Taoiseach’s Seanad Nominees announced

Seanad_Alan-BetsonThis evening the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees to Seanad Eireann were announced. They are as follows:

  • Paudie Coffey (former Senator, Dáil Deputy and Minister of State)
  • Joan Freeman (Founder of Pieta House)
  • Michelle Mulherin (former Dáil Deputy)
  • Ray Butler (former Dáil Deputy)
  • Frank Feighan (former Senator and Dáil Deputy)
  • John O’Mahony (former Dáil Deputy)
  • Dr James Reilly (Former TD and Minister)
  • Billy Lawless (advocate for Irish immigrants in the U.S.)
  • Colette Kelleher (CEO Alzheimers Ireland)
  • Pádraig Ó Céidigh (Businessman)
  • Marie-Louise O’Donnell (Former Senator)

Joan Freeman, Colette Kelleher and Pádraig Ó Céidigh were all nominated by the request of Fianna Fail.

One are that has been completely overlooked is that now Tipperary is the only county in Ireland which does not have a Fine Gael national representative. This will make it hard for Fine Gael to regain a seat in this constituency.

The first meeting of the new Seanad will take place on Wednesday 8 June at 3pm.

European Parliament Elections 2014 – Commission President

One of the big outcomes (supposedly!) from this years European Parliament Elections will be the nominated by the winning European Parliament Grouping in the Elections. While some believe this will lead to deadlock and confrontation, other believe it is the start of a truly democratic European Union.

So who are the European Parties nominating?

Party of European Socialists (PES)

The PES had a great idea of a Europe wide primary among its member parties, but in the end this didn’t happen as only one candidate was nominated, that being the current President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz of the Germany’s SPD. While this has annoyed a number of activists, it has prevented a possible long drawn out campaign.

European People’s Party (EPP)

The EPP will open its nominations for the Commission President Candidate on February 13th and they close on March 5th before being selected at their Congress in Dublin on March 6th and 7th (Full Details here). A number of names have been mentioned including former head of the European Group and former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker. Though it is thought that Germany’s Angela Merkel is against his appointment and would prefer either Poland’s Donald Tusk or Ireland’s Enda Kenny to be the EPP’s nomination.

Another possible candidate is Viviane Reding the current Commissioner responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

The ALDE Party (formerly ELDR)

The newly renamed ALDE Party is set to name its Candidate at a special conference in Brussels on February 1st. This is set to be a showdown between current Economic Commissioner Olli Rehn of Finland and the leader of the ALDE Group Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium. It will be interesting to see who will be victorious.

European Green Party

The European Green Party has embraced the internet and is allowing anyone who agrees with their policies to vote for their Candidate in an online Primary. You can vote for two out of the four candidates. The Candidates include José Bové of France, Monica Frassoni of Italy, Rebecca Harms of Germany and Ska Keller also of Germany. If you want to vote head on over to GreenPrimary.eu

European Left Party

The European Left Party last month nominated Alexis Tsipras leader of the Greek SYRIZA party to be its candidate in the elections. This is interesting as SYRIZA is the only party of the European Left Party to be leading in the polls in its home country. Its highly unlikely that Tsipras will be European Commission President, the next Greek Prime Minister on the other hand…

The other possible candidates include Maire Le Pen leading a European Far Right grouping (or maybe Nigel Farage?) and a possible European Conservatives and Reformist candidate, no names have emerged from that grouping.

It will be an interesting one to watch.

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Why I’m Voting No on October 4th

On October 4th I will be voting No to the 32nd Amendment to the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Eireann) Bill 2013. I am doing this for a number of reasons. I spoke against the abolition of the Seanad Eireann at this years Young Fine Gael’s Garrett Fitzgerald Summer School and this blog post is broadly based on that speech.

Note: following a tied vote on a motion to back the Fine Gael stance in the Referendum at the Garrett Fitzgerald Summer School, The National Executive of Young Fine Gael took the decision to remain neutral in the referendum and allow members to campaign on either side if they wish.

Abolishing the Seanad is not a measure that reforms Irish Politics in a way that is better for the people. It further concentrates power in the Dáil and focus’ more power and influence on TD’s and the whip system, the plague of Leinster House.

This simplistic populist policy was created to grab a headline  and draw attention to a Presidential Dinner and to bolster Enda’s poll rating. There was no debate, there was no consultation, it was within the leaders prerogative we were told.

This will be the biggest change to Bunreacht na hEireann since its enactment. A change it was not made to withstand. It recklessly severs the constitution with a scatter gun effect.

This amendment does more then abolish the Seanad. It will also change the following:

  • This possibility of the reference of Bills to the people by the President will be removed from the Constitution
  • A nomination for President may be made by 14 members of the Dáil.
  • Impeachment of the President would be dealt with by the Dáil. A proposal to impeach would need the signatures of at least 30 members of the Dáil and its adoption would need the agreement of at least four-fifths of the total membership of the Dáil. The Dáil would then investigate the charges against the President and could remove him/her from office if four-fifths of its total membership agree.
  • Judges could be removed from office for stated misbehaviour or incapacity if at least two-thirds of the total membership of the Dáil so decide
  • The arrangements for removing the Comptroller & Auditor General from office would be changed in the same way as for judges.

(Taken from www.referendum2013.ie)

The Seanad has many possibilities and some of our greatest politicians have realised this and used it. Garrett Fitzgerald used his Taoiseach’s appointments to appoint the lead Jim Dooge as his Minister for Foreign Affairs. Enda Kenny used the majority of his appointments to appoint various people from Civil Society to give a wider range of voices in the Seanad. Though he recently missed the chance to replace Senator McAleese with an independent person to chair a Banking Inquiry, using it instead to appoint a party member.

Seanad reform has been constantly ignored by successive Governments.  12 reports and a constitutional amendment all not acted upon by the Governments and the Dáil.

At the end of the it is only the Dáil that can bring the true reform that is needed to ensure that we have a proper functioning bi-caramel system. We are not ready as a state to be a uni-caramel system. The political system has not been reformed enough and our constitution is not made for it.

Abolishing the Seanad will also not save us money. More sitting days and more committees, which have been promised, will end up costing the same, if not more!

The Government have also decided to hold Dáil reform hostage to this amendment by promising that the reforms promised in the Programme for Government will only happen if this amendment is passed. This is a wrong and cynical move by the Government. Those of us who want a reformed system want Seanad AND Dáil reform so that it works better for the people of Ireland.

If we abolish Seanad Eireann we lose an expert voice and an independent voice in our political system. The Seanad can have real power and influence over legislation, tidying up things that come from Dáil Eireann. It may not be front page news, but it is an important function and one we will regret when it is gone. Appearances in front of a committee are not the same.

We need effective Check’s and Balances in our system which is dominated by the Executive. Abolishing the Seanad is not reform, but will further entrench the power of the Executive to the detriment of our democracy. Vote No on October 4th!

 

I encourage you to read the full details of the Governments proposals on The Referendum Commission website. If you wish to get involved in the No Campaign check out Democracy Matters and Future Matters

Note: I am fully in favour of the 33rd Amendment to the Constitution (Court of Appeal) Bill 2013.

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    Pollwatch: Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI 20th April

    Green Party
    Green Party (Photo credit: Neil Dorgan)

    In continuation from the poll on the referendum in today’s Irish Times, tomorrows looks at party support. Polling was conducted on Monday and Tuesday by Ipsos MRBI. So this is post the major party conferences, Mahon and Household Charge.

    The party support levels are:

    • Fine Gael, 33% (-3)
    • Labour, 13% (-6)
    • Fianna Fáil, 14% (-1)
    • Sinn Féin, 21% (+6)
    • Green Party, 2% (+1)
    • Independents/ Others, 17% (+3)

    It is interesting to see the Green Party have their own line in a poll again but are still within the margin of error. Fine Gael are down for the first time in awhile but still have the largest support.

    Labour continue to and seem to be loosing their support to Sinn Fein. There is no recovery either for Fianna Fail and they too slip, but are marginally ahead of Labour.

    Sinn Fein are now solidified as the second most popular party, but if they cant get over there lack of attracting transfers it may still be hard for them to make large gains.

    Independents again are a gainer but that can be hard to convert into seats as the vote is split among a wide range of groups.

    The leader’s satisfaction’s are interesting in this poll they are:

    • Enda Kenny (FG): 42% (-10)
    • Eamon Gilmore (Lab): 41% (-14)
    • Gerry Adams (SF): 29% (-3)
    • Micheál Martin (FF): 24% (-5)

    Overall Government satisfaction is at 23% which is down 14% since last October.

    What is Joan Burton up to?

    Crop of Joan Burton at launch of the Labour Pa...
    Crop of Joan Burton at launch of the Labour Party's 2011 General Election campaign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    What is the Minister for Social Protection, Labour’s Joan Burton, up to? First she complains loudly about Fine Gael Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan meeting Michael Lowry after the Moriarty report and a photo of taken at the NYSE involving an Taoiseach Enda Kenny and business man Denis O’Brien.

    It now turns out that Joan Burton met with Denis O’Brien at that same event. Hypocrisy much?

    This emerged last night at the Labour Party Conference which is currently underway in Galway.

    But What she is playing at? Is she trying to split the Government? If there is some sort of controversy Joan seems to be the first Minister to the nearest microphone and spout something which may or not be related to the issue.

    She did it on the Fiscal Compact drawing a comparison with a deal on the Promissory Note.

    So is Joan running a long campaign for leadership or is she hoping for early elections before Labour slip further in polls.

    Only time will tell.

    Enda’s Ard Fheis Speech

    View from my seat for Enda's Speech

    I’m finally back in Cork after last weekend’s Fine Gael Ard Fheis in the Convention Centre in Dublin. It was an interesting Ard Fheis with plenty to talk about and to plan for. The highlight of course was of course Enda Kenny’s speech on Saturday night.

    His speech for me summed up the change that we have seen in Enda Kenny since the attempted heave in 2010. It was measured and it contained positives and negatives. I for one was very proud of An Taoiseach during that speech.

    It was a speech that was not just for the party faithful, but for Irish Citizens watching at home and he used the speech perfectly well. Have a read of it yourself.

    Just over a year ago, the Irish people turned to Fine Gael and the Labour Party at a time of national crisis.

    We told the people then that it was time to get Ireland working again and that our plan was designed to make that happen.

    The Irish people gave us their support and their trust in historic numbers.

    I thank you for your trust.

    Thank you for your belief, and for your patience, and for your sacrifice.

    You gave us a mandate and a responsibility to clear away the air of fear and uncertainty.

    To get our country moving in the right direction again.

    Therefore, as we gather at this Ard Fheis, our purpose cannot be one of celebration.

    We will not celebrate until Ireland has reason to celebrate. Tonight, unemployment remains too high. Too many families are struggling to make ends meet. Too many worry about losing their homes. Too many of our children are still moving away.

    Our purpose now must be to redouble our efforts, to work even harder to deliver our plan.

    To get Ireland Working.

    To retrieve our economic independence and take back our country.

    These tough times require straight talk.

    So we will continue to be straight and honest with the people.

    To tell them what we have done to meet our pledges, and how much work remains to be done.

    To explain to people the scale of the challenge that remains.

    This government has made a solid start, but we have a long way to go. Fine Gael and Labour are providing Ireland with a strong and stable government.

    Our first priority was to stabilise the economy. That meant a tough Budget in which we had to make very difficult choices.I know that for many people, the measures we have had to take have been painful.But we are doing the best we can to protect the most vulnerable by reversing the cut in the minimum wage; by protecting basic welfare payments; and by exempting 330,000 low paid and part-time workers from the Universal Social Charge.

    The public finances are coming under control, and the budget deficit will be down to 3% of GDP by 2015. We have downsized and recapitalized the banking system. Investor confidence is starting to return. Deposits are flowing back into our banks and several multi-national companies have announced investments to create further jobs, and others intend to follow.

    Exports are performing strongly due to our improved competitiveness. Ireland’s international standing is being restored.

    Over the past year, the Tanaiste and I, along with the other members of the Government, have worked hard to convince international political and business leaders that Ireland now has a serious government with a serious plan.

    A government that can be trusted.

    Crucial to that mission has been proving our determination to tackle the economic problems we inherited.

    Our commitments under the EU/IMF agreement are being delivered in full and on time. The interest rates on these loans have been reduced, saving us €10 billion. The interest rates on Irish government bonds have fallen steadily. We have made a start on jobs.

    Our first Budget saw no increase in income tax. Because taxing work damages jobs.

    Our first jobs initiative helped create 6,000 jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors. Already, 20,000 men and women have taken up training places on schemes including JobBridge and Springboard. We have made it much easier for foreign investors to visit and create jobs in Ireland.

    Yes – this is a start.

    But there is so much further to go, with so much more effort and imagination required.

    We have also made a start on reforming the political system itself.

    We cut ministerial pay and transport costs. The entitlements of former Taoisigh have been withdrawn. Work is continuing on legislation to reduce the size of the Dáil, and to prepare for a referendum for the abolition of the Seanad. I believe that more women should become involved in Irish politics.

    To encourage more women into politics we are linking State funding of political parties to the level of female participation in elections. Parties, including our own, will be penalised if they do not fulfil these conditions.

    We are continuing to reform the wider public sector. We are reducing the size and cost of the public service, and radically cutting the number of state agencies.

    We need to reform the way we deliver our essential public services like health, education and justice. We must provide people with the quality services they deserve at a lower cost. To achieve this, we need the continued support and co-operation of those who work in our public service and the unions that represent them.

    The shameful and corrupt practices revealed in the Moriarty and Mahon Tribunal Reports must never be allowed to happen again. That’s why this Government is taking firm action to break the link between business and political funding. That interaction should be based solely on achieving economic recovery through creating jobs.

    Our new laws on political funding will ban corporate donations over €200 to a political party unless they are registered and declared.

    We will create a register of lobbyists and enact new laws to give protection to those who discover and report unethical behaviour. These long overdue reforms, along with other measures being considered by Government, will help to put integrity, transparency and honesty back at the heart of public life.

    While the steps we have taken in the first year have brought stability, we recognise that some of the pledges we made have not been delivered.

    We had intended to legislate to end upward only rent reviews, but this has proven to be impossible because of constitutional difficulties.

    We kept our promise to increase mortgage interest relief for people who bought their homes at the height of the property boom, but mortgage arrears remain a serious problem for far too many families.

    We have made some progress in reducing the penal burden on the Irish people of the previous Government’s bailout of the banks.

    Through a combination of burden sharing on junior bondholders, private investment and avoiding asset fire sales, we have more than halved the cost to tax payers envisaged in the original plan.

    But despite these improvements, this burden remains too heavy.

    Let me be clear. I will not throw away the progress we have made in the last year by reneging on our international commitments.

    Ireland will NOT default.
    But we are determined to ease this burden on our people.

    That’s why we are negotiating with our Troika partners to find a cheaper way of financing the cost of bank recapitalisation.

    That’s why the €3.1 billion promissory note payment due to be paid to Anglo Irish Bank on Monday is not being paid.But is being replaced by a long-term government bond and the wider negotiations will continue.

    The year ahead is a crucial one for rebuilding and recovery.

    An essential first step – and the Government’s immediate priority – will come at the end of May when the Irish people vote on the European Stability Treaty.

    Throughout my recent visits to the United States, and to China this week, the consistent message from both political and business leaders is that they see Ireland’s place as a fully committed member of the Eurozone as a crucial element of Ireland’s attractiveness as a location for investment.

    I cannot over-state it.

    In this referendum, we have a brilliant opportunity to say to the world that Ireland believes in the future of the Euro, that Ireland is central to the future of the Eurozone, that Ireland is four-square with Europe, as together we build a system that will bring responsible budgeting to Euro governments and Euro nations across the entire Eurozone.

    This commitment is an investment in our children’s future, and in our country’s future.

    Never again will a government be able to behave recklessly and arrogantly with the people’s money.

    In recent months alone numerous multi-national companies have shown their confidence in Ireland by committing to new investments here.

    I want to continue and grow this strong flow of inward investment in the future…for our future.

    I want Ireland to have the same access as other countries to the insurance policy of the ESM – a critical reassurance for investors.

    We can do this, we can achieve this….by voting YES.
    Yes to Europe.
    Yes to Jobs.
    Yes to Ireland.
    YES on May 31st.

    As you know, my message while abroad recently has been strong and clear – Ireland is open for business.

    Now is the time to invest in our recovery.

    I recently signed economic co-operation agreements with China and the United Kingdom, both of which offer significant potential for the future.

    We must translate that rising international confidence into more jobs all across this country.

    We are a nation of doers and entrepreneurs. But there are still too many obstacles to job creation – too much red tape, too many high costs and too many archaic regulations.

    The measures taken in the Jobs’ Initiative last May have helped. But this is not nearly enough.
    I always said that this was only a first step towards my commitment to make jobs the top priority of this Government.

    Jobs are about more than work. Jobs are about dignity, incentive, pride.

    More jobs mean better lives, stronger communities, more resources for public services, and less debt.That‘s why last month, this Government published our Action Plan for Jobs.

    We aim to create 100,000 extra jobs by 2016. The plan contains 270 separate actions to remove the barriers to job creation. Actions to cut the cost of red-tape by a quarter. Actions to cut the different employments-rights bodies from five to two.

    Banks must become part of the solution to the jobs crisis by meeting their agreed lending targets.

    The Partial-Loan Guarantee Scheme will give existing companies more and better access to bank credit. We will stimulate investment in infrastructure by using some of the proceeds from the disposal of State assets to pay for extra investment in areas like water and energy that can boost jobs and growth.

    We will make it easier to expand into overseas markets, for example with tax reliefs for companies sending sales-people to the rapidly-expanding economies of China, Brazil and India.

    We will also support traditional sectors of the economy, such as the plan to double food exports by 2020.

    Action will be taken to ignite new sectors of the economy – such as cloud computing, digital gaming and data content storage.

    I believe that in the next five years, Ireland can become a global hub for cloud computing.
    The key to the success of this jobs plan is in the title – ACTION.

    All Government Ministers and State Agencies are committed to the delivery of this plan. My Department of the Taoiseach will drive its implementation throughout the public service.

    In fact, the idea of ‘drive’ is behind every aspect of what this government is undertaking.
    And this drive makes sure that economic recovery does not by-pass those who have lost their jobs, their wealth and even their self-confidence in this recession.

    People on the live register must be put at the top of the queue to fill newjobs as they arise.

    Ireland hasn’t been good enough to, or strong enough for its jobseekers. The supports have been too passive and too scattered. The vast majority of people who are out of work want a hand up, not a hand out. These men and women know the dignity of work, and feel its absence in their lives. Our Pathways to Work Plan will help those people.

    From now on, the day a person loses their job is the day the State starts helping them to find another job, or to train for another job.

    In place of FAS there will be a one-stop-shop for job-seekers where welfare claims will be processed thoroughly and quickly.

    This new person-centred system will identify and help those most at risk of being unemployed long-term. With all the difficult consequences of that. Because of our duty to help people find work and to use their talents for their own good and for the good of the country, we will give employers additional incentives to hire people who are currently out of work.

    That means extending the employer PRSI exemption scheme from 12 to 18 months.

    This Government wants work to pay. It has to be seen to be a more attractive option than staying on the dole.

    That is why in the last Budget we delivered on our commitment not to increase taxes on income and work.

    Now we will ensure that the social protection system incentivises, rather than discourages, people from returning to work.

    Reforms to the jobseekers’ schemes are being introduced to ensure that people in part-time employment are encouraged to take up full-time employment whenever possible.

    We also need to show the debt-distressed in our communities that there is light at the end of tunnel.
    For too many people, the only escape from unsustainable debts is long-term bankruptcy, economic inactivity or emigration.

    I know this.

    I’m frustrated that we haven’t been able to move as fast as we wanted to, to tackle the mortgage crisis.

    So, I’ve appointed a temporary Cabinet Committee, which I chair, to drive action in four vital areas:

    Firstly, we will work with the Financial Regulator to encourage banks to offer “negative equity mortgages”, whereby families can, depending on their circumstances, trade up or down.

    Secondly, we will finalise and enact a Personal Insolvency Bill designed to rebalance the rights of the borrower and lender, in a fairer way.

    Thirdly, we will expand the use of “mortgage to rent” for families who can no longer afford their mortgages, to allow them to sell their houses and rent them back at affordable rents.

    Fourthly, to free up the housing market, we are giving additional mortgage interest relief to first time buyers who buy their homes before the end of 2012.

    These steps are to protect our families and to keep our children in the most powerful and precious place they will ever have in their lives: HOME.

    This is a great country with unlimited potential. We are now regarded the world over as being a country on the way back. We have the best young generation on the planet. Our challenge is to harness all these qualities together and nothing will stop us.

    We’ve overcome hardship and adversity in the past. We’ve overcome poverty and deprivation in the past. We’ve beaten all these difficulties.

    I don’t have all the answers but I do know this: a government that works hard, that brings honesty, clarity and decisiveness in its service of the people will not fail.

    It is my privilege to lead such a Government and I am proud to do so.

    And I look forward to achieving my ambition that by 2016 we will prove to be the best small country in the world to do business, the best country in which to raise a family, and the best country in which to grow old with dignity and respect.
    My Government will work with you to fulfil these ambitions in the interest of our future, our country and our children.

    Fiscal Treaty Referendum: Thursday May 31st

    The date has been set for the Fiscal Treaty Referendum and it will take place on Thursday May 31st. Polls will be open from 7am until 10pm.

    The date was announced by An Táiniste Eamonn Gilmore in the Dáil this afternoon following a Cabinet Meeting this morning when the date was agreed upon.

    There will be much disappointment that the vote will be held on a Thursday considering that Fine Gael and Labour regularly lambasted past Governments for holding elections on weekdays.

    Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin has called on the Government to produce a white paper on the treaty to aid discussion and debate on the treaty.

    The next step for the Government now will be to publish the bill to amend the Constitution to allow for the treaty to be ratified and then to set up a Referendum Commission to inform the public.

    Campaigners have 64 days to persuade people of there arguments and with recent polls showing the Yes side in the lead with 60% its going to be a tough campaign!

    Don’t forget you can read the treaty here!

    Referendum Campaign to get under-way this week?

    An Taoiseach Enda Kenny
    An Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    According to TheJournal.ie the Government is to announce the date of the Fiscal Compact Referendum on Tuesday after their Cabinet meeting. While An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, will not be at that meeting due to his trip to China, it was he who announced it in remarks in Shanghai.

    The referendum on the EU Fiscal Compact will be scheduled to avoid clashing with the Leaving Certificate Exams, the Eucharistic Congress and the European Football Championships. This means it will be late May/early June or late June/early July.

    In either case expect the campaigns, both Yes and No to make a tentative start to their campaigns after the announcement of the date as campaigners get their canvassing shoes ready.

    Also as the campaign gets under way expect more polls which will be important as the undecided’s make up their minds and I will endeavour to cover them as always.

    You can read the Fiscal Compact here (PDF) or else you can also read theJournal.ie’s version in layman’s terms.

    Ireland to vote on Fiscal Compact

    Enda Kenny (left), Leader of Fine Gael, at the...
    Image via Wikipedia

    An Taoiseach Enda Kenny today announced in the Dail that Ireland will hold a referendum to ratify the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union otherwise known as the Fiscal Compact.

    This will be one of three referenda held in Ireland this year. The other two will be on the long awaited Children’s Rights Referendum and on abolishing the Seanad.

    The decision to hold a referendum has been welcomed across the political spectrum, though also drawing battle lines with Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail in favour of ratification and Sinn Fein, the ULA and some of the independents.

    According to a poll in last months Sunday Business Post by Red C suggested that 40% of voters would vote in favour while 36% would vote against. Interestingly enough 24% did not know how they would vote.

    So it is all to play for

    The Insider: Enda Kenny

    Enda Kenny
    Image via Wikipedia

    This Column appeared in the Cork Independent on Thursday 26th May 2011

    I joined Fine Gael in 2004. If someone told me on that day, that in seven years time Enda Kenny would be welcoming the British Queen and American President to Ireland as the leader of the largest party in Dáil Eireann and the Toaiseach of the largest Government Majority in coalition with Labour. I probably would have laughed in their face and said in your dreams.

    During my many years in the party we had ups and downs, thankfully I was too young to have been around for the heartache that was the 2002 election. But still we had down times during ill timed announcments, racist jokes and of course leadership rumours and heaves.

    Enda has not been the most popular Leader of Fine Gael, either among the grassroot members or the general public. He generally muddled true and it was viewed by many, including myself at times, that the incompetence of the then Government over some issues is what was making Enda look good.

    In the lead up the this years General Election, the leadership was the biggest issue on the doorstep, after the economy of course. Coming up to the TV3 debate in which Enda refused to take part in, saw people being most critical of him. But after that it changed. The RTÉ and TG4 debates changed peoples mind and saw him as a safe pair of hands.

    When he was elected Taoiseach on 9th of March, Enda started his biggest political challenge since 2002. How as it gone since then? Quite well. Enda has surprised his critics and his supporters in how he has handled his role as Taoiseach. He is playing the role of chairman and has made appointments to cabinets based on strengths. It is stilll early days and major challenges lie ahead.

    What has he done well? He has managed to judge the public mood with his speeches and say exactly the right things. During the visit of Her Majesty and President Obama he has spoken gracefully and eloquently about the visits and how important they are to us all as a country. He has spoken well in the Dáil on many issues from the Banking crisis to political reform. This of course can just be seen as platitudes

    What hasnt he done well on? The much vaulted and hoped for reduction in the Irish Bailout rate has yet to materialise. Enda has spoken much and this subject and while pressing his European colleagues it has failed to materialise. Enda has also failed to stop the jibes in Dáil, which can often be seen as a reason why people have lost interest in the politics. He himself is guilty of it.

    There are many challenges ahead for the Government. This years budget could be make or break in terms of support from the public. Political Refrom could become a dead end as politicians could refuse to change their ways as they have in the past. And of course there is the finiancial system itself. It the economy dosen’t improve, will the government go with it.

    Overall Verdict: Better then Expected