local government, restoring to it the power and responsibility it lost in 1977 – when Jack Lynch abolished the domestic rate on houses – would open up real options for those who might lose out from reductions in the size of the Oireachtas while ensuring that the public could seek redress from decentralised democratic power.

This would free up the legislators to focus on law making and hold the executive to account.

Fine Gael and Labour and to an extent other parties in the Dail will have a vested interest in making changes to the political system so that they are not in the firing line of the public come the next election.

The problems the country faces will take longer than a parliamentary term to resolve and any realignment that might be occurring is still only half way completed. Were Labour for example to lose out to the other parties of the left come the next election, it would move the left no closer to government than it is now.

Remedies to the nation’s rather than simply the economy’s ills almost certainly will have to include political reform. It may not be what the average citizen in Cavan or Roscommon is clamouring for, but it is a functional way to address the malaise at the heart of Irish politics, and what Kenny terms as the disconnection between citizen and their democratically elected government.

This requires some form of national consensus, not simply between Fine Gael and Labour, but reaching out to include (as far as possible) Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and the various independent blocks.

Without it, the country is in danger of lurching from party to party in an endless parade of ‘Kick the Bums out’ elections that leads nowhere but down.

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  • The Word

    “This requires some form of national consensus,
    Without it, the country is in danger of lurching from party to party in an endless parade of ‘Kick the Bums out’ elections that leads nowhere but down.”

    In this day and age of the power of the international money markets and international finance, which are threatening the very basis of the nation state, the reality is that it will be the countries that embrace the pooling of more sovereignty in terms of common regulations controlling the flow of finance and its integrity, on an international basis that will find the way to the strongest stability.

    So a national consensus without an international gameplan will be just window dressing. These people have to begin to recognise that the position of the right has been undermined.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    there is a disappointing tendency in punditry (amateur and professional) in both sport and politics to play the scoreboard and go along with simple and easy suggestion that ‘the best team won’ or they deserved to win – simply becuase they did.

    Winning as SF have done in the Northern Territories (or doing well in the Southern Territories) doesnt stop the boul Gerry getting his feet held closely to the fire here on Slugger nor should it and in Enda we have someone according to even his own party last year who is not fit for purpose and was according to some hidden away during the election.

    One of the disadvantages of being a small country (I’m sure Unionists would aggree with this) is that at times you get a relatively diminutive untalented fish playing a disproportinately large role in a small pond. The boul Enda is clealry such a cratur.

    Lets us not pretend either, in the rush to appear magnaminous to the winners that they have arrived in government other than extremely fortuitously – supporting as they did the previous government policies- except to haggle over reducing stamp duty and further inflame the property market in the run up to the election before last.

    Yes there is plent of grand talk now of reform but we really needed to hear that from them when they dozing at the wheel in oppostion.

  • Dewi
  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    One of my main gripes with Enda(the wet) is his failure to challenge Berty in the election before last on Berty’s obvious (alleged) trousering and his failure to challenge FF on their economic policy. Memorising a few lines that were probably written by someone in a dark room with a history book does not a good oppostion leader maketh.

  • Dewi

    But he’s more than a “Kick the Bums Out” bloke. Some substance……if he can stand up to Merkel…

  • Jimmy Sands

    I tend to agree with Sammy. It’s barely weeks since Enda was pulling knives out of his back from colleagues convinced he’s not up to it. These were ideal conditions for FG which will not recur and yet their vote share was lower than Garret got in losing in Feb 82.

  • Mick Fealty


    Garret’s seat haul was in the wake of the damage done by Jack Lynch’s 1977 great give away budget. The country was in ruins, and he was still unable to get a majority. And it was 29 years ago.


    the scoreboard allots a set of responsibilities. Those responsibilities now fall to Enda Kenny as putative taoiseach.

    I’ve laid out what I think that means for him/them. Not sure I see you responding directly or indirectly to any of the points I’ve mentioned above.

    No one is above having their feet metaphorically held to the fire on Slugger. So be my guest. But it would also be useful for me to hear what you make of the analysis above?

  • Mick Fealty

    By way of an addendum, my feeling is that realignment in Irish politics cannot happen unless Kenny and Gilmore call time on a system that actively privileges local over the national interest at parliamentary level.

    If they don’t we may have to wait generations before we get back to the point where such cross party agreement on the need for change is possible. The trick will be finding out what minimal changes will be effective.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    I’m not sure there is not a bit of a contradiction between on the one hand seeking to end parish pump politics and
    on the other lamenting “what Kenny terms as the disconnection between citizen and their democratically elected government”.

    Irish politics via the parish pump is extremely connected to to those who hold the balance of power and also via the ‘personality’ of the local politician who is often far more accessible than his counterpart in Britain. If FG go it alone we will have parish pump politics centre stage just as with the previous administration.

    I also dont agree that ‘accountable local government’ ie thicker layers of adminstration held locally(or raising money locally) is actually of any benefit to the individual – who just needs clear simple procudures speedily implemented with greater emhpasis on practical technology rather than shifting the bureaucracy closer to him.

    What the country needs most is not political reform but effective oppostion to ensure whatever decisions are taken are rigourously examined and evaluated – which of course takes us back round to Enda and his miserable failings as an effective oppostion leader.

  • Dewi

    God help us – god a blasted referendum to win…

  • Jimmy Sands


    You could hardly argue that FF back then was ever in the doghouse to the extent it is now. It seems to me that the FG performance is based largely on the collapse of FF rather than any great enthusiasm for the party. Fitzgerald, unlike Kenny, faced a competitive FF in three elections, in each of which FG got a higher vote share than they did on Friday.

  • Mick Fealty


    I hear what you say, but you ignore the fact that FG was by far the most successful party in the election. If the Tories had scored an equivalent victory in Britain last year, they’d be delirious.

    Your response also conforms to the formula laid out in the first paragraph. There have been qualifiers all though this campaign and through most of last year. And yet FG are in a far better situation than Garrett (who’s the one who holds the record for getting the largest share of the popular vote for the party).

    Garrett fought two elections in 1982 when the electorate were largely choosing from two major and one minor party. Getting a larger share of the vote still left him in a politically impotent position. It would eventually end with his party deserting his own self professed Social Democrat values and vowing political fealty to Fianna Fail whilst in opposition in the form of the Tallaght agreement.

    The rest, as they say, is history.

    If I could bring myself to agree with some of your argument, it would be to the very limited extent that FG’s future is now fully in their own hands. Can they be bold enough to tackle the root cause of a malaise in Irish politics that pre-exists this particular boom/bust cycle?

    Can it create the circumstances in which a real national politics can thrive? If it can’t then Old Father Time will surely carry it off in the same way he carried off previous administrations? The party needs something big from Enda. Time will tell if he can provide it.

  • Munsterview

    Mick : “It may not be what the average citizen in Cavan or Roscommon is clamouring for, but it is a functional way to address the malaise at the heart of Irish politics, and what Kenny terms as the disconnection between citizen and their democratically elected government…..”

    Mick it is quite simple : if there is to be genuine reform then there must be real power transferred to the people.

    Aint going to happen!

    We have had a transfer of power from one political party to another, but within a representative block that basically caters for the same class interests and the same political and State Apparachic Establishment. Inside this block the supporters of this continuing establishment want things done more competently and not as blatantly corruptly as they were done under Fianna Failed. However they do not want wealth distribution or resource allocation status quo’s fundamentally changed.

    One of the biggest concerns of this group during the election was the tax and mortgage situations on their second and third homes, not the lines of trolleys in hospital corridors or their neighbors children emigrating.

    This was the same mentality and indifference as allowed the Magdalen Laundries and the ‘Reform School’ Institutions. A generation before and indeed all the ways back to the Famine period, the same mentality accepted TB deaths by the thousand year and year and would have continued to do so had not a former leading IRA man made it his priority when negotiating a real collation Government to end it and made sure that his Health Minister was resourced to do it.

    This political ‘hands on’ by the incoming Government Ministers ( if they succeed) rather than hands off and auto pilot under Fianna Failed is but a difference in interfacing methodology : it is not about fundamentally altering the system.

    Have it been forgotten that the main establishment political parties in this Island accepted over a quarter of a century of Low Intensity War and 3,000 casualties rather than allow Sinn Fein and Republicans inside their systems because we would not sign up to their Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee political gameplay?

    Once again the young, the ambitious, the restless and the radical are gone through the safety valve of emigration. How big a difference would a few hundred left of centre votes made in the various constituencies in this election never mind 75,000 plus that are gone in the last eighteen months?

    In fact they would have made all the difference to elect a left block that would have made the difference !

    I summarized the election in a blog for a Canadian site shortly after the election as ‘New Government….. Old Politics’

    It may take a six months or until the next budget for this particular penny to drop with the general public but time will tell, this is exactly what we have.

    If we are to have real change it must be power to the people. Otherwise it is power to the politicians and the difference between FF and FG is that the former were there too long and burned out while the latter are fresh and rearing to go.

    While the ruling political parties in government retain maximum power to themselves they but travel the same road as Fianna Failed, the only variable is how long it will take before they get to the end of the cul de sac when the screen falls down or is pulled down and we get to see the wizard at work.

  • Mick Fealty

    Your last is more or less what I said to a triumphant FGer in Cavan Monaghan. By your rather pessimistic account the same will come to your own favourite, Sinn Fein.

    In my view your veiw here is as pessimistic as the fabled ‘Noble Lie’ is optimistic. There’s a valid point at the bottom of it, but it misses the point that there is a possibility of change. It may not be revolutionary, but it’s certainly a missing rung in the evolutionary latter.

    FG’s motive is that sooner or later they will be busted playing the constituency game that, loathe them or love, you cannot deny FF have down pat (though, I suspect some in SF are catching up on).

    As I’ve said above I have no view as to whether they have an appetite for that, but if they don’t strike now, the opportunity may gone for good.

  • Greenflag

    Dewi ,,

    Thanks for the link above 1 March 2011 at 7:48 pm. One for the archives .The FG link with the Army continues with Billy Timmins TD (son of Godfrey Timmins TD) elected in Wicklow . Defence Minister ?

    ‘Can they (FG) be bold enough to tackle the root cause of a malaise in Irish politics that pre-exists this particular boom/bust cycle?

    A tough enough task in itself but it’s possible that the main parties shocked by the instant growth of independents and SF and a now more volatile electorate will tackle root causes .

    But they are also up against an even greater malaise over which they have no control and that is the malaise of western democracies generally as they have seen the concept of one man one vote being steadily replaced over the past two or so decades by corporate oligarchy and effective bankocracy. We in Ireland are not immune to the vagaries of world monetary markets . And although the previous government and opposition were ‘ignorant ‘ of what was happening in the USA in the sub prime market it seems that those in power threw caution to the winds despite the advice given by the Dept of Finance.

  • Greenflag

    MV ,

    ‘and we get to see the wizard at work.’

    As of now the ‘wizards ‘ of the Deutsche Borse (German Stock Exchange are gobbling up (combining with ) the former wizards of the New York SE with the aim of becoming the worlds biggest earners in the ‘derivatives ‘ high return business . meanwhile all those banks who were too big to fail are now bigger than ever -and all those politicians who had guns put to their heads in the USA , UK , and Ireland by the ‘banks’ have essentially shut up . Obama has ‘caved’ in to the money men just as did Bush and Clinton before him .

    If SF had been voted in as the Republic’s government last weekend they would be utterly dependent on what eventual (hopefully ) new world currency and monetary order that still awaits construction by the G-20.

    I know many have said that Labour should go into opposition and grow the ‘left ‘ . Gilmore is not a ‘believer’ in any heaven on the other side of the mortal coil so he’ll have to take his heaven and probably hell in coalition now . It’s what the voters ‘want ‘ for now . Country above party or words to that effect is /will be the spin as it always was/is in these situations .

  • Munsterview

    Mick : It is all the more important then for SF to plan for and hold a special one day conference as soon as it can be organized to lay out just what they mean by new government and governance.

    ( While this post may appear to be off thread, please bear with me as I have detailed ‘unfinished business’ down here that is common place for more than a few people and a matter that SF will have to engage with the State on for us with immediate effect, especially as current SF TD’s such as Martin Ferris were subjected the the very same abusive process)

    I was part of the panel that drew up the first Eire Nua program after the re-organization of Sinn Fein in the early seventies. Central to that was the Regional Government program for Government. I was in several committees to do with this, in fact I got married on a Sat and was at a meeting on Sunday before going on my honeymoon the following day.

    Those meetings had outreach support at a very difficult time for Sinn Fein when anyone associating with us was de facto treated as proto-Provos with surveillance, Special Branch visits to employers, the Road Traffic Act checks four or five times the same day and all the weird and wonderful refinements that the State, its agents and servants threw at us.

    That proposed regional government devolved system was thrown out not because of any fundamental disagreement with the proposals by the then Sinn Fein leadership, but because it was a convenient peg to hang ‘Old Policies’ on when the Northern Leadership took over control from the O’Bradaig circle.

    It was not all just optics or power struggle leadership: at that period there were genuine supporters of Marxism who wanted ‘Democratic Centralism’ and see power concentrated in a revolutionary elite rather than devolved to the plebs.

    I had experience of working the Client with the Sinn Fein party and meeting City Hall and other system officials on behalf of people but I always considered this to be dishonest and a waste of resources. Whether it was the Council or the Health Board, solving one persons or families problems was just that : the next person or family and the whole damm thing had to be fought all over again on its own particulars as it the previous situation had not been dealt with. The default position always returned to the status quo!

    As the Courts were used and abused against us on a systematic basis, I took to going to Dublin a day before the Ard Comhairle ( National Exc.) meetings, visiting various courts and seeing how the system operated. I thought it could be used and haunted the place for a few weeks and had some good discussions with progressive lawyers.

    That was my personal way forward using paralegal means. Legal Aid was then( as now) an absolute and total inadequate mess. I put a small team of like minded individuals together, I was SF and the other IRSP, a person who had a good Third Level background. In the case F.V The Legal Aid Board the Superior Courts found the existing Legal Aid System to be unconstitutional. These hearings established Case Law and set a new floor under which all then and future cases could not fall.

    Anyone of hundred so called ‘Mary Robinson reputed liberal and progressive types’ could have done what we did much easier and quicker : they knew the ropes while we had to learn from our mistakes. However there was this major difference; we were willing to confront the system, they were part of the system and any lawyer that did what we did could just park their careers.

    Instead of contributing to the solution, by their inertia and passivity ( aside from letters to the Irish Times and ‘strong’ strident interviews), they too went totally along with what after all was their system and they tolerated all the misery in it, since it only affected their fees, not their friends!

    That case forced the Government to spend over 10 Million pounds and open over seventeen new Legal Aid centers in the Immediate and the Intermediate period following the ruling. This single Case Law benefited hundreds of thousands of separated women since and will continue to do so as long as separated women will go before the courts.

    SF leadership could not see the potential and did not want to know !

    Other cases followed, so did increased State hassle, I had more Special Branch attention when I started to work the Courts and the system and the constitutional means than some GHQ staff or even Army Council members. This manifested in the main in abuse of the RTA Acts. Two sets of summons necessitated thirty-four different district and circuit court appearances only to have the Gardai then apply for the summons to be struck out.

    That year I lost fifty four working days in Court. I began to appeal systematic this abuse of process to the High Court and I secured an injunction against the State prosecuting me under the RTA that lasted for four years on the first occasion and over two years on the second. It caused so much embarrassment to the Senior Circuit Court Judge and the Local Administration of Justice, that when the cases were finally remitted back to him, the Senior Judge held a special sitting of the Circuit Court late evening in a Court Room not normally used.

    The usual at that stage was to prosecute in Bally-go-backwards without actually serving any summons and without informing of the convictions post the court case. Consequently all subsequent checks until the Gardai arrived with an arrest warrant weeks or months later meant that I was driving while off the road without being aware of it for every one of these stops.

    Because of these convictions, while a non drinker and one who had just two reported accidents in all my years driving, on one year I paid more for insurance than a friend of mine paid for public liability on his hackney car that was part of a taxi service. This is what Republicanism and support for the North cost me personally in strictly financial terms.

    Only a Donegall Type Tribunal could detail what it cost me in my personal, domestic, social and business life and there are hundreds of us in the South left swinging in the wind to date because ‘The North’ got priority and SF would not confront the State while co-operation was needed in Northern matters.

    My recent arrest on a Circuit Court Bench Warrant arose from 1992 alleged RTA offenses and these are still ongoing.

    ( In this regard I will make it a priority for the incoming Sinn Fein to end this State abuse on me and people like me or else ! )

    I had the press there : there were 17 sets of summons against me, I was convicted on the first set of No tax, no insurance, no driving license, no seat belt worn and failure to produce etc. I was fined one pound only on each of the first set and one day in prison in default of payment. The same on the second set with the prison day to run concurrent.

    The State Solicitor protested and said that I would not pay the fine but would do a one day hunger and thirst strike and bring the State into disrepute. I informed the judge that I thought the State Solicitors opinion was an excellent idea and that I would do just that. The State withdrew the rest of the summons.

    The judge said that he was wiping the slate clean and he went on to point out in the strongest possible terms that he would not have his courts abused by any party. He also ordered that all such cases in the pipeline come before him where he would deal with them on the same one pound basis. That judge retired and the state cranked up the engine again with all the summons treated in the ordinary way before a new judge.

    The Superior Courts were an answer. However as in other walks of public life they too have been stuffed with Fianna Fail legal hacks with mediocrity their common dominator. Unlike past decent Justices such as McCarthy, O’Hallron and Barron yet al, this recent set see preservation on the State and inter alia their own privilege position as the priority.

    Far from doing everything as the Old Guard Judges did to uphold the rights of the individual to natural and constitutional justice, this lot see their duty to protect the State and the Establishment from what they perceive as attacks and expensive legal costs from people like me!

    At this stage I would probably get a better reception from the Grand Master of the Orange Order if I turned up unannounced at a Grand Council meeting than I would from the President of the High Court or the Supreme Court….. and all just because of a little matter like personally forcing a President Of The High Court to resign! Touchy, touchy!

    This is another unseen aspect of Fianna Failed corruption and one we will have to live with for a long time yet, while incompetent legal appointments work through the system for decades to come long after Fianna Failed is consigned to the dustbin of history.

    There is a systematic failure of Governance systems and as I have shown an equally systematic failure of State Institutions where limited people were appointed on party preferences and have now risen to senior positions where their incompetence is magnified ten fold with every erroneous decision and mistake they make.

    Such is the Public Service ethos that an incompetent cannot be fired in the Civil Service, they can only be promoted sideways and up to a higher salary grade. Now the system is top heavy with these cretin drones who just milk the system for every thing that they can while preserving the status quo.

    I am involved in a case at present where one such person has cost the State over one third of a million in a High Court Judicial review cases that arose because he arrogantly refused to answer a number of letters concerning Health Board practices under his authority.

    He has not learned and I can easily see the case costing the State well over a Million before it is resolved. This will mean either the person taking the case will accept the gross violation of their rights and go home or one million plus will be diverted from already sorely depleated medical services to legal fees.

    Our side already have had three meetings regarding the ethics of this, it had not cost the Health Board offecials concerned a second thought as far as we know !

    The test for Sinn Fein is will they continue to play the ‘Parliamentary Game’ or will they use their mandate and Dail platform to highlight the gross State abuse as in the administration of justice areas like I have given in my own life and in other Institutions ?

    I am not holding my breath and I yet may have to organize one last campaign for people like me that will inevitably lead to open conflict with Sinn Fein as constituted. If with this increased mandate it commit stop State abuse as outlined, then there is far too much riding on what Sinn Fein represents and if necessary this particular ‘Emperor will be shown to be wearing no clothes’ if this is the situation.

    Southern Republicans have played second fiddle to the ‘Northen Situation’ for forty bloody years but no more, our time is here and our pressing issues down here, individual, community and State must be dealt with now. Many of us who have kept faith with the Northern Leadership and evolving situation since 1986 as the years before and we deserve no less!

  • Mick Fealty

    You are right, it is off topic. On a thread about Fine Gael it gives us lots of interesting detail about Sinn Fein. Nothing about FG.

  • wee buns

    The potential for change always exists, but it’s a little bit depressing that such a surge of energy from the electorate will likely produce relatively small & insignificant changes with regards to the issue that currently matters most to people; the economic deal with Europe.
    Apparently we just had the 3rd most volatile election in Europe since 1945, surpassed only by Italy in ’94 and Holland in 2002.

    ‘Such is the Public Service ethos that an incompetent cannot be fired in the Civil Service, they can only be promoted sideways and up to a higher salary grade. Now the system is top heavy with these cretin drones who just milk the system for every thing that they can while preserving the status quo.’

    Completely agree & what a mess, with no (that I can see) solution.

  • Munsterview

    Mick : Fine Gael has promised to be the new broom that will sweep everything clean.

    Can it even if the intent is there ?

    In the foregoing post I have just shown some of the ingrained and by now institutionalized incompetence that is prevalent in State Institutions at all levels and more so in one of the most important areas of public life, that of the Administration Of Justice.

    I have concentrated on Sinn Fein in this post, not because of partisanship, but because Sinn Fein has run this election on the basis that the Party is ‘The Uncompromising Opposition’ I would have thought that aspects of past SF history that I touched on would have constituted more than a passing interest in as much as it could be indicative of their interface with the incoming Fine Gael dominated Government.

    In the foregoing post I but took some of the issues that you, yourself covered in the broad sweep regarding Fine Gael and particularized examples of these from my own current and historical experience, to illustrate the magnitude of the problems facing the Incoming Government.

    Yes the thread is on Fine Gael but it is not all about Fine Gael you know. This concerns some of the outworking of what will be needed and why I personally think that rather than some very necessary State housekeeping and a lot of optics, that essentially there will be just a change of overseers while the grand State project will be allowed to trundle on.

    In these circumstances the likely attitude of Sinn Fein and the Left Alliance is every bit as important to those on left politics as the attitudes of Fine Gael are.

    If in the course of a thread we cannot examine the likely interfaces between SF and FG/Lab, then we are discussing FG purely in terms of it’s own party and organization.

    That Navel gazing exercise as such is of little interest to me but how FG is likely to interface with the body politic and how Sinn Fein sees it’s place in the new scheme of things is of every interest to me and I suspect quite a few on this Island and not all of them Republicans or their supporters either !

  • Munsterview

    Wee Buns : “Completely agree & what a mess, with no (that I can see) solution….”

    Nor I !

    These people constitute ( God Help Us) some of the ‘Public Service’ that Labor is pledged to preserve. I know of a situation of where one of these ‘Wilting Violets’ alleged bullying against a low level employee well below his department level . He alleged that he had been shouted at and ‘placed in fear’.

    A long perior of paid leave followed while he tried to recover, poor thing !

    He had been shifted from derartment to department with constant upward promotions. The result of this enquiry when he eventually returned to work : both people were allowed keep their jobs, there was a new status quo established regulating as to how they interfaced.

    Oh yes almost forgot one little detail : because of the Senior Guys rank he was awarded, wait for it……. ONE MILLION EUROS !

    Yes, that is right, one million euros plus because he had been shouted at and a few months of sick leave on full salary, poor dear, to get over it !

    This particular case stinks to High Heavens and has every indication to being a ‘set up’ for compensation like one of the underclass searching for a road hole to ‘fall into’ so they could sue the relevant Local Authority.

    However ‘the victim’ did no other than milk the system that was placed there by insiders and wasters for milking !

    Any surprize then that there are no funds available for hospital beds or other essencial services? Will Labor grasp that nettle ? Will they F*** !

  • Mick Fealty


    Nor do alll roads lead inevitably back to SF. Why would political reform not be possible? Who’s agin it? What else is there for them to score on?

  • Munsterview

    Mick : short answer to your question; vested interests.

    Start with the legal profession and even before the extortionate fees, there is the matter of ‘retainers’ at the start of every year, a practice I have detailed in other posts whereby a significant number ot expert barristers and SC ‘greenmail’ top business and commercial concerns who need to prevent the possibility of such legals appearing against them.

    Some judges are still not paying the voluntary pay levy, while their office cleaning staff on minimum wages have been docked an Euro an hour on top of other monies taken.

    What of the Permanent Government, do you think that they will go quietly into the dark night ? In a pigs ear they will, they have the country structured and administered exactly as they want it and they will not allow that to change.

    Wherever your look there are powerful cabals such as, bankers, stockbrokers, estate agents etc, all well individually group financially resourced and represented within Fine Gael at top levels. Once you move down the scale of administrators to a certain level, then Labor and the Unions hold sway and they are going to protect their sectoral interests with the same determination as the top tiers.

    We need root and branch change and reform : all we will get is tinkering around the edges.

    To-night we have a clear and transparent example of where Bankers lied yet again to elected Government; will anyone be held accountable for that? Will there be an enquiry to find out how many were in on the scam?

    The outgoing government will do nothing, what the incoming government will do will be the first indication of how sincere they are about corruption. If I see an immediate, public, transparent rooting out of lying bankers and civil service facilitators, with the undeserved ‘bonuses’ recovered and paid back to the Irish Taxpayers ( who now in reality are the people footing the bill for this latest theft from the State), then I will believe. Until then as far as I am concerned it will still be ‘business as usual’!

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    There is very little wrong with the ‘system’ as it stands and getting rid of the Seanad as proposed by FG is just some pandering to some ‘smaller government’ malarkey they picked up along the way. Having said that there is no need for more local government or revenue raising powers as the tax sysem is designed to collect money fairly and all that is required is a transparent and fair means of distribution.

    The real need is for effective opposition and the abilty for the Dáil and the Plain People of Ireland to have access to government information and the ability to challenge and change things when they are proven to not work.

    Changing systems in pursuit of some lofty ideal such as Back to Basics, Smaller Government, Big Society is more often than not a public relations exercise designed for the purposes of obfuscation and propaganda.


    I’m not sure what you have written will be fully appreciated here on Slugger – I presume you have considering pulling it together in some sort of publication?

  • Munsterview


    The first thing to bear in mind regarding moves towards a Republic in the 19th, century, the Freedom Struggle and post Freedom Institutions did not arise in a vacuum. When the Irish Republican Brotherhood was formed on the eve of the American Civil War, it already had plans for the Governance of the Republic in place.

    The late Sean McBride informed me that a full set of plans regarding the governance of Ireland under the French were drafted by the United irishmen and the French prior to the attempted 98 Rebellion and he believed that they still existed in France, if they had not been discovered and removed by the British post the fall of Napoleon.

    Since the IRB records were sealed by agreement post the establishing of the 26 County Irish Republic, we are now unlikely to see these records reopened while there is ‘unfinished business’ in the North, so we do not have the original governance plans for the Republic in the public Domain.

    I have touched on this because the State Structures as envisaged were very carefully considered by people who had decades of experience of actual County, State, Provincial and Country Governance in The USA and Canada in particular. Collectively hundreds years of experience going all the way back to the American Revolution in 1776 when the administrative skills of people such as General O’Sullivan, who was by Washington’s side at Valley Forge and one of his right hand men, were considered and availed of.

    By the foundation of the Free State the IRB has a continuum of one hundred and fifty years of planning from the American Revolution where Congressmen, Senators, Governors, Canadian MP and Ministers etc in addition to Army Generals and other high ranking Military personnel had all contributed to plans for an ideal Republic and Republican Administrative structures.

    When the GAA was formed by the IRB a very deliberate part of this photo-government was to foster not alone strong individual County Identities, but also the local Baronies to give inter County regional identify and relevance to localized areas.

    In short when Kenny proposed abolishing the Senate without consulting his own FG leader of the Senate, his FG Senators,or most of his Front Bench, never ming his Dail Parliamentary colleagues, what was meant as only the ‘idea for the day’ to give a soundbite for the evening news, tapped into peoples anger about waste. Of course there was widespread agreement with abolishing the Senate, the same visceral support was there among your average Joe Soap to abolish the Dail as well for good measure as the gravy train expenses unfolded!

    To refocus on topic : there are two distinct issues here, first the Structures of Governance per se and second, how these structures function.

    In the first regard there has been no detailed examination as to how the Senate as a Governance Structure functions or why it fell short of what was envisioned by those who established the Second Chamber. When this is done it will be very quickly found that the structures and processes were not at fault.

    On the second the reason is obvious, over the years the dominant political parties Fine Gael as much as Fianna Fail, have used the Senate as a staging post drop off for non electable politicians on their way into or out of National politics. For every David Norris, Labhras O’Morochu, Shane Ross or Fergal Quinn there have been a another five wasters with nothing to contribute to anything other than their localized importance to the appointing political party.

    Even now and despite everything Micheal Martin, the the new face and leader of Fianna Failed is about to stuff the Senate in so far as he can with TD and would be TD that failed to get elected. To do this he is willing and indeed demanded that well established FF Senators with a genuine commitment to the Senate step aside.

    Since the primary interests of these people remain focussed on the Dail and their return to it, and transparently so, how then can the Senate function as envisioned ?

    I am all for a root and branch review of Governance but it is a bit rich indeed for either of the main political parties to dismiss the Senate as being unfit for purpose when they have made it just that by their own activity of using it as a rest and recovery home ( and even a recational one) for their own failed political hacks and placemen.

    May the Good Lord save us from ever having any sort of a list system in Irish Politics if the raft of Senate political appointments by mainstream political parties is indicative of the collections of failures, misfits and ‘has beens’ that dominate the Senate appointments is anything to go by!

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    “I am all for a root and branch review of Governance ”

    Just dont agree, more change will mean more disconnect from the people with endless committees reviewing and debating arcane points and the result not necessarily any better. Reform of the Seanad is overdue but the impact of its reform will be mariginal.

    The ‘system’ is fine as long as long as there is proper parliamentary debate by deputies selected by an informed electorate willing to hold them to account. I suspect we will not have much of the former becuase we dont have enough of the latter.

  • Mick Fealty


    Great panoply of Republican an SF heroes, but are you still ignoring FG?


    Marginal change is all that’s required. Burdening three TDs with care of resources for one and a half counties is just plain nuts.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    “Burdening three TDs with care of resources for one and a half counties is just plain nuts.”

    Any practical examples of why its ‘nuts’?

    Anyway, surely that is a product of the voting system – and changing that is not ‘marginal’ so without altering that how are you suggesting it can be changed’?

  • Munsterview

    Mick : in answer to your question no, I am not !

    These days as a Historian rather than a politician I can take the long view and the overview. Within minutes of entering one of the count centers I was in intense discussion about the next election and the one after with a few like minded souls even though the first count had not yet been announced inside the pen, that is the nature of the back-room beast, a current election is but a milestone and touchstone with contemporary politics and election seen as part of natural past and future flow.

    These things are part of a continuum, they did not arise in a vacuum. Kenny did not give serious consideration to his Senate abolition proposals, his handlers just picked a ‘topic of the day’ that would resonate with the pissed off public before he moved on to the next topic and headline capturing froth. It chimed with the public and took on a life of it’s own. The handlers did not see that one coming, The mainstream political parties just chipped in as they could not afford to be left out without adding their tuppence worth.

    It was a worthy topic meriting serious debate, not sound-bite politics and this event do not auger well for what is to come regarding serious political discussions, for all the reasons that I have already given.

    As to the historical contexulation, all that we inherited in the First Dail was held in thrust for and is the legacy of the Irish People and not just all living on this Island either. It is not the exclusive property of Fine Gael, Sinn Fein or any other political party on this Island.

    The political parties can claim authenticity regarding this legacy only in as much as they adhere to the values of the Republic as envisioned in 1916, the First Dail and all the other efforts since to make this theoretical Republic a living, breathing reality.

    Far from an ‘off thread’ diversion, I would respectfully submit that placing Fine Gael and the other political parties in that historical matrix is a very worthwhile and necessary exercise.

    As to where Fine Gael itself now stands it is too early, much too early for any kind of post election evaluation. It is only when Enda will allocate the Government Minister and Minister of State positions that we will have some indication of where the power centers are inside Fine Gael and what accommodations Enda had to make to consolidate his power base.

    Meanwhile earlier in the week I attended a seminar on the Malmedy area of Belgium and the problems of governance and historical identity there. As I said on another thread it makes the Fermanagh/ South Tyrone situation seem relatively straight forward. As the current Belgian situation show and discontent in England and in other countries and regions of Europe, Governance is very much a very live issue all over the Continent and not just in Ireland.

    How much will Enda see himself as a Regional Christian Democrat Leader inside a European framework as distinct form a Head of Irish Government, is a matter that has not been referred to, much less discussed and yet it is Enda’s actions and relationships in this first capacity that may determine his success or otherwise as Irish Taoiseach acting in his second capacity.

  • Munsterview

    Mick : “Burdening three TDs with care of resources for one and a half counties is just plain nuts.”

    In general these divisions are very often not as much of a disconnect on the ground as they appear on paper. Take the North Kerry/ East Limerick new arrangement. For generations the Republicans, Moonlighters and others have operated inside this regional arrangement. West Limerick have always looked to North Kerry rather than Limerick City. The roots of that ethos go back to the Old Kingdom of Desmond .

    South Kerry have also been always just that, South Kerry, with one leg in and one leg out with the rest. I have seen FF totally split with North and South at each others throats with nothing decided an hour before the post election County Council meeting..

    East Cork do not really chime with North Cork or South West Cork or all with Cork City. It very much operates as a unit in football and hurling but in little else. North and South Tipp is another case in point.

    Again these electoral divisions do not arise in a vacuum : yes there have been a few crude carve ups where the natural dividing boundaries have been overlooked, but in general the local politicians ensure that the natural catchment areas and regional identities are followed.

    There is a fascinating subject there in it’s own right regarding regional areas and how identities have been preserved from historical times irrespective of Shiring and later political arrangements, that is just crying out for a detailed study.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s the regions themselves that’s the problem but that each TD is treated in the way a whole council might, because the councils are held in such low regard.

    People who vote Lowry or Healy Rae are making rational choices based on their past performance in squeezing regional blood from the national stone.

    The #GE11 Round Up:

  • Munsterview

    Mick : ” People who vote Lowry or Healy Rae are making rational choices based on their past performance in squeezing regional blood from the national stone.”

    This is what all the Government Ministers and Ministers for State do, all seek to have landmark projects in their area both to mark their own time in office and to also ‘deliver the goods’ Lowery and Healy Rae just continued the same process : it is just that they had enough muscle to deliver in Ministerial proportions.

    Back again to the local, community and regional government concept : it is totally in-keeping with subsidiarily, the ideal that any over governance body do not involve itself in matters that a lesser body can do for itself. In short devolved power with the parish pump politicians dealing with the parish pump and Government Ministers Governing the country with one or two layers between.

    I have seen first hand in Southern France how empowered Local Mayors are and that is what we need, not six months debating about potholes while they get bigger but someone empowered to have them fixed in six days.

    There is also a sense of community and ownership of the infrastructure in France that is completely absent from most communities in Ireland : once you leave a village confines there is no community identification with roads etc and accordingly when these start causing serious problems they have degraded to the extent where they need serious remedial work and are really coming apart. In France a pothole in the road is everyones immediate problem who use that hamlet road and all report the pothole to the mayor.

    Well I have a boat to open up, air, and as it is a fine evening, the first mug of tea of the season to drink on the water ! Normal service will resume on Monday.