“Somebody had to make a stand for those that are struggling”

Whilst we’re waiting for the week to begin, Miriam Lord on how just now populist semiotics trumps bread and butter issues

When Mary Lou McDonald threw Gerry’s teddy bears out of the Sinn Féin pram on Thursday, she did no favours for her Dublin North Central colleague, Independent deputy Maureen O’Sullivan.

Maureen was due to represent the technical group at Leaders’ Questions, but she was prevented from speaking thanks to the antics of her fellow constituency TD.

She succeeded the late Tony Gregory in Leinster House and is known for her tireless work on behalf of the disadvantaged in Dublin’s north inner city. She had hoped to raise the issue of drastic funding cuts to the budgets of community groups working with people struggling to survive on the margins.

“Disappointing that my Leaders Questions on Communities in the Inner City was disrupted. Esp since the Water issue will be debated next week,” tweeted O’Sullivan from her office, as Mary Lou was taking to Facebook from her principled pew in the now silent chamber.

“Somebody had to make a stand for those that are struggling,” she wrote, surrounded by her fellow Sinn Féin TDs as they settled into their four-hour sit-in protest.

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  • Robin Keogh

    Barrett could have avoided the whole saga if he had of insisted the taniste answer the questions she was asked. He took a position to let her off the hook and the resulting saga was engineered by him and nobody else. I hope MLM and others continue to press government members for straight answers to straight questions a d if that means the dail gets shut down then so be it.

  • barnshee

    “If that means the dail gets shut down then so be it.”

    I like it -can you get extended to Stormont Westminster Edinburgh and Cardiff

  • Morpheus

    What a bizarre assessment of the situation. Again, here is the video of what actually happened, judge for yourself:

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/d%C3%A1il-adjourned-until-tuesday-after-mary-lou-mcdonald-sit-in-1.1999444

    Fair enough Maureen O’Sullivan didn’t get to ask her question because of the suspension but the whole thing was very easily avoided if MLM’s important questions about whether water charges would be deducted from the social welfare payments, pensions or wages of those who refused to pay the charge were actually answered.

    Surely anyone with an ounce of objectivity would agree that the questions were clear and important, they deserved clear answers, fall slap bang in the middle of “making a stand for those that are struggling” and the session should not have been suspended having gone from ‘take your seat’ to ‘get out’ in a 2 seconds flat????

  • Sliothar

    I totally agree, as I said virtually the same thing on an another thread.
    It was a valid question which needed answering. It wasn’t and the distinct impression given was that Barrett colluded with the Minister in her evasion.
    As a consequence, Mary Lou was given the equivalent of the bum’s rush.

    So what’s left if the public is denied the right to know? It’s a difficult call if you want to avoid the accusation of being a drama queen. Nonetheless, Barrett should be handed his P45 forthwith.

  • Morpheus

    It really does concern me the lengths those in Government and parts of the media are going to to try to stop SF at all costs – the very concept of objective, independent thought has obviously gone out the window.

    Do they think people are stupid? Do they think people can’t see what happened with their own eyes and make up their own minds?

    I had never heard of Barrett until the debates last week when Barrett permitted allegation after allegation after allegation against SF but when they made 1 of their own he pulled them up on it. Add that to this and it is obvious that he has serious questions to answer

  • Sliothar

    But that surely is the problem. Where SF are concerned, in the eyes of most of the MSM in Ireland, the concept of objectivity will remain that – a concept. Mind you, in fairness, SF haven’t really helped themselves in recent times. Nevertheless, they are now considered fair game for anyone and you can forget about the truth of the matter.
    These constant attacks, however, can work both ways: either 1. The mud will stick or 2. An over-reaction from the likes of the Sindo and other usual suspects will achieve nothing because of their perceived agenda.

    Gerry Moriarity indirectly boosts the latter view in his article in the IT on the weekend SDLP conference where he writes, “In the main conference room there was a sense of demoralisation and almost helplessness. How all the Maíria Cahill publicity has not damaged Sinn Féin was also adding to the dejection.”
    So was this Moriarity speaking for himself or an opinion from the conference floor?

  • Jag

    The Cover Ma in Yoghurt can’t force any Govt minister to provide a specifically directed answer. If Joan Burton chose to reply by whistling and dancing the birdy song, that’s Joan’s right, that’s her response, it’s not a respectful response, it doesn’t address the question, but that’s her right.

    On the other hand. MLM probably did choose this occasion wisely. She asked specific questions, and the social protection minister (Tanaiste Joan Burton) should have been able to respond to the deductions from social welfare question at least. Joan Burton did in fact answer the question by repeating what Enda said two days before, that all would be revealed this coming week. But given that practically all adults have been responsible for water charges for six weeks, and not a single one knows what the charge is, MLM was right to take to stand, both for her own personal career, for SInn Fein and in my opinion, good public administration.

    As for Maureen O’Sullivan (a) she’ll get her chance again and (b) she could just have submitted the question in written form. No great injustice was done to her.

    All eyes are now on what MLM will do next. She’s suspended until Wednesday but the Dail sits tomorrow from 2pm. If MLM turns up, the ushers will try to exclude her, but if she manages to take her seat, the Can of Cola will have no choice but to suspend business.

  • Morpheus

    Sinn Fein are not exempt from criticism and what they say/do does deserve to be put under the microscope but stories like this are absolutely ridiculous. They need to be treated the same as another party and their shortcomings exposed that way rather than going to laughable lengths as this story does. Because of rubbish like this when real mud comes along it won’t stick as a result.

    What you say about the SDLP is very telling. They are not upset on behalf of what happened to Ms Cahill but upset that things didn’t work out to their advantage. Quite a few fall into this category.

  • mac tire

    Actually, Maureen O’Sullivan was on The Week in Politics yesterday and confirmed she was disappointed she did not get to ask her question.
    She also informed viewers that not answering questions has become an art form in the Dáil. She pointed out that Mary Lou was “unquestionably” right to be unhappy at the way her questions were being addressed.
    She conceded though that this happens a lot and SF should have adhered to the subsequent vote. However, she expressed puzzlement about how An Ceann Comhairle intervenes on certain issues but never about how answers are given. Deputy O’Sullivan called for reform of how the speaker acts.

    Whether people like it or nor, Mary Lou also had “a right to make a stand for those that are struggling.”

  • kalista63

    isn’t it what the DUP do in committees when Nelson, or whomever, is in the keek?

  • Zeno3

    I can’t wait to hear the questions asked of SF Ministers if they get into government.

  • Jag

    Christmas has come early for your Zeno, take a look at Hansard for Stormont.

    Of course ministers bluster and stonewall, that’s what they do, but from time to time, they get it so wrong that a landmark protest is warranted; on this occasion, I think MLM judged it well.

  • Michael-Henry Mcivor

    Miriam Lord-Lol- May The Lord have mercy-

    In most other country’s the Journalists would lay into any Government that wanted to introduce water charges to the People-not here- the people are giving government a hard time of it but the press are standing with the Government –

    A Government minister was asked if water charges were going to be removed directly from the wage packet if the water charge bill was not paid and the minister refused to answer the Question-( but this journalist could only decry the TD who asked the Question and had not a cross word about the government proposal-)- May The Lord save us-

  • sean treacy

    Miriam Lord couldnt even get her facts right.Mary Lou and Maureen both represent DUBLIN CENTRAL.Also I dont think Tony Gregory would have opposed Mary Lou’s actions.Tony was a republican to the core.

  • Zeno3

    Why has Christmas come early for me?

  • Peter Mc Evoy

    That was most certainly not the opinion from the floor we have more important matters to talk about. We are wondering though why SF are able to fool ALL of the people ALL of the time especially when they pull stupid stunts like Mary Lou to avoid questions on Child Abuse/rape

  • Sliothar

    Peter, take it up with G Moriarity for it was he who wrote it. However, your final sentence absolutely hits the nail of Morpheus’ interpretation of Moriarty’s view – that the SDLP are ‘upset that things didn’t work out to their advantage’. ‘Very telling’ indeed!

  • Peter Mc Evoy

    It still is very strange when the ‘decent people’ of a Country vote in such numbers for a Party which supports and is part of an organisation which has and continues to wreck so much pain and destruction on their Country. However there is a precedent, look at Germany in 1930s and that was during a depression also.
    I suppose drowning men/women will grasp at any straw !!

  • Sliothar

    @Peter McEvoy

    Peter, I am not a member of nor do I
    hold any brief for SF but I feel like saying, ‘Calm down, Dear’ after
    that little rant of yours re their alleged fascism. You’d nearly think
    you were applying for the post of an op-ed writer in the Sindo. I know they’d be proud to have you on board! Throw the muck without a shred of
    evidence and hope it sticks. They’ve been doing that for years.

    Anyway, I took up this topic to
    state that IMO the reporting on SF by some elements in the MSM and
    members of the Southern government and establishment can and do say what
    they like, make all sorts of allegations against SF without any
    proof whatever and that it appeared to go unchallenged. You would appear to be
    in the same camp. That’s fine, it’s your prerogative but, AFAIK, this
    part of the world still operates free and open elections. So, what’s your beef?

    The fact that
    the SDLP has been, and still is, going down the tubes for some time is down to you,
    your leader and SDLP policies in general. In addition, the more
    important fact that the good Doctor only commands a 36% confidence vote
    within his own party (Alan in Belfast’s post of 17 Nov) cannot in any
    way be levelled at Sinn Fein. You and the SDLP alone are failing to get your
    message across. The electorate isn’t listening.

    Finally, dissing the ‘decent people’ (as you call them)
    of the North who do vote for SF seems to me to be a very strange
    strategy to get your votes back. SF should most certainly be called to
    account for their shortcomings but labelling them as Nazis and, by implication, their very sizeable electorate is not going to do anything to help the SDLP out of their ever deepening hole. Stop digging, for God’s sake!

  • Peter Mc Evoy

    Sliothar…for a non party member ,you put up the usual SF defense,you will be saying I am an “enemy of the Peace Process”next. The same process which Gerry now claims as his and Martin’s exclusively. I could if I had the time and space list some facts from the past which would give any reasonable person great cause for concern but plenty has been written about that,smashed lives,smashed hopes but even if you overlook all that history(big ask) Look at SF record in the north…. If you don’t believe me look at, for instance West Belfast,Highest unemployment,lowest educational achievement, highest benefit dependence,lowest life expectancy and who has been representing the area for last 30 years none other than S F in the person of Gerry Adams then tell me what qualifies him to be considered as a future Taoiseach

  • Sliothar

    Yadda-yadda-yadda, Peter. If you’d care to read why I replied to this topic in the first place instead of launching into a poor imitation of Sindo/FG rhetoric and increasingly the SDLP’s, you might understand what I’ve said so far. I’m not here to defend or promote SF, I was merely observing the complete lack of objectivity and truthfulness from certain sections of the body politic and MSM when speaking about them. To date, you’ve only helped to reinforce that view.
    Concentrate on why you’re losing votes, it would be of more benefit to your party.

  • Peter Mc Evoy

    When you talk about others for not having objectivity and truthfulness,show me those qualities in SF and maybe I’ll take you seriously.We are still prepared to take up the victims case and continue to remind people like you of what SF have done to them while you by your very reaction to my post, obviously could not care less

  • Sliothar

    Peter, these will be my final words on this issue. Once again I took up this topic for one reason only which I have repeated several times. Obviously you’re haven’t listened and so choose to ignore my point for your own party political objectives. That’s fine as far as it goes. But may I say in passing, I have been an SDLP voter since Adam was a wee lad. They have received my 1st, 2nd or 3rd pref votes depending on the election and the quality of the candidate. I also voted for most other pro-Agreement parties until some started to retrench into their sectarian laagers.

    However, in recent years I have been totally disillusioned with the SDLP, although they still got my vote. No longer. I cannot subscribe to their increasingly right-wing, fundamentalist Catholic views – especially on the question of the woman’s right to choose although there are several other important issues as well. They are virtually leaderless, with a busted flush at their head; they fail to inspire and their only growth area is their increasingly strident vocal opposition to the success of Sinn Fein. They do not appear to have any policies which the average punter can support and are haemorrhaging
    voters at a rate which is threatening their very survival.

    You can howl at the moon all you like on the failures of SF
    in various fields, and on that I would agree with you, but you have to come up with an alternative and a POSITIVE one at that. Whinging into your beer is just not gonna win elections and banging on about past misdeeds by members or associates of SF just doesn’t seem to interest the voting public. They’re not listening to you.

    Yes, of course, SF have a lot to answer for but how are you
    going to convince Joe or Josephine Public to vote SDLP. Calling them Nazis for voting SF is not going to win friends. Nor, for that matter, are your feeble attempts of trying to put YOUR words into MY mouth.

  • Peter Mc Evoy

    Sliothar….This is my final word also. May I first of all say that I totally mus-understood where you were coming from and have to agree with much of your last posting
    apart from the fact that I did not call any voter a Nazi mearly pointed out to SF voters the Fasist nature of the Party they are voting for(and where it led before) that said I will conceed that we have not offered voters clear and credible alternatives and as time has passed SDLP is tired and does not have the same funds as SF to get their message out,whatever that message is.All we can hope for now as I enter my 70th year, is that a new day will dawn and I just hope that people do not have to go through what people had to endure when Politics failed in the past.

    a chara Peter