Why not to Vote Fianna Fail or Greens next January

Brian Cowen's signature.
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One paragraph from yesterdays Observer’s Editorial should be memorised and remembered for a long time.

Much of that story is familiar from other countries caught out by the credit crunch. But Ireland’s unique misfortune is to have, in Brian Cowen’s Fianna Fáil government, leaders who shipwrecked the economy and then capsized the lifeboats. The initial crisis response in 2008 was designed in such a way as effectively to absorb the doomed banking sector into the state, with no safeguards for taxpayers. While fitting as a kind of poetic commentary on what had happened in the boom years, as policy it was insane. Every cent of tax revenue disappeared down a black hole of debt; a ballooning budget deficit demanded brutal austerity measures – public sector cuts, tax rises – which drained any remaining cash out of the economy and prolonged recession.

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Zombie Banks, Zombie Government, Zombie Taoiseach

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Its finally happened. The Green Party have called time on the Government, but won’t resign until after the Finance act has been passed. Jackie Healy-Rae also has announced he will not be supporting the Government. Cork North Central TD, Noel O’Flynn, is tonight meeting with supporters to decide his future.

This has been a long time coming and with the election due in January, expect canvassing to start in earnest in the next week or two. Also will Fianna Fail be fighting this General Election with a new leader?

With the By-Election on Thursday, it will be a hard task to get the budget passed. Especially by a Government with could either be described as a “lame duck” Government or a “zombie” Government.

What can we expect from this budget? Well according to the Cork Evening Echo we could have the following:

  • Social Welfare Payments (except Old Age Pension) down 5%
  • Minimum Wage down €1
  • All income to be taxed
  • A property tax

Will this be enough? Or will this bring us further down as if the low-paid are to be taxed, they wont have money to spend and therefore support the economy.

Is it worth Fianna Fail’s time to pass the budget? Is it worth Cowen’s time to stay on as Taoiseach to pass it or should he just hand over to his successor (Lenihan or Martin??). I’m sure who ever wins the general election will probably have a mini-budget in April-May. Should we hold off until then?

In the meantime its time to dust off the walking shoes and prepare for a long and cold campaign.

In the meantime prepare yourself for plenty of protests.

*Title taken from a tweet by Cllr John Buttimer

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Pinning the Blame on the Bankers?

A new crime is set to be established in Ireland if the Oireachtas pass a bill that Senator and Chairman of the Green Party, Dan Boyle, is planning to introduce. This bill would establish the crime of “financial treason”.

He said in a press release (taken from Corkpolitics.ie)

“Among the many reasons why there has been no action taken against known individuals working in Irish financial institutions whose greed and recklessness have brought us to where we are is that properly defined legislation seems to be lacking in defining this kind of white collar crime and fraud.

“I believe that there should be an offence of financial treason, carrying a mandatory sentence and huge fines, that would be applicable to defined individuals working in financial institutions licensed by the Irish State.

“There would be convictions on foot of any decision made knowingly by such individuals that result in reputational damage for the country, an unacceptable economic cost, or a loss of economic sovereignty.

“While much public anger has a political focus, and much of this is justified, the inability to bring to justice those whose self-interest and greed so undermined our national wellbeing, is something that must end, and end soon,”

This is all well and good and of course is populism at the highest order. If this was to be implemented, it wouldn’t change anything. No trials would take place, no fines given and certainly no one jailed.

Why?

Because this law cannot be retrospective. You cannot be tried for something that was not a crime when you committed it. Any trial that did take place would fall, as the “mens rea”, or the criminal intent, would not exist.

Despite this, I do hope this bill passes as it will allow us to hold bankers and others responsible for their actions. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about the past, unless they have broken existing law.

A Question of Trust?

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Senator Dan Boyle, Chairman of the Green Party, has tweeted the following:

There is a questioning of trust and an adding to uncertainty that is making the basis for being in government much more difficult.

Are we about to see a General Election? Will the Greens pull out?

Reuters has picked up on this story also. I wonder will the EU-IMF be putting pressure on the Greens too stay in government?

Election.ie is rightly asking where is John Gormley during all this?

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The Green Party Sharing their mailing list?

Twice in the last week I have received e-mails from Fathers.ie in relation to their latest campaign. Now this is not normally an issue for me, but it is because they are to my private email account. That is something I do not want.

Most press releases I receive are to the email account associated with this blog, (that is stephen(at)stephenspillane(dot)com) and I don’t mind that. That is what it is for. To receive stories, requests, ideas and press releases. All of which are gladly received to that account.

The first email arrived on the 11th of November from one of their members. So I sent back an email asking for my email to be removed from their database as I had not signed up to it, and it beings my personal account.

Today I received another email from Fathers.ie. And I was about to send another email asking me to removed when I noticed this sentence at the end of the email

This email was sent to <email address removed> from the Green Party

Why is the Green Party giving my email address to this charity? As I understand it, they are being supported by the Green Party, but why were they given my email address?

Surely that isn’t proper use of personal data?

I am very annoyed with the Green Party’s use of this data.

Note: The Green Party was given my personal account, as it was a friend who signed me up for that list with my permission.

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Hunting

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Firstly I apologise for the lack of posting recently, I have been under pressure with College and work and other commitments.

Anyway, today I was asked in an email about my stance on the attempt by Green Party Leader and Minister for the Environment  to ban hunting in Ireland. Specifically the Meath Stag Hunt.

Personally I am against Stag hunting. These are wonderful creatures. They are so beautiful and serene, we should be preserving them for future and for our  visitors to see.

On the other hand fox hunting is something I am not sure about. Some people think they are pests, other think they are part of the eco-system and need to be protected.

This video has me in two minds about  hunting them!

Though the action of some hunts can make them hard to defend.

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Sargent resigns

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The Statement:

Statement by Trevor Sargent TD

A Ceann Chomhairle, I thank you for the opportunity to explain to the House the circumstances of the clinic enquiry I received in June 2008 relating to an assault in September 2007 which were partially reported in the media this afternoon.

A victim of an assault came to me to voice his frustration at the slow progress being made with a case where he alleged he had been head-butted when he told me he had reported vandalism to parents of a child he had seen trying to remove a road sign in their housing estate.

My intention was to ensure the Gardaí were aware I had received a representation from a victim in an alleged assault and that the full preparation of the case would benefit from witnesses not yet interviewed being interviewed before proceeding further. The victim was afraid for his safety, meanwhile.

I accept however that although my actions in contacting An Garda Siochána were not a criminal offence, under Section 6 of the Prosecutions of Offences Act 1974 such a communication could be deemed not lawful. In this regard, I accept I made an error of judgement. Accordingly I hereby tender my resignation forthwith as Minister of State for Food and Horticulture.

Green Party Leader, John Gormley also issued a statement:

“I am greatly saddened by Trevor Sargent’s decision to resign as Minister of State.

“There is nobody in Leinster House – or in Irish politics generally – whom I admire more than Trevor. He has brought a unique mix of ability and talent, decency and honesty to Irish public life.

“Trevor’s departure is all the more difficult because he is more than just a colleague, he is a trusted friend and confidant.

“I note that in tendering his resignation he has acted promptly and without any self interest. That is totally in keeping with his approach to politics and the contribution he has made across the past four decades.

“Trevor will continue to serve the people of Dublin North as their TD with the same total dedication he has shown since June 1992. He will be missed from the Green Party team in government but he will continue to work closely with his parliamentary party colleagues.”

I didn’t see that coming… I think he was set up. But it doesn’t reflect well on a government which is obviously at war with itself!

How long more will it last?

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Sargent in trouble now

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So now Trevor Sargent is accused of acting improperly in a criminal case. The Minister of State is the latest in a long line of accusations to have hit the Government. The latest of course being the resignation of Willie O’Dea.

While many would have assumed the Green Party were above all this type of stuff but it turns out, being in Government with Fianna Fail may have taught them some bad habits.

If Sargent was still the Leader of the Green Party there would be calls for his resignation, but as he isn’t I don’t think there will be that much pressure. Of course FF may ask for his resignation to get back at the Greens for forcing O’Dea out, but then that would be hypocritical in the extreme!!

Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan has called for his resignation, and the Green Party Chairman, Dan Boyle,  is defending him saying

“I know he’s a decent and honourable man and he’ll act accordingly.”
So there will be no tweet looking for his resignation!
Trever Sargent will make an statement on the matter this evening in the Dáil.
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Ahern, Coughlan and O’Dea.

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So what do three of the above have in common at the moment? To me they represent why Fianna Fail is no longer fit to govern.

  • O’Dea lied under oath, and was forced to resign.
  • Coughlan thinks young people emigrate for fun and theres the whole Hanger 6 debacle
  • Ahern was cheerleader in chief for O’Dea and he is the Justice Minister!

This government is beyond itself. It is out of ideas. It has no idea what it should be doing. Of all the cabinet Ministers, the only one I think that is trying to do their job is Brian Lenihan. While I dislike the idea of NAMA, at least he is trying to do something to fix the country, none of the other ministers are!

We have a government where a minister can be brought down by a tweet. Two parties desperate to stay in power because one will be out of power and the other will possibly be wiped out at the polls.

The government has gone stale, Cowen has the opportunity now to embark a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle with his only constraint being the Green Party. What they want, only they know, though the Evening Echo is suggesting that Dan ‘tweet’ Boyle could be elevated to Cabinet.

Where does that leave the rest of us. Well there is the possibility of the Dublin Mayoral Election this year, through which Dublin residents can tell FF and Green Party what they think of them. You will have the Dublin South By-Election (2 years in a row, is that a first?) and you also have the Donegal South-West Bye-Election. Of course there will also be the Childrens Rights Referendum, but the popularity of the Government won’t come into that, hopefully! Then next year you have the Presidential Election.

I dont think FF or the Greens are going to do well in any of the upcoming elections. Dublin South is more then likely going to go Labour, Donegal South-West is probably going to Sinn Fein (I’m sticking to my prediction!), and the Dublin Mayoral election will probably go to Labour on Fine Gael transfers (just like the 1990 Presidential Election!).

Unless the Government gets its act together it will go from crisis to crisis as it is now. It seems to just get over one thing when something else crops up. They need to think quick, the boom is long and Ireland needs solutions now.

Its that or be wiped out.

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De Burca’s Gone

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I didn’t see this coming, but Green Senator Deirdre De Burca has resigned from the Green Party and the Seanad! This is the second high profile resignation this week.

De Burca has left due to not being able to support the Government, in a statement she said:

“I have written to my party leader, John Gormley, explaining to him the reasons for my resignation. I believe that we have lost our way as a party and have gradually abandoned our values and our integrity since becoming part of this government.”

“I do not take the decision to tender my resignation lightly but am very clear that I cannot continue to be a part of what the Green Party is supporting in Government.”

This may rock the Greens a bit and is the most high profile resignation they have seen since becoming part of the coalition Government.

It also takes the pressure off Enda Kenny and Fine Gael for a bit!

Irish Times Story

UPDATE: Read the full resigantion letter on  Deirdre’s website, fairly interesting stuff!

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