* ‘Quality in preference to quantity’ and ‘evidence of value for money’ must be the two ‘vitals’ for a reformed new government. read full article
MORE hairshirt budgets are in prospect after the Central Bank urged the Government not to let up on austerity and Finance Minister Michael Noonan admitted next year’s cuts and taxes wil read full article
She says Labour is allowing Fine Gael to pursue endless austerity policies which go against the party’s core values.
“The policy of austerity is discredited in Europe and, increasingly, at home,” she wrote, saying those policies are a “profoundly immoral way to run our country”.
Ms Childers said she had increasingly found herself discouraged and prevented from advocating a distinctive social democratic position within the Labour party.
“While I have remained constant in my views, the Labour leadership has drifted away from a progressive policy approach,” she wrote.
“My attitude is vilified as disloyal or opportunistic when, in fact, I am defending and promoting the party’s core values.”
The MEP for Leinster resigned from the Labour Parliamentary Party in April.
Last April, Minister of State for Small Business John Perry wrote to the chief executives of Bank of Ireland and AIB asking them to meet a Government advisory group and set out their positions on funding small and medium-sized enterprises, and how they dealt with SMEs with distressed loans.
“It is imperative that we listen to the voice of small business,” said Perry. Indeed when Taoiseach Enda Kenny appointed him to the ministerial ranks it was because of Perry’s “understanding of small business”.
The extent of Perry’s understanding of distressed loans in the SME sector became clearer yesterday when the Sligo politician and his wife, Marie, consented in the Commercial Court to a judgment of €2.47 million against them in favour of Danske Bank
The debt related to a €2.42 million loan advanced to the couple in October 2011, which itself was a restructuring of existing loans. To use the phrase made infamous by the Anglo Irish recordings, Perry as the relevant Minister had skin in the game.
The court proceedings disclosed that security and collateral on the loan included the Stone Park Restaurant, Perry’s Hardware shop in the politician’s home town ofBallymote, Co Sligo, as well as 50 acres of agricultural land.
The Fine Gael politician did not make himself available for comment yesterday and a spokeswoman said: “The matter remains before the court and he will not be making any comment until [proceedings are concluded].”
Registration of the judgment is scheduled for September 2nd. The Perrys had sought a three-month stay on the registration to allow them seek a resolution but counsel for Danske Bank objected on the grounds that they had had ample time to do so.
The judgment will create major political problems for Perry and might even cast a strong doubt on his future status as a TD. Officially the Government will make no comment about the case but privately officials have said it is a private matter for the Minister of State that does not impinge on his public duties in Government.
He will be the second Minister in the past year to have his financial affairs exposed to scrutiny, following the inclusion of Minister for Health James Reilly’s name in Stubbs’ Gazette. Politically, however, the judgment will have more ramifications for Perry.
He is, after all, the Minister for Small Business. And in his position, can he credibly call – as he did last April – for the chief executives of the country’s biggest banks to explain their position on distressed loans to an advisory group of which he is a member when he himself is in that category? The Dáil is in recess but will be returning within a fortnight of the judgment being registered.
Is the Catholic Church’s hard line on abortion legislation an acceptance that its influence over the Irish state is over? « The Secular Society
Here are some interesting twists in the abortion debate in the Republic. As Michael Kelly of the Irish Catholic newspaper noted yesterday Armagh’s new-boy-to-be Eamonn Martin has been clear in ways his soon-to-be predecessor Sean Brady never was. As he also added, Rome will be pleased.And as Kelly rightly observes, polls can be wrong, especially if there is a referendum coming up: Nevertheless, the latest MRBI/IPOSOS poll on whether there should be legislation as opposed to guidelines is still pretty overwhelmingly in favour…Asked if they were for or against the heads of the Bill to legislate for the Supreme Court X judgment of 1992 permitting abortion where a mother’s life is in danger, 75 per cent said Yes, 14 per cent said No and 11 per cent had no opinion.Supporters of both Coalition parties were the strongest backers of the legislation with 79 per cent of Fine Gael voters favour; 78 per cent of Labour; 77 per cent of Sinn Féin and 74 per cent of Fianna Fáil supporters.People over 65 were the least enthusiastic about the legislation with 60 per cent in favour and 26 per cent against. The 25 to 34 age group was the most strongly in favour but there were large majorities across all age cohorts.The best-off social categories were strongest in support of legislation while farmers and the poorest DE social group were the least enthusiastic. The thing is that there won’t be a referendum on this issue. The referendum will be in the chamber, and this is where the church’s rather intemperate (not to mention very general) threat of ex communication was aimed. And it has caused a lot of difficulty. Micheal Martin had intended to march his party through on a whip, but was the first to relax and for the first time in his party’s history allowed his TDs have a free vote. We’ll see later on whether there are consequences to letting ‘soldiers of destiny’ have such a free hand. Meanwhile Enda Kenny, posing as the most unlikely secular hero in the history of the state is choosing the book of statute over the book of church law and in the process denying a party a free vote that’s been accustomed to having one in times past. The world turned upside down? Political insiders argue that the church could have chosen a more conciliatory line on the X case legislation. And that in alienating the political classes they may stand in future to have fewer allies when it comes to defending the real bulwark against abortion in the constitution if the current drift towards secularism continues: Article 40. 3. 3° The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right. That, the Church may calculate, may a price worth paying in order to save its own spiritual soul. There appears to be two way commerce going on here. In taking a much harder, fundamentalist line the Church is finding more coherence in its own moral arguments, whilst accepting, perhaps that its influence on matters of state in Ireland are long since over. With Thanks to Mick Fealty, via Is the Catholic Church’s hard line on abortion legislation an acceptance that its influence over the Irish state is over? « The Secular Society.
The tactical astuteness of Fine Gael TDs opposed to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill is impressive. Rather than confront Taoiseach Enda Kenny in a single, explosive challenge to his leadership, they have eked out their resistance in the hope of securing legislative amendments or, at least, the prospect of early party forgiveness. By staggering their challenge, they have sought to minimise the offence created. Any doubt has been removed by already expelled individuals who insist they are not members of a cabal and who aspire to represent Fine Gael in the future. While the Bill is being debated, the scale of eventual opposition remains uncertain. On the basis of a recent Irish Times opinion poll, which showed general Fine Gael support for legislation at 79 per cent and opposition at 16 per cent, the defecting deputies could number between six and nine. Public opinion, however, is not always reflected in the pattern of Dáil voting. The tyranny of the party whip and the prospect of expulsion and career damage are powerful conditioning factors while, on the other hand, a free vote encourages outside interests to apply pressure and for TDs to engage in vote-poaching at constituency level. How else to explain the Fianna Fáil vote? Party leader Micheál Martin showed a deal of courage when he spoke in favour of the Government Bill and said it would provide necessary protection for the lives of women and fulfil Constitutional and international requirements. Having secured a free vote, however, his colleagues opted for traditional opposition tactics and 13 out of 19 voted against the measure. If opinion within Fianna Fáil is taken as a template, no more than four TDs should have rejected the Bill on the grounds of conscience. Their actions appear to have been an attempt to target unhappy Fine Gael, Labour Party and Sinn Féin voters while, at the same time, signalling concern with Mr Martin’s style of leadership. Willie O’Dea was quick to declare his support for Mr Martin, even as he struggled to explain his position on the legislation. A Second Stage vote is normally regarded as being on the principles of a Bill. Mr O’Dea supported the principles of the Bill but voted against it, explaining that if a review clause was introduced at a later stage he might change his mind. An equally unconvincing approach was adopted by European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton and by a number of her Fine Gael colleagues. They rejected the principles underlying the Bill but voted for it on the grounds that it might be amended. Support for this legislation is remarkably uniform across all political parties. When Catholic Church pressure failed to ramp up Fine Gael defections, a majority of Fianna Fáil TDs went in search of disaffected voters. It’s what drives politics.
John Perry, the Fine Gael Minister for Small Business, is being taken to court by Danske Bank which is seeking repayment of close to €1.3m in loans racked up during the property boom.
The Sligo TD owns a number of businesses and properties in and around his Ballymote power base. The latest register of Oireachtas members’ interests lists his assets as including a supermarket, apartment, funeral home, 70 acres of land in various locations and offices in Ballymote and Sligo town.
If he has any sense of decency John Perry a Minister who has blatantly lied to his constituents and is being taken to court for nonpayment of debts should immediately resign his seat. However it is unliky that this arragant ywat will do so.
Generally, this man only opens his mouth to change the foot he has wedged in there. When the two feet are not at home, he comes out with gems that do not inspire confidence… “There must be assistance for small businesses that are creating unemployment throughout the country”(Dáil speech).
Rest assured this man will do nothing concrete to stimulate the retail sector where approx 40,000 jobs have been lost in the past five years. Regretfully due to Government policies, many more localized jobs are uncertain due to the inactivity of this no-getter. Even so, then again, what can you expect from a man who cannot even get around to fixing the local potholes?
John the Promise in another open-mouthed gesture guaranteed the restoration of Breast cancer services to Sligo General hospital within 100 days of Government. During a live interview with Ocean FM concerning the return of cancer services to the North West of Ireland. Perry hung up the phone when questioned on his failure to deliver on his promise. He claimed that the presenter had an agenda against him. What a cringing cop out, what paucity of thought. Perhaps a taste of things to come – A true-blue arrogant fascist to the end.
I have just done this man a slight disservice for I understand he is a high flier when it comes to claiming the few bob.
For expenses in his first twelve months, this man topped the bill. Among his colleagues, he is known as the King of uncertified reimbursement.
In conclusion, what can one say about Perry? Maybe he is a bit like the invisible man. Could you pick him out from a line-up of expense villains? That folk is the story of Perry the obscure, invisible before the election and unseen after it just waiting for his Bisto pension.
Why are demos and riots breaking out all over? It’s the economy stupid. But Newsnight’s Paul Mason has a contemporary twist, writing in the Independent to give a taster for his book Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions’ Velocity of information matters as much as action itself. It is striking how badly…
But when one notes that;
(A) The gardai wanted to test him for drink-driving so they must have formed a suspiction about him.
(C) He obviously invoked Dail privilege, there was no reason for him to mention where he was coming from otherwise.
I’d say on the balance of probabilities it looks like Shatter was in breach of the law on that day and weaselled out of it. Though we can’t know this for certain.
I’d hope that those who pounced on the ‘hypocrisy’ of Ming and Wallace will be as zealous about exposing the contradictions of Shatter’s stance.
For one thing his humbuggery about being so keen to stick the boot into political opponents because he wants to protect the good name of the Gardai rings a bit hollow given that (A) he dropped the Commissioner into the shit to save his own face and (B) his love obviously isn’t requited given that they’ve just dropped him into it.
He’s a petty little bully who wouldn’t be tolerated in office anywhere else. But let’s watch Gilmore and the Labour Party suck it up as they show their unlimited capacity to endure humiliation.
A Festival of Cruelty curated by as pure a curmudgeon as ever sprang from Eire’s grassy hills. Culturalfatwa looks beyond the haranguing to the true message of Tonight with Vincent Browne.
By any measure Tonight with Vincent Browne at the unearthly hour of 11pm on TV3 is a weird yet wonderful phenomenon. In fact, in a political landscape almost completely devoid of genuine debate, it might just be said to be unique.
Stranger still the fishies that swarm and nibble about in the associated twitter hashtag, #vinb. Here extreme lefty meets dedicated republican, hard core begrudger and random Twitter smartarse, and all on a roughly even footing. Within this tag swim small schools of wrigglers of the anti-bailout right (the Karl Wheelan/Paul Somerville shoal for want of a better term), and occasionally, even in these shallows, drifting thoughtlessly under a bridge you hear a faint shout, “TROLL!” Too late! A doughty rock lobster of the Fianna Fáil, Labour or (horror) Fine Gael variety has you held in its vice-like claws.
The #vinb tag, rightly described recently on Twitter by @soundmigration as a genuine social/sociological phenomenon, would repay study – maybe someone is already on it?
Moving out of ‘virtual pools’ for a moment what we have is simply a TV panel show presided over by the mighty Vincenzo. It’s extraordinarily hard to describe to the uninitiated this man of (apparently) lefty-liberal leanings. Of course his arsenal of ticks, shudders and eye-browy moves and gestures have been well mimicked, if not quite equalled, by the short-lived Mario Rosenstock sketches on the show. But beyond the baleful sighs and the eyes up to a heaven he doesn’t believe in, to a god that’s not taking calls, Vincenzo is as pure a curmudgeon as ever sprang from Eire’s grassy hills.
Besides a photographic memory stretching back eons there is his most dreadful weapon, the phrase “Just answer the question”. So strong is this stinger that it seems to have been the main reason that the Troika refused to meet either opposition or press on their last tour of inspection. It is deployed with limpet-like tenacity, the hapless victim (be they left, right or centre) is allowed to blather on at will for a brief period. Then “the question”.
“The question” is always of a “have you stopped beating your wife?” nature. It might be nice to think that a simple yes/no could be returned as an answer, but that would be far too easy! Rarely has the harried victim even the microseconds to draw breath, yet alone stretch to audible sound. “The question” is always completely ‘loaded’, entirely and intricately of arch Vincenzo design and almost never, ever, drawn from whatever has been the media pre-approved ‘argument’ or ‘side’ in any particular debate.
Some choice examples of this include asking Leo Varadkar, “Why did you put the ‘gun to head clause’ in the preamble to the Fiscal Compact Treaty?” (he also deployed this particular bludgeon during the first Compact Treaty debate with Micheál Martin and Simon Covney), asking Troika member Klaus Masuch, “did your taxi driver tell you how the Irish people are bewildered that we are required to pay unguaranteed bondholders billions of Euros for debts that the Irish people have no relation to or no bearing with, primarily to bail out or to ensure the solvency of European banks? And if the taxi driver had asked you that question, what would have been your response? That’s my first question”, or September’s evisceration of the hapless Kieran O’Donnell, “are you proud of what your party colleague, Phil Hogan, did in this instance – reassuring or assuring neighbours in this area that a Traveller family wouldn’t be housed in that area?”.
There are many other things that you are liable to see on Tonight with Vincent Browne that you will never see anywhere else on the Irish airways or, possibly, anywhere in the world.
There are the Festivals of Cruelty or bloodings, horrible rituals in which one of the major political parties supplies a young innocent for the specific purpose of a verbal savaging by Vincenzo. This seems to be based on the misguided notion that the victim will be steeled/tempered or toughened in some way. The repeat throwing of FG TD Paschal Donohoe into the metal box shows that particular theory up as a complete non-starter. The casual savaging of doe-eyed Paschal only seems to draw him back for more and at times even this seasoned anarchist antichrist feels like throwing a towel into the ring on his behalf. Seasoned ministers and party leaders generally will not be found even accidentally within a 50 mile radius of Vincenzo under any circumstances. In our lovely wee democracy in the year 2012 they are basically terrified of a ‘mere’ TV presenter. This is, obviously, hella cool.
There are times when an ‘ordinary head’, be they homemaker or community activist, is allowed to spout forth at and, occasionally, annihilate some stuffed shirt or other. There are times when an academic or expert is called out, though mind you one or two (Diarmuid Ferriter springs to mind) take to it like ducks to water. There are live embedded outside broadcasts from within protests ignored elsewhere on the airwaves. They have a presenter who reads viewers’ tweets, texts and comments out live, later reproducing them fully credited on a blog (politico.ie), responding in detail and often using that to generate debate in future shows.
This show never so much ends as fizzles out – usually in a bad-tempered, inconclusive and incoherent morass. Each ending is a tiny, beautiful example of another glib and easy closure (the sine non qua of most political broadcasts), deliberately and successfully elided. As a resigned Vicenzo stares directly into the void and mumbles something about the weather forecast the message is clear: if there is to be resolution or closure, indeed change of any stamp, it’s gonna have to come from out there beyond the TV screen, from you (yes, you!), the humble viewer.
Sligo’s junior minister John Perry TD has been harshly criticized after he claimed in the Dáil that many Irish were “emigrating by choice.”
The TD said he knew people who were “delighted” to be emigrating to the US and Canada for work.
His own south Sligo town, Ballymote, has seen many ‘American wakes’ in recent years with one weekend last year seeing the emigration of six young men followed the following weekend by another four forced to move.
Local GAA clubs have lost a signicant number of young players to the scourge of emigration with some having to suspend under-manned teams.
According to official CSO figures, over 87,000 people left Ireland in the year leading up to April 2012, with emigration surging to levels not experienced since the famine. 1,600 people are emigrating every single month. That is nine people leaving the country every single hour.
Perry, the Minister of State for Small Business, was answering questions from the opposition and specifically claims from Sinn Féin that nine people are emigrating from the State every hour when he said, “There are people emigrating by choice. I know several young people who will be quite delighted to go to the United States if they can get in, or to Canada if they have the required qualifications.”
Opposition TDs said most workers would be happier at home but Perry argued that there was a certain balance “for highly educated people, emigration was a matter of choice.”
Perry said the Government was doing its best to sort out the economy but “one cannot just wave a magic wand.”
His comments were described as offensive and disingenuous by opposition TDs with Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary saying that most of those who had emigrated “would be happier here at home”.
Sinn Féin jobs spokesman Peadar Tóibín criticized Perry’s comments, saying: “Most emigration is forced emigration.”
“It is astonishing that a minister in the Department of Jobs is that detached from reality to claim that those emigrating do so from personal choice.”
Bríd O’Brien of the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed responded, “People of all age groups are emigrating because there’s no work here.
“We’ve lost an awful lot of jobs. I think a lot are leaving because they feel they have to.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Youth Affairs Senator Kathryn Reilly has called on Minister of State John Perry to apologise to those young people and their families who have been forced to emigrate to find work.
Senator Reilly said, “The majority of emigrants are under 25 years of age. They are leaving in search of work. They are leaving because Fine Gael and Labour have failed to invest in job creation.
“For Minister of State Perry top suggest that these people are choosing to leave is an insult to them and to their families.
“Minister of State Perry should apologise to these young people and to their families, not only for his insulting comments, but also for his Government’s failure to address the youth unemployment and emigration crisis.”
Tomorrow Is Perry the worst Minister of State Ever?
Was away over Easter in a far flung part of this island. But, was able to get the Sunday Business Post in its print edition and what did I read? Nothing but good news there… no, excuse me, not so good news. For the headline read:
Austerity to end by 2016 but ten years of tight budgets to come.
And reading further it was hard to see how one could differentiate between the pre-2016 and post-2016 era. Actually it’s interesting how it was phrased. Some will recall that the narrative has been shaped by a ‘spending beyond our means’ line and how cuts and austerity were not merely necessary but actually good. But the report notes that 2016 will ‘show the end of huge cuts to public spending and tax increases in 2016’. Which is interesting in that at least the scale of said cuts is unvarnished.
In effect his this will mean that the government finances will remain extremely tight for another decade, during which time they will be overseen by European authorities.
This being the case it does make something of a mockery of all the talk of ‘regaining our sovereignty’ does it not? For if sovereignty meant anything it fundamentally means the capability to make our own decisions and allow for those being both good and bad. Though it’s hard to argue that the actual situation will be good, in the context of said European supervision.
And there’s more.
There will be little or no scope for spending increases beyond the rate of economic growth nor will there be resources for tax cuts.
Let’s put the latter to one side, that being the SBP’s trope of the day, every day, but let’s note that once austerity has done its magic nothing changes. Literally nothing. We will be locked into a permanent 2016, or near enough permanent. It’s hardly worth dragging out the growth and stimulus argument, we’re all well aware of it at this stage, but this has effects beyond the economic.
For a start it suggests a complete shutting down of alternative economic policy options. What is political contest in a state which has in itself decided that there can be no change, and worse again is constrained by the EU and others in this. This provides both challenge and opportunity for those who would argue otherwise, for almost every argument in that context is an oppositional one, and if not revolutionary – after all, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, it is one that provides a direct push back against the orthodoxy and the status quo.
That’s, in a sense, the broader context, but more narrowly this has significant ramifications.
One obvious follow on from this is that this must spell ruin to Labour’s ambitions of a recovery, and not very good news at all for Fine Gael, for despite all their right of centre tilting they are as aware as any Fianna Fáil member of the necessity to disburse something to the citizenry, and how, at the end of the near enough decade of austerity that need will be greater again.
Indeed it suggests that the messages both FG and LP can craft are minimal in terms of their attractiveness for the post-2016 period.
Now granted none of this is new, we’ve known broadly the parameters that the state will operate under for quite some time, but now it is beginning to come into sharper focus. Particularly as a sense that economic growth is quite some way off.
But if one thinks that’s it, what of this last weekend’s news, again from the SBP that:
The fund states that this could happen in a “downside scenario” when slow growth would hit the property market. It believes this would increase bank mortgage loses and hamper Nama’s ability to dispose of its mammoth loan book.
The IMF has also called for more EU help for Ireland, warning that, if economic growth does not recover as expected, the national debt will quickly rise to unsustainable levels. The warning places further pressure on the European Union to ease the terms of the €40 billion it has advanced to Ireland through as part of the bailout.
Thing is we’re living in precisely that ‘downside scenario’. Only this weekend the Central Bank revised growth forecasts downwards yet again.
Now the IMF is an unreliable operation, in so far as it often appears to be speaking out of both sides of its mouth simultaneously. Nor is it’s ‘good cop’ to the ECB/EU ‘bad cop’ routine entirely convincing. Yet there is a consistency now to its refrain that growth must be supported. But contextualise its thoughts with those already outline above and far from things looking as if they’re getting better it would appear that stagnation, is at best, the light at the end of the tunnel.
The local health service couldn’t be in better shape.
That, at least, was the message delivered by Fine Gael TD James Bannon despite evidence last week which indicated trolley logjams were back with a vengeance with over 300 people in hospitals without a bed.
Rather, Mr Bannon pointed to significant reductions in waiting times and the spectre of a new Longford primary care centre as reasons to be optimistic going forward.
“On taking office two years ago, Minister (James) Reilly committed to overhauling the health service from the crisis state it was left in by the previous Fianna Fáíl-led Government, to a world class service that the people of this country deserve.
“While it won’t happen overnight, there has been significant progress made so far with a 73 per cent reduction for patients waiting three months for treatment, a 79 per cent reduction for those waiting six months, a 97 per cent reduction for those waiting nine months, and a 100 per cent decrease for those waiting on treatment for more than twelve months.”
Mr Bannon chose not to refer to the 312 patients left on trolleys last Wednesday (March 27) at various hospitals nationwide. “Since the end of February 2011, waiting lists longer than a year for inpatient and day case procedures have been eliminated in 15 hospitals and waiting lists longer than nine months for these procedures have been eliminated in nine hospitals,” he said.