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Garret Fitzgerald … May 19, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Fine Gael.
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Sad to hear the death of Garret Fitzgerald. The Garret vs Charlie debate was one the the factors that began my interest in politics and as a twelve year old start to collect political ephemera.
His politics may not have been the most popular in these parts but he was very much part of the political scene in those barren years of the 80’s where many of our political opinions were formed.
The RTE obituary

A selection of pieces about Garret Fitzgerald from the Village and Magill archives

Some leaflets from his years leading Fine Gael.

The February 1982 General Election

The November 1982 General Election

The 1987 General Election

And finally a 1992 letter of retirement to constituents

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Comments»

1. JK Donald - May 19, 2011

Condolences to the family but the man was no friend to the working class of this country. Absent-minded professor persona nothwithstanding, he was as right-wing as Leo Varadkar.

Tax children’s shoes in case the poor buy them for their own feet? slightly perverse that he should be remembered on a left-wing site, but there you go.

and before anyone mentions the anglo-irish agreement, one word for that: Brighton.

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DublinDilettante - May 19, 2011

I agree with your assessment of Garret, but I don’t think mentioning the passing of one of the most significant figures in the history of the state represents an endorsement by IEL or CLR.

Normally, I’d have a bourgeois tendency to keep quiet about the failings of the recently deceased. However, with his ideological successors in government, marching to a beat he was pounding right up until his death, the kind of revisionism which is likely to ensue over the coming days doesn’t grant us that luxury.

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JK Donald - May 19, 2011

“Normally, I’d have a bourgeois tendency to keep quiet about the failings of the recently deceased.”

Ditto. But, for some reason, cedarlounge wanted a conversation on this topic, so here goes. I mean no insult to his family, but in his last days he got a level of medical attention that is denied to the majority of this state’s citizens – a situation for which he and his party carry not an insignificant amount of responsibility.

Old people die on trolleys in this country. I’ll cry no tears for a Fine Gael Taoiseach.

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2011

I think it’s reasonable that the CLR would be interested in the death of a figure of such importance during the last 30-40 years in Irish political history, like him or not.

I don’t think there’s anything odd about the fact we’re a left wing site noting that death and I think it’s great that IELB who posted the post in the first place has such a resource of materials that we can take a look at the man’s stated positions and see how close or far short their implementation fell.

On a human level it’s sad, though he lived a comfortable but in fairness engaged and active political life, but that doesn’t negate the possibility of putting forward a critique which I’ve already myself got the bones of.

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Jim Monaghan - May 20, 2011

And his worry that women with small feet could use an exemption for children’s shoes. The fall of his government was a farce.

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2. Starkadder - May 19, 2011

A highly intelligent man, who always tried to
put the interests of his country first. I will
miss Dr. Fitzgerald greatly. My condolences to his
family and friends. :(

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3. Terry McDermott - May 19, 2011

‘and before anyone mentions the anglo-irish agreement, one word for that: Brighton.’

I’d say the Sinn Fein votes in 1982 and 1983 more than Brighton. FitzGerald was open about how the AIA was to bolster the SDLP and get them back on top, which it did. SF’s vote fell consistently from 1985-1994. Brighton may have ‘moved the Brits’ but Dublin’s interests were a bit different.
As for FitzGerald himself, a good PR image and cuddly persona, sheltered a Tory, though not a Thatcherite.

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4. JK Donald - May 19, 2011

It was moving the brits that I was on about. The lady who was not for turning, turned as soon as the bathroom floor fell through.

Tony Gregory saw Fitzgerald for what he was. Repeated it in numerous interviews. He, for one, was under no illusions.

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Earl Williams - May 19, 2011

What exactly was TG’s opinion of GF then?

Here’s a piece about something I’d never heard of before, the FG alternative to the Gregory Deal:

http://politico.ie/component/content/article/3056

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John McDonnell - May 20, 2011

Oh I’m sure you can guess. Tony Gregory didn’t trust Fitzgerald. He knew Fitzgerald was all about protecting the interests of Fine Gael and the class Fine Gael comes from. He told RTE that Fitzgerald wouldn’t even come to Summerhill to talk to him. Fitzgerald, instead, ‘summoned’ Gregory – and gregory basically told him and his ‘summoning’ to piss off.

Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with a google link to ‘exactly’ what TG thought of Fitzgerald – although if you can track down Gregory’s last interview with RTE it’s all there.

Weird question, though. Would have thought anyone aware of Gregory would pretty much know that he saw Fine Gael as a bunch of conservative right-wingers out to fuck over the working class.

don’t know if that’s ‘exact’ enough for you.

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Earl Williams - May 20, 2011

Easy on the aggression, old chap, we’re all friends here.

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5. sonofstan - May 19, 2011

He was a Tory, no doubt about it.

Within the limits of his ideology and his class perspective, however I think he did his best, as he saw it.

And today, at least, I’m grateful to him for knocking our tiresome visitors off the news.

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Michael Carley - May 20, 2011

I heard him speak in Trinity years ago, after he had retired, and he spoke of trying to introduce some kind of modest (his word) inheritance tax in the seventies, but giving up when it was clear that it had no hope of going through against the vested interests. He struck me as a kind of decent Tory: no interest in radical change, but prepared to consider some reforms in the direction of a kind of social democracy. I’d be interested to know if he considered his political career a success.

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6. Earl Williams - May 19, 2011

A Tory? I’d always thought of him as an Irish Roy Jenkins, essentially a descendant of the 19th century Liberal Party. (I seem to recall from Alvin Jackson’s book on Home Rule that Garret canvassed for a Fine Gael candidate back in the 1940s or 1950s by saying that he (the candidate that is) was ‘John Redmond’s man’).

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sonofstan - May 20, 2011

Listening to the tributes throughout yesterday, a peculiar comparison struck me, and probably why I think of him as a Tory, but of a now vanished kind: the hero of Ford Madox Ford’s rarely read Parade’s End, Mark Tietjens – a brilliant statistician, and an instinctive one nation Tory with the deeply engrained belief that it was the duty of men like him to ‘serve’. The assured elitism was there in Fitzgerald – the ‘born to serve’ also includes ‘entitled to serve’. Anyway, if anyone feels the need for a very long, early c 20 epic to while away the summer in Ballybunion, Parade’s End is, among other things, a brilliant analysis of how power used to work in Britain. Carry on.

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7. Jim Monaghan - May 19, 2011

Obviously intelligent. Politically on the most pro British end of FG. Liberal?, well he was responsible for the anti-abortion amendment. He brought FG to occupy a similar place to FF. A party that pretends to be everything.After the SF breakthrough after the hunger strikes, he resorted to calling FG, the party of Collins.He diverted many feminists (not that it took much tempting) into FG.
In his memoir, he complained about how badly paid he was with Aer Lingus. But failed to put the salary in the context of the time( That is what the equivalent would be now, how much would it buy). A peculiar lapse for a statistics man.
A bad decision maker, indecisive.
The Liberal crusade? A trick.
The great bambollezer.
Though personally honest. Given Haughey, nearly everyone was.

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EWI - May 19, 2011

Though personally honest. Given Haughey, nearly everyone was.

He didn’t turn down his mortgage forgiveness from AIB (who he had saved in the first bank bail-out).

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tomasoflatharta - May 20, 2011

One Law for the Well-Connected Rich, Another for the Little People :

“A more serious crisis occurred as a result of his association with Guinness Peat Aviation. He was appointed a director of GPA after leaving politics and in anticipation of the public flotation of the company he and others in GPA borrowed substantial amounts of money to purchase shares at a favourable price, which was expected to rise when the company went public.

When the flotation was cancelled, FitzGerald was left owing several hundred thousand pounds to AIB. He sold his house to his son Mark and lived in an apartment in the house but still owed an estimated £230,000 to AIB.

He paid around £50,000 and the rest was written off by the bank.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0520/1224297355733.html

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Pope Epopt - May 20, 2011

Not the worse politician in the last decades, by a long shot, and personally likeable, from what I saw of him.

But the AIB connection I find telling, and he was a consistent defender of the interests of bankers during the recent (should I say ongoing) crisis. I’m not particularly suggesting anything corrupt, just that he was of a class that would assume that the interests of bankers and the country were closely aligned.

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8. Seán Ó Tuama - May 19, 2011

His death reminds me of a period in my political youth in which unusually for me I attended meetings in his house for a while.

The Dublin Young Socialists in which I was active and which had quite a few secondary student members, played a large part in setting up a group called the Joint Secondary Schools Action Committee in 1969. The objective was to support the secondary teachers strike of January 1969 and to agitate for student rights and representation (D_D, who AFAIR, was involved, may remember this).We were influenced by the French Comités d’Action Lycéens who played an important role in the May 1968 events.

We called a public meeting in support of the teachers attended by thousands of secondary students.

Another more moderate group, including some left-wingers but dominated by Young Fine Gael, was formed and the two groups eventually merged under the USI umbrella.

I was on the committee and meetings were held in the Fitzgerald house as his daughter was also a member.

An interesting and forgotten part, I think of Irish left history as this was probably the first attempt to organise secondary students in Ireland. Unfortunately I do not have any documentation from this period.

Generally, I agree with the negative comments on Fitzgerald made above apart from the fact that he appears to have tried to put an end to the activities of the heavy gang and later regretted that he had not carried out his threat to resign on this issue.

This at least was better than his Labour Party colleagues in government at the time who continued,with the possible exception of Justin Keating, to defend this and other repression.

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EamonnCork - May 19, 2011

He didn’t do anything, or try to do anything, about the Heavy Gang. His own autobiography makes this clear amid much muddled self justification of the Vicky Pollard variety. There was never any threat to resign, he says he meant to threaten to resign but never quite got round to it. And also, bizarrely, that he felt he couldn’t bring up the activities of the Heavy Gang because the coalition were just about to bring in their Emergency Powers Bill.
He wasn’t better than his labour party colleagues in government, he was just the same. Justin Keating did nothing either except said afterwards that he felt he should have done something at the time. The only government TDs who opposed the repression were David Thornley and John O’Connell.
Garret was in the happy position of often being judged on his intentions rather than his actions.
He brought in the pro-life amendment because he’d pledged his support to the PLAC in order not to lose votes in a tight election campaign. What sums up Garret for me was his statement before the amendment campaign that he thought the amendment would be damaging to women’s health and that he would say he was against it but not campaign against it even though he was Taoiseach.
No point in being hypocritical about it, he did very little of substance. Even the AIA was fundamentally flawed given that it was intended to remove the republican movement from having any say in the way NI was governed. Hume-Adams was what made the difference. Garret’s fervent belief that you shouldn’t have any contact with republicans until they’d called a ceasefire wasn’t the way forward.
He was also, right up to the end, a strong and influential supporter of austerity measures and bank bail-outs.

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9. Earl Williams - May 19, 2011

He was personally anti-abortion himself, though, wasn’t he. . . but abortion was already illegal in pre-referendum Ireland, so why introduce the amendment campaign? My guess would have been to give a sop to the far right Faith and Fatherland, who were still a power in the land then, in the hope that this might give him the opportunity to pass other reforms, e.g. divorce. But things didn’t quite work out like that.

Other countries have liberalism, a general ideology that emerged as an insurgent product of modernity in the nineteenth century. This insurgency made a play for ideological hegemony in the countries where it appeared, and largely won those battles (Orwell, writing of the 1930s Tory party, said ‘there are no conservatives anymore, there are only liberals, fascists and the accomplices of fascists’). All Ireland could manage, meanwhile, was a liberal agenda, a far tamer beast.

And yet. . . the faith-and-fatherland crowd were beaten all the same. Was that down to natural wastage and the reaper’s scythe? Or did GF’s liberal agenda play a vital role in spite of everything?

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Mark P - May 19, 2011

I suspect that social and economic changes had rather more to do with that than Fitzgerald did. And in so far as political activism played a role (and it did), there are plenty of others who deserve more credit than the Taoiseach who introduced the Pro-Life amendment.

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Earl Williams - May 19, 2011

Maybe. And yet one of his government’s last acts was to legalise condoms, something that was strongly condemned at the FF Ard Fheis later that year.

The social and economic changes would have had their effect over the long term anyway, you’re right about that. But imagine if FG had been, like FF, still in the hands of the socially conservative. The struggle would have been a lot harder then, surely?

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EamonnCork - May 19, 2011

He did show guts in getting the family planning bill through in 1985. And actually he did have one fine moment in government, when giving the casting vote to bring in the ban on South African goods, in the wake of the Dunnes Stores strike, against the opposition of a majority of FG ministers in the coalition.
Though the 1985 victory was made much more difficult by the fact that Fitzgerald’s kow-towing a couple of years earlier had greatly emboldened the forces of conservatism. He was a much more pragmatic politician than his image would lead you to believe. Haughey painted FG as the party of sex, Garret painted FF as the party of Provo sympathisers, asking FG councillors in 1981 to forward the names of any FF councillors who voted in favour of resolutions supporting the hunger strikers.

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10. Mark P - May 19, 2011

He always came across as a personally pleasant individual. His politics however were less pleasant.

Another of our politicians who had large debts written off by financial institutions, in his case AIB and Ansbacher.

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11. Mick Ahern - May 19, 2011

Didn’t Garrett once profit from a substantial hand out from a major bank? A mere writing off of a home loan or something?
Anybody remember the details? Would’d like to do his memory a disservice on the matter.

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John McDonnell - May 19, 2011

Garret Fitzgerald invented the Irish bank bailout – with ICI in 1985. ICI was owned by AIB. eight years later, in 1993, he had loans worth 200,000 pounds written off by AIB and Ansbacher.

Great line from Eamonn Cork there:

“Garret was in the happy position of often being judged on his intentions rather than his actions.”

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12. cogadh - May 19, 2011

another one bites the dust

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13. Earl Williams - May 19, 2011

He did the state some service, and they (and we) know it.

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14. CMK - May 19, 2011

I’m personally deeply ambivalent about his death. Yes, it’s a tragedy for his family and his friends, like any death. However, there are a couple of things that give me pause before getting too sympathetic. Like a previous commentator noted, he probably died in the very best of clinical circumstances, unlike those pensioners who leave this live on a trolley in A&E. As someone else notes he was a beneficiary of the shadow welfare-state for the elite through which his home loan was written off. An action taken by banks who had no hesistation in those times to push defaulting debtors in prison, alcoholism, madness, emigration or suicide. Thousands suffered and lost homes, minds and lives but Fitzgerald was given a pass. He was also a glaring example that doctoral knowledge of economics is no barrier to overseeing profound economic incompetence in government. He was a beneficiary of a degree of indulgence and latitude that would never, ever, be accorded anyone left of Ruairi Quinn. I think history’s verdict will far harsher than many eulogising about him today might realise.

I only interacted with him once during the 2001 Nice referendum and he was polite and respectful during a Q&A, unlike Dermot Ahern who was an asshole when I questioned him during a debate in the 2002 referendum.

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EamonnCork - May 19, 2011

I met him once, we were doing a programme on RTE. Afterwards he was extremely cross with me for suggesting that there was endemic political corruption in Ireland and kept repeating that this country wasn’t Italy, there might be a couple of bad apples and that was that. This was pre planning tribunal reports and I think he changed his tune subsequently.

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15. Eamonn Dublin - May 19, 2011

Lest we forget, this was the man, as Minister, that wrote to the Harold Wilson government in 1975 warning them against any British plans for withdrawal. He and his government did not want any instability ” in our state ” from the possiblility of British withdrawal. It was obviously ok for the conflict to continue once it did not infringe on his right wing agenda. He even mentioned the fact that any instability may only benefit China and Russia.
Another parasite bites the dust.

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EamonnCork - May 19, 2011

He went one better than writing it, he met with James Callaghan, then home secretary, down the road here in Glandore in Peter Jay’s holiday home which was where he broached the possibility of Chinese intervention in Ireland following British withdrawal.

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16. Terry McDermott - May 19, 2011

Being up against Haughey made him look better than he was. I’m afraid the coverage is going to be fairly puke-inducing. First the Queen, now this…

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WorldbyStorm - May 19, 2011

Look on the bright side, sad though it is on a human level, it’s knocked the Queen off the front of the front page.

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tomasoflatharta - May 19, 2011

There is a silver lining in every cloud

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EWI - May 19, 2011

Not on the Irish Times website, she wasn’t.

It’s been all Queenie, all day.

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Pope Epopt - May 20, 2011

People who you wouldn’t expect have gone utterly soft in the head over Mrs. W. Reasons to despair of this country number n+1.

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EWI - May 20, 2011

I was told by RTÉ Six-One News today that Lizzie was over here as a “pilgrim”. Where the British Queen herself had said this, we weren’t informed.

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17. Roger Cole - May 19, 2011

Throughout his careeer Fitzgerald consistently advocated the transfer of power away from the Irish people and their democratic institutions in referendum after referendum to the EU and its institutions. He suppported virtually all imperial wars up to and including the Iraq War. He was an imperialist who was totally opposed to Irish independence, democracy and neutrality. His total support for Ireland integration into the US/EU/NATO axis with its militaist and neo-liberal economic values that have made Ireland into bankrupt US aircraft carrier means he was one of the greatest enemies of the Connolly socialst traditions for generations.

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Jim Monaghan - May 20, 2011

Spot on Roger. His politics were formed early on. Very pro British. Interestingly he only found out about his mother’s republicanism quite late on. Which he then utilised with a variation of him being the product of 2 traditions.The original was a Catholic, protestant fusion. A parallel with Haughey in a way, as Haughey seemed to claim a connection with every county.
On divorce,contraception etc. I would dispute how much he achieved. I would think that the role played by the women’s movement was very significant. But then it suits the elite to regard everything about social progress as a concession by them not something won on the streets.There again, Garret was very good at coopting the right of every social movement, students (see Sean O’Tuama above) the women’s movement (Fennell and co.)and in UCD, the right of Students for Democratic Action.

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18. tomasoflatharta - May 19, 2011

Garret FitzGerald – “a Politician Often Judged on his Intentions Rather than his Actions” :

http://tomasoflatharta.com/2011/05/19/garret-fitzgerald-a-politician-often-judged-on-his-intentions-rather-than-his-actions/

FitzGerald’s actions opened the door to the Ultra-Catholic Conservative Pro-Life Amendment Campaign, leading to the 1983 Constitutional Ban on Abortion – a disastrous measure we still suffer from today.

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19. EWI - May 19, 2011

And one Denis O’Brien pops up at the ‘concert':

http://www.broadsheet.ie/2011/05/19/speechless/

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20. Earl Williams - May 20, 2011

Re: The RTE obit. Is that a very young Alan Dukes canvassing with GF at 0:45?

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21. So long Garret: A bloggish round up… « Slugger O'Toole - May 20, 2011

[...] via the Cedar Lounge, the RTE [...]

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22. Starkadder - May 20, 2011
23. ejh - May 20, 2011

There’s also one by Maria Farrell, the world’s worst blogger, on Crooked Timber.

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EWI - May 20, 2011

I think in fairness that she has a universe of competition for that title, even in this jurisdiction (and no, I don’t know the woman).

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ejh - May 20, 2011

I think it’s the sheer mediocrity that gains her the title. Actually it’s just as well it’s an obituary, as it gives a slim excuse for yet another “let me tell you about this wonderful politician who I know personally” Farrell fan letter.

I thought your contribution to the thread admirably restrained.

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EWI - May 20, 2011

I thought your contribution to the thread admirably restrained.

Thanks. I reserved this week’s char-grilling for the Irish Economy thread on GF:

http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2011/05/19/death-of-garret-fitzgerald/#comments

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ejh - May 20, 2011

That’s not the same Michael Hennigan who was British Chess Champion in 1993, is it?

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EWI - May 21, 2011

That’s not the same Michael Hennigan who was British Chess Champion in 1993, is it?

No idea if he and Mr. Finfacts are the same.

I do know that he obviously has a marvellous regard for CCO’B, though. Who knew that the Cruiser was responsible for the Peace Process, by being against it!

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CMK - May 20, 2011

That’s a tad harsh about the bould Maria. What’s harder to deal with in the Crooked Timber obituary is the juxtaposition between the real human, completely understandable, love Maria Farrell has for Garrett Fitzgerald and the fact that the latter was well on his way to creating an economic apocalypse before he was booted out in 1987. Listening to Sarah Burke on yesterday’s ‘Drivetime’ was another succession of cosy reminiscences about holiday’s GF in the South of France. While listening to it I was thinking of everyone I knew who had to take the boat between 1985-1987, one of who ended up doing serious time as a guest of our current guest…

There are two Irelands and the coverage of Gareth’s death rams that home.

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Earl Williams - May 20, 2011

The other Ireland must govern, to coin a phrase.

Speaking of which, this may be off topic (or then again not) but was Sean McEntee the minister who decided that Ireland didn’t need that much education provision because the lower orders only had to be fit enough to dig holes etc.

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WorldbyStorm - May 20, 2011

There are two Irelands and the coverage of Gareth’s death rams that home.

Excellent point, and that’s not to say Fitzgerald had no achievements or wasn’t a decent person, simply that that gap between the two is very great and even those who are well-intentioned on one side don’t necessarily get the width of it.

The other Ireland must govern, to coin a phrase.

That’s an excellent point too.

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CMK - May 20, 2011

Not off topic, at all. McEntee, apparently, called Gareth to his deathbed to lament the mess Haughey had made of FF and would make of the country.

Let me just add, that McEntee is someone who deserved to end his life with his back against a wall facing a worker’s firing squad. That b*****d did everything in his power in the early 1940s to strangle any proposals to establish what became the utterly threadbare welfare state here. His cries against ‘Beveridgeism’ and his unremitting hostility to the introduction of a children’s allowance in 1944 show what a f****r he was and how is nefarious influence lives on.

It’s no surprise that he found solace in confiding to Garret.

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WorldbyStorm - May 20, 2011

Just as a general point, I don’t think anyone here is too concerned with off topic material as long as it’s broadly within the general context of a topic being discussed. So MacEntee is fair game. I mean conversations change direction offline so it’s a bit harsh to give out about it happening naturally as above. And this is really interesting stuff in its own right anyhow, but it clearly has a relevance.

[Off-topic trolling is a different matter - obviously]

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24. Robert Browne - May 20, 2011

Don’t worry you will soon be a minority in your own country complete with abortion on demand especially for the hoards of the unemployed, you already have IMF rule, debt slavery and mass emigration of Irish who as they leave the country are being passed by immigrants on the way into the country from even poorer countries.

Ultra Catholic my arse even heretics like myself are completely opposed to abortion. In China, you can pop around to your local abortion clinic if you need some aphrodisiac or some nutrition.

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Earl Williams - May 21, 2011

In your case, I’d be prepared to legalise post-natal abortion.

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25. Earl Williams - May 21, 2011

Anyway, back on topic. I was thinking, what would someone with a Garret-type brain do today? He or she wouldn’t go into politics, they’d probably take to a life of crime, by joining Goldman Sachs or some similiar institution.

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sonofstan - May 21, 2011

That’s an interesting point: with the spread of university education, you’d think there might be more intellectuals – genuine and soi-disant – in politics, but if anything, the opposite is the case. Look at the ’73-77 coalition – on the front bench, Garret,Justin Keating,the Cruiser, all with relatively heavyweight academic backgrounds, compared to the current cabinet – same parties, much the same social backgrounds, but a weird preponderance of primary school teachers (St Pat’s in Druncondra produced three out of the four senior ministers in the current cabinet – Kenny, Noonan and Howlin).

Not too dissimilar in Britain – there was definitely a big brain on Gordon, but the current lot – Willetts, reputedly, the rest? Where are the Foots, the Shirley Williams’, the Woy Jenkins’? Even the Alan Clarks? Politicians used to be able to write good, interesting books and not just about politics, but is anyone honestly waiting breathlessly for the Varadkar diaries?

Whereas, perhaps strangely, in the US, where we tend to be patronising about the vulgarity and crassness of campaigning, there is an undeniable braininess at the top, and not just among Democrats.

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ejh - May 21, 2011

Who are the big brains among Republicans then? Gingrich maybe? Who else?

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sonofstan - May 21, 2011

Rice, Wolfowitz for two

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Tomboktu - May 22, 2011

there was definitely a big brain on Gordon, but the current lot – Willetts, reputedly, the rest?

Don’t know how academic Hague is, bit he has published biographies of Wilberforce and of Pitt the Younger.

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26. dmfod - May 21, 2011

Am I alone in thinking this is slightly weird?

Front page of Irish Times website:
“Public can file past coffin at the Mansion House where Dr. FitzGerald is lying in repose”

I don’t think I can handle much more obeisance between this, Obama and the Queen…

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EWI - May 21, 2011

There was fawning this morning on Finucane about how well and fit she is for an 85-year-old.

Nothing to do with having access to healthcare that even ex-FG taoisigh can only dream of.

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dmfod - May 21, 2011

Exactly what I was thinking. I bet their life expectancy is about 20 year longer than everyone else, which means the old bag may actually make good on her threat to come back :(

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EWI - May 21, 2011

The mother lived to a hundred and one, as I recall. Presumably she’ll be looking to similar “assisted” longevity.

I was just reminded of the legendary longevity of US Senators, several of whom have made it to the full century while in that chamber (all rich men, many with wealthy corporate interests sponsoring their votes).

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tomasoflatharta - May 21, 2011

Liz Windsor does not have to wait for care in a health service shaped by Mary Harney where money talks – the Windsors of this world queue-jump (and cover up their anti-social behaviour by labelling it “choice”) – people like Suzie Long die.

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Jackson Way - May 22, 2011

Nah, enjoy it. It’s always a pleasure to see a dead Tory.

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27. Gerry Barnes - May 22, 2011

Garret was a nice intelligent man. The nice face and voice of monetarist public policy. Tony Gregory knew who he could do a deal with and relieve some of the despairing social conditions in one of Dublin’s gloomiest areas. Dr. FitzGerald (may God’s peace be upon him) could fetch and analyze statistics and discourse on lofty international topics; but scheming, vain, power-hungry and pragmatic Haughey knew what the lower classes wanted and knew how to deliver.

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Alex Hughes - May 22, 2011

“Tony Gregory knew who he could do a deal with ”

Tony Gregory was ready to do a deal with Fitzgerald, but Fitzgerald didn’t show up to the meeting. That’s a fact.

“power-hungry Haughey”

And Fitzgerald WASN’T power-hungry? He fell into the job of Taoiseach by accident, did he?

“Haughey knew what the lower classes wanted and knew how to deliver”

The lower classes? you come onto a site like cedarlounge and use a phrase like ‘lower classes’?

That’s just flaming. Think it’s obvious you’re not here to join a discussion, but to start a row.

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28. Robert Browne - May 22, 2011

I am amazed by all the fawning, revisionist group think flooding of the airwaves telling us to basically know our place. I went to pay my respects to Garret but I remember the other side of him also. The side Tony Gregory knew about.

Garrett organized a bailout for himself when his little investment in Guinness Peat went belly up and the banks were coming for their money. They did a bit of “debt forgiveness” for the former Taoiseach who had coincidentally given them a bail out with ICI. When questioned about bailouts for the ordinary person he invoked the old moral hazard argument. Bailouts for ordinary people?

He left a government fall because he wanted to tax children walking to school. Thank you Mr. Kemmy. Not to mention his extraordinary entry into the Lenihan debate alongside Alan Dukes of Anglo Irish Bank to get NAMA over the line. Sherry Fitzgerald were one of the first auctioneers to receive a NAMA bailout! Is that a happy coincidence too? The Cedar Lounge? What is the “Cedar Lounge”? A place where fanciful left wing ‘revolutionaries’ hang out? Except that might mean having to get up and actually do something.
Slan Leat lads!

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Earl Williams - May 22, 2011

Well, that’s us told!

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WorldbyStorm - May 22, 2011

+!

I’ve given up trying to work out why certain interactions take place online. They just do and have to be endured and then ignored.

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smiffy - May 22, 2011

I too have encountered an opinion with which I disagreed on this site, and therefore have no alternative but to strop off.

GOOD

DAY

SIR

(I said GOOD DAY!!!)

*knob*

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Mick Ahern - May 22, 2011

I remember having a pint in Fairview with Tony Gregory in the dim and distant past, when the Fitzgerald family came up in conversation.
I told him that a employee of Cheeverstown House told me that that Garret’s wife Joan used the pool a lot to ease her arthritic pain.
Tony, like myself, said he wouldn’t begrudge anyone getting relief from the crippling pain of arthritis – with the proviso that the same facility was available for all.
The trouble is that wasn’t.
Tony added that he had constituents pleading with him for help in getting relatives access to Cheeverstown for its various services. It was impossible to do this, according to officialdom, because of financial restraints, waiting lists, and all the usual guff.
It was the same old story ….one rule for the elite and another for the working class!

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WorldbyStorm - May 22, 2011

That’s the thing. No one begrudges either GFG or his wife that, the problem is the wider perspective. Vincent Browne had a goodish piece in the SBP about how GFG didn’t really get equality issues.

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Jim Monaghan - May 22, 2011

“I went to pay my respects to Garret ”
Well I suppose you had some respect for him.
I didn’t.

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29. Gerry Barnes - May 23, 2011

Alex, I used the expression ‘the lower classes’ simply as a shorthand for those residents of the Tony Gregory constituency (may heaven’s blessings rest upon him) who live on, and often just subsist on, low incomes, whether they be paid workers or welfare dependents. Tony Gregory grew up among them and took an historical opportunity to extract concessions for them from a Taoiseach. He didn’t like Haughey’s wealth and vanity, but probably concluded that he rather than the statistical economist FitzGerald would do the business.

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Alex Hughes - May 23, 2011

A pejorative term is not simply shorthand.

Would you say niggers or trailer-trash simply as shorthand?

The ‘lower classes’ is how you see the people of inner-city Dublin. It was never the way Tony Gregory saw himself and his neighbours.

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30. Alex Hughes - May 23, 2011

Just on the thought-process behind this post on the death of Garret Fitzgerald.

There are more than a few differences between spain and Ireland, but the one that stikes me today is that were José Maria Aznar to die in the morning, I don’t think there’s one Spanish left-wing site which would express their sadness at his passing, nor dedicate an entire post for readers to express same.

Similarly, when Konstantinos Mitsotakis finally shuffles off – which can’t be long now – I suspect we won’t be hearing many notes of sadness emanating from Greek left-wing blogs.

Irish left wing bloggers are expressing their sadness at the passing of a right-wing politician. I think that goes a long way to explaining why Ireland is not Greece.

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T - May 23, 2011

I think Ireland was not Greece prior to the invention of blogging.

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Alex Hughes - May 23, 2011

Wow! Did you work that out all by yourself?

T can read a map. Maybe there’s hope for the Irish left after all.

But you do realize that the attitudes, analysis and opinion that people bring to blogging existed before blogging? That such attitudes find expression THROUGH the medium, not BECAUSE of it?

Tell me you have the cognitive capacity to understand at least that part of the comment.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

Alex, this blog is a broad church and not everyone who contributes is necessarily of the left, but whether IELB expressed his sadness as was his right I can’t for the life see where he invited others to do so. And as long as responses are within the bounds of moderation I wouldn’t curtail expressions of sadness any more than I’d curtail the sometimes quite trenchant criticism here.

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Alex Hughes - May 23, 2011

I thought the by-line “for lefties too stubborn to quite” referred to this blog?

and you did say yourself in a comment above, “we’re a left wing site”.

So, with the by-line and your own definition of cedarlounge as a left-wing site, it’s not unreasonable to assume that you mean what you say, no?

As far as inviting people to comment or not, comment boxes are for what, exactly?

and again, I’m not saying that cedarlounge shouldn’t have expressed your sadness – I’m saying that it is very telling that you did.

Finally, with regard to being a broad church…

there’s a difference between being a broad church which embraces all the various factions of the left, and a site which embraces all aspects of the left AND right.

But, this is a left-wing site (in your words) that’s written by ‘lefties too stubborn to quit’ (by-line) BUT.. not necessarily everyone is that stubborn, or that left.

anyway, this isn’t about this site per se, but the fawning acquiescence to the right-wing in Ireland which the left-wing parades when right-wing politicians die.

you wouldn’t get that on a european left wing site in a million years.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

Whether one or one wouldn’t get this on a European left wing site is open to question. Point is is that GFG was a significant figure in Irish politics, he died, IELB expressed his own sadness – not in an excessive way but in passing, and that was more or less that.
It would be perverse for the CLR not to have some post on his passing. It would be equally odd for us to close comments to anyone who commented one way or another within moderation guidelines subsequently. I can’t think of a time we’ve done it before in such a situation. So that’s certainly not an ‘invitation’ to share sadness but to simply comment as people always do.

And what’s most striking to me is that of the comments that follow the vast majority are positioned within a critique of his actions while also offering condolences to his family. Hardly a parade of ‘fawning acquiescence’.

Most obviously the reason why GFG gets a pass from some is that GFG did things which elided with, but in my estimation FWIW far from sufficiently, what many leftists myself included sought such as socially liberal policies across a range of areas. Given that these were part and parcel of left campaigns and he was an ally on them however ineffective, I can critique him strongly as regards his lack of interest in the economic side of the equation without ignoring that some of what he did on the social issues side was positive if only because it assisted a conversation about them.

Now that said as regards other quarters of the left, some of what I heard was a bit much to take in the Dáil and elsewhere, I’m thinking in particular of the contributions from certain members of a party that shares office in government today. I can understand that they relate to friendships, but there is definitely something in what you say as regards an ability on the part of some to be honest about the political actions of individuals as distinct from their personalities.

On the broader issue issue and not related to your comment since you don’t argue this, I’d agree with the other comments below that there’s a danger that the ‘glad he’s dead’ comments that have accompanied some of the discourse (and thankfully not on this thread) are akin to the ‘scumbags’ nonsense that we heard elsewhere.

On a final point, I think T’s point was intended as a humorous one and I’m not sure s/he deserves such a scathing response.

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yourcousin - May 23, 2011

I would hope that basic civility exists across national lines.

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Crocodile - May 23, 2011

And, for me, some of the ‘glad he’s dead’ comments re Garret are mirror images of the ‘lock up the scumbags’ rhetoric re the protestors. ‘Basic civility’ is right.

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ejh - May 23, 2011

were José Maria Aznar to die in the morning, I don’t think there’s one Spanish left-wing site which would express their sadness at his passing, nor dedicate an entire post for readers to express same.

Aznar is really quite a way to the right of Fitzgerald, who to my knowledge never spent time as a member Fascist organisations. He’s also personally nasty and arrogant in a way that Fitzgerald never was.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

+1 Croc

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31. LeftAtTheCross - May 23, 2011

Good discussion.

I’m going to own up to having gone along to the Mansion House on Saturday, partly out of pure curiosity but mainly because we had to be up in Dublin that day anyhow and my better half had always expressed admiration for the man and wanted to pay her respects. Well we can’t all be married to Rosa Luxemburg’s after all. Anyway, there was quite a queue outside in the rain to file past the open coffin and sign the book. Very noticable that the vast majority of those queueing looked very well-healed, mostly of an older generation but a fair few in their 30’s and 40’s as well. The sort of crowd you might expect to attend a FG conference. The sort of crowd for whom the discussion above on Fitzgerald’s politics wouldn’t tally with their own lived experiences during the ’70s and ’80s.

I liked CMK’s comment above “There are two Irelands and the coverage of Gareth’s death rams that home.”

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Earl Williams - May 23, 2011

If I was at home I’d have gone just for the experience.

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LeftAtTheCross - May 23, 2011

Whew, just as well I came clean there, the IT have us in their photo of the queue http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0523/1224297547028.html

That’s hilarious, I was actually telling my kids as we queued that I was hoping we wouldn’t get photographed, that it would be just as embarrassing for me as it was for them when they were photographed on the May Day march in Dublin last year (their political education is somewhat lacking I admit).

Hope I don’t get marched out of the WP for that now…just to balance things I should add that I’m saving up for a 50th birthday present for myself, a trip to Moscow to visit Lenin’s mausoleum. Honest.

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sonofstan - May 23, 2011

If you’re the chap in the snorkel parka I think you’re safe, LATC!

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LeftAtTheCross - May 23, 2011

:-) Yer man must have been thinking the same as myself, not wanting to be recce’d.

No, we’re just ahead of him in the queue, I’m under the grey umbrella, herself is under the pink one, our eldest has the hoody up, our youngest is in the pink jacket, and our middle lad is out of picture and muttering about how he was born into a family of nerdy parents with nothing better to do on weekends than dragging their kids to see some dead politician!

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32. sonofstan - May 23, 2011

TBH, middle lad has my sympathies……..

Although, as I write, my firstborn has headed off to College Green to see the Big O, leaving me muttering about crowds, and noise,and the weather mumble, mumble, where did I put that cup of tea?

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Mark P - May 23, 2011

Did none of you people run proper indoctrination programmes at all?

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

I’m trying, but if you recall the response to the ICTU/SIPTU march late last year was ‘not enjoying it. I want to go home’… What can you do? What can you do?

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ejh - May 23, 2011

And what was your children’s response?

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Shay Guevara - May 23, 2011

Personally, I blame the parents! Before my young one was able to walk, she was already able to strip and reassemble a Kalashnikov in under 30 seconds. She still stumbles a bit when reciting the Communist Manifesto off by heart, but then, German isn’t an easy language, is it?

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sonofstan - May 23, 2011

Did none of you people run proper indoctrination programmes at all?
:)

I’m guessing from that comment that it is, as aged aunts love saying ‘all ahead of you’

You can’t tell kids anything much – and the things they do remember you saying are precisely the things that will embarrass you most when recalled in company.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

@ejh… she was sympathetic. :)

@shay… brilliant.

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LeftAtTheCross - May 23, 2011

Mark P, I would be happy to receive any suggestions, genuine ones preferred obviously, how to successfully indoctrinate kids from an early age. I appreciate your comment was most probably tongue-in-cheek, but on a serious note it is very difficult to counter the daily indoctrination they receive in their RC-ethos primary schooling, the peer pressure from their friends, and the bombardment they get from TV. Ok, I know I could get rid of the TV, send them 10 miles away to the nearest Educate Together school in Navan, and vet their friends for political correctness, not that they’d have any local friends if they were bussing into Navan for school anyway. It’s an issue, really. Hopefully the war of attrition will begin to work as they develop their own opinions in the teenage years, maybe some of it will have made an impression.

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Shay Guevara - May 23, 2011

My earlier comment about Kalashnikovs etc was of course a joke (in case the social services are looking in).

But seriously, though I hesitate to draw on my own ham-fisted parenting efforts, I think it’s important to realise that you can’t rear a socialist child. It’s something they have to come to under their own steam. If they spend their childhood in a right-on bubble, how does that equip them to survive in the big bad world with all its prejudices? In fact, it’s confronting those prejudices that makes a socialist out of you. I’d guess that’s how most of us developed, really.

It’s important too to realise that kids often have more sense than we do. Maybe getting bored with the speeches at an ICTU march might be a far more mature response than staying and listening intently?

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

I think there’s a lot in that Shay…

Given a broad framework of belief which accepts there’s going to be divergences and that ultimately people have the right to come to their own decisions I think on fundamentals perhaps, just perhaps, they’ll turn out okay.

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LeftAtTheCross - May 23, 2011

Shay, you’ve burst my bubble there, I had visions of my lot reciting the Manifesto in between their 10 times tables and Irish spellings! I know what you’re saying in the sense that a socialist child can’t be reared in a preformatted sense, in current circunstances there’s an element of counter culture implicit in being a socialist, but there is also the Jesuit argument, give them the child and they’ll give you the adult. Unfortunately there’s a lot of it about. Clearly it doesn’t work in all cases, or there would be few enough of us here on the CLR, but in fact there are few enough of us on the Left, and in part it’s because the default narrative for most people’s lives is actually preconstructed and instilled through the mainstream channels, school, media, societal norms. Much as a socialist narrative was the default in the “actually existing socialist states”. It didn’t mean they were in fact all socialists of course, but that’s not the point is it, it’s more that propaganda does have a function, it does have an impact.

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33. Roger Cole - May 23, 2011

With Ireland as part of the EU/US/NATO axis supporting imperial wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and now Libya,there should be more important blog issues on a self declared “left wing” site. Of course we should offer condolences to the family and friends of Garret Fitzgerald, but a left wing site should be critical of a political leader that consistently supported the steady transformation of the EU into a neo-liberal militarised Superstate, especially now that it is ensuring the impoverishment of the Irish people and supporting NATO’s conquest of Libya.

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Earl Williams - May 23, 2011

Because criticism of Garret FitzGerald has, of course, been conspicuous by its absence from this thread.

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LeftAtTheCross - May 23, 2011

“there should be more important blog issues on a self declared “left wing” site”

Roger, I’d imagine that if you offer to write a blog piece on a “more important” issue the CLR could consider posting it here for discussion.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

Roger, I’m very dubious about the word ‘should’ in this context. This is a voluntary effort put together by a group of people with various interests first and foremost Irish politics. Those are the big issues to us and given we all have limited time we do what we can. Garret FitzGerald death is by any metric of significance in the context of Irish politics, and as Earl Williams points out, there’s no end of criticism on this thread of the man.

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34. Andrew Madden - May 23, 2011

Agree with A Hughes above. Garrett was a bubbling old dick head, I couldn’t give a toss about whether he is dead or not – and do not think he is something that should be bothering CLR readers.
A good thing that has come out of his death, as well as it happening, is that the blueshirt’s liberal wing of Sarah Burke, Vincent Browne etc. have been revealed for what they are the acceptable caring face of middle and upper class dominance of our country. Haughey and Fitzgerald good riddance to old rubbish to both of them and now let’s get back to real working class/progressive political debate.

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ejh - May 23, 2011

Why don’t you do that then?

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35. Andrew Madden - May 23, 2011

I will, but this discussing of a blueshirt hero made my blood boil – show some decency lads and don’t have pics of people like him and Bruton appearing on the site – as if we don’t get enough of this crap everyday whether we like it or not.

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ejh - May 23, 2011

this discussing of a blueshirt hero made my blood boil

Then why not turn off the internet and go for a walk?

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36. Roger Cole - May 23, 2011

As a left wing site, there were critical remarks about Fitzgerald, in contrast to the corporate media,
which is the point I was making. There are however more important issues that the legacy of Fitzgerald, one of which, as far as I am concerned, is the integration of Ireland into the EU/US/NATO war machine, in particular, the fact that over 2 million US troops have landed in Shannon Airport since 2001 to take part in imperial wars in Afghanistan,Iraq and Pakistan, wars that are impoverishing not just the people at the receiving end of Obama’s weapons, but the living standards of the people in the EU and the US which are being cut to pay for them. Fitzgerald, of course, spent most of his life supporting this process which was the point of my initial comment.

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37. Andrew Madden - May 23, 2011

Because I hoped that the CLR was a place of safety on the net from fawning, sneaking regarding of blueshirts. Unfortuately not.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

Well that’s an ad hominem attack from the start. Where precisely can you point to ‘fawning, sneaking regard of blueshirts’? Unless the simple mention of the death of the man counts. And in any serious discussion it doesn’t.

I’m fairly amazed by how rigidly we’re meant to conform to some pre-formatted idea of leftism which to judge from the above means we can’t even discuss GFG. I’d have thought kicking off a discussion on the merits or otherwise of GFG was precisely the sort of business this site should be in.

And to be honest it is. No one is forced to contribute to this tread, there are a multiplicity of posts on various matters economic, social and political from a left perspective I and others have written where we haven’t had one comment.

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Alex Hughes - May 23, 2011

Again you’re missing the point. you can talk about Garret the Great all you want, but this was a post which set out to express sadness at his passing – explicitly set out to express sadness and to mark the measure of the man as someone a cut above the rest of his right-wing contemporaries.

I find that utterly bizzare on a site which claims to be a left-wing, (as per your comment above) as well as for ‘lefties too stubborn to quit.’
and as for the idea that ‘left-wing’ is NOT in itself a pre-formatted idea!

Left-wing is not an app for your iphone! It’s not a piece of fashion. It’s a critical engagement with the world which is, like it or not, bounded by certain conclusion about why our world works the way it does, and what we can do to change that situation.

In power, Garret fitzgerald did everything he could to make this country a harsher place for the working class. nothing he did brought Ireland towards equality. The reforms he championed were middle class reforms – that is, reforms of the marketplace, not of the workplace.

you have all the right in the world to express your sadness at his passing – I just don’t know why you would.

It seems the best route was just to pass over the matter as a mark of respect – as Joe Higgins and the ULA have done. Even Sinn Fein’s comment was the normal ‘condolences to the family.’

As I said, the idea that a Greek or Spanish left-wing site would note their sadness at the passing of the leader of the main right-wing party in their respective countries I think shows just how utterly bizarre this post has been.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

Alex. Firstly, I didn’t write the original post, something I’ve already pointed out so you’re presumably reiterating that I have for rhetorical effect.

Secondly you’re conflating the post with the site which seems by your interpretation to allow for no individual variance of tone or analysis on the part of contributors here.

Thirdly I think you’re wilfully misinterpreting what is actually happening here [as does your reference to Garret the Great - a phrase which no-one on here has used]. This wasn’t a post that ‘explicitly set out to express sadness at his passing’, but noted sadness on the part of the poster – which could for all you know be the equivalent of expressing condolences – and noted that some here wouldn’t find him a popular figure while contextualising him in an Irish political context with reference to political materials.

I could find it a bit insulting to that you would accuse those of us here of believing that the left philosophy is equivalent to an “app” or fashion simply because I (and we) believe that individual responses to specific circumstances aren’t preformatted but are contingent on many many circumstances even if the basic tenets aren’t. I could. But I don’t, because your approach seems to be one of finding fault with us and you’re going to do that whatever is said to the contrary by me or others here.

BTW, just to be clear. On a political level I would have profound antagonism towards FG (while liking individuals in it). I believe they’re a huge problem.

I also believe that GFG although not bad on social issues was very poor on economic issues. But in the context of the fights that those of us were engaged in in the 1980s I’ll give him some credit as regards dealing with the former. And social issues aren’t simply restricted to the middle class as you and I both know.

But as others have noted, there’s such a thing as civility. You implicitly postioned us within a broader context of ‘fawning acquiescence’ in one of your critiques. That’s unfair. But what the hell…

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Alex Hughes - May 23, 2011

Well I’m sure you’ll deal with the positive effects of Taoiseach Fitzgerald in your own post – but what exactly did he achieve on social issues?

I know he talked about social issues, but what’s actually on the balance sheet?

I mean, he worked to make Ireland a better place for his privileged class, and did it at the expense of the working class/lower middle class.

He imposed austerity on the majority of this state and called it economics. And he did it to protect the interests of his friends. Remeber, it was fitzgerald who brought in the tax relief for car parks which ensured that large tracts of Dublin city centre remained barren – just so his friends could get some money out of their ‘investments’ until the property market turned. He was a cute as the rest of them.

Sadness indeed. Crocidile is right in one respect: wherever Fitzgerald is, he’s laughing at you, that’s for sure.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

I’m curious as to why you take such a personalised tone in this? You keep stating things as if they are my opinion.

Yet I’ve made it very clear as to what that opinion is. I see FG as very specific political adversaries of the left. I don’t support them. I believe on some – very limited – issues FitzGeralds influence was useful. But for my own reckoning I believe over all his Ministerial stints and stints as Taoiseach were – even in his own own terms – fairly poor. And that’s before we get to class issues which I largely agree with you on.

Not much more I can add to that. If you want to keep knocking us fire ahead.

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LeftAtTheCross - May 23, 2011

“fawning, sneaking regarding of blueshirts”

Apart from IELB’s introductory mention of sadness, which is a generous statement by someone who clearly has a huge interest in the politics and politicians of this state and who runs their own blog as a record of political literature in a manner which is absolutely without bias…apart from that one very neutral comment in the introduction, has there been any commentary here which even remotely suggests that CLR is promoting a “fawning, sneaking regarding of blueshirts”?

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

+1

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ejh - May 23, 2011

I was rather hoping it was a place of safety on the net from people who wanted to tell other people what they should be discussing.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

Precisely. That’s exactly it.

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EamonnCork - May 23, 2011

Sometimes I suspect, rather sadly, that there is no such place of safety on the net.

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38. Roger Cole - May 23, 2011

Wordstorm, I take your point about “should” and apologise.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

No reason to apologise at all Roger, just I hope broadly that people understand that this isn’t an institution or formation so stuff gets missed, or our focus is a bit different or whatever…

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39. EamonnCork - May 23, 2011

And my own feeling about Garret is that he’s well worth discussing precisely because the notion of him as having some kind of left wing sympathies still gets floated, and did this week, in defiance of almost all the evidence to the contrary. Garret’s liberalism like Charlie’s republicanism seemed to exist almost entirely in the eyes of their admirers. As one of the architects of the modern Ireland we’re unfortunate enough to have been saddled with, he’s someone well worth examining in detail. And I say that as someone who’s been extremely critical of him in print. It is, by the way, extraordinary how much of the admiring comments in the media are rooted in personal reminiscence. As someone else pointed out on this thread, you really do get the sense of a governing nexus of politicians and media figures who were in and out of each other’s houses all the time and frolicked by the pool together in the Summer. Which is very different from the experience of almost everyone else in the country.

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ejh - May 24, 2011

See, for instance, the good Maria.

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40. EamonnCork - May 23, 2011

Mind you I ‘should’ be more scrupulous about putting in paragraph breaks.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

I have a piece about him that has that sense too…I’ll post it up over the next day or two. That’s a key thing re his ‘left wing sympathies’. He would seem to me to be a sort of liberal democrat. Not a social democrat. But… he did trade sotto voce on being the latter rather than the former, at least before he became Taoiseach. So that’s worth examining and why so many came to believe him.

Re the interlinking of political media and business circles… too true.

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Garibaldy - May 23, 2011

He was happy to tell people he was a social democrat after he left office as well, but joined FG because he couldn’t have done anything in the Labour Party.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

Yeah. He probably wasn’t wrong in reference to the LP, but joining FG as a solution?

Worse than the problem, surely?

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Garibaldy - May 23, 2011

Well indeed. But such is the logic of someone who wants to be Taoiseach (and possibly believes he has the right to be due to his background).

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

Definitely. It’s what others have said. He came from a class with a sense of entitlement as regards that outcome.

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41. Crocodile - May 23, 2011

CLR allows for a diversity of opinion, which is anathema to the doctrinaire.
There’s a lot on the negative side of FitzGerald’s ledger, but he was a force for pluralism and would probably find it amusing that his death should be the occasion of a dispute over what ‘should’ belong on a political blog.
I found him fairly annoying most of the time, but won’t be celebrating anyone’s death.

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WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2011

I’ve got to be honest, I too found him annoying, beyond the politics. I don’t know if he assumed a certain persona, but… hey what can one do. I take Tomas’s point above that he didn’t do any favours in his messing around with the abortion referendum, but on other issues he opened a door. Though frankly that’s not quite enough for me.

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42. Seamus Clancy - May 23, 2011

I finally got round to reading Vincent Browne’s piece on Garrett Fitzgerald. In his own way, Browne captures the failure of the elite to understand equality.
Coming from the aristocracy of Cumann na Gael which cared little about the underclass, I suppose this elite failed even to notice its existence.
The dispossessed remained far removed from the garden parties, swimming pools and tennis clubs and the general sense of entitlement of these parasites.
Garret came across as an amiable, decent man, a liberal Tory but unfortunately the politics he pursued are far from that.
His political and social decendants, along with those of Haughey, can be seen in in action today as they scheme to weather out their crisis and preserve their wealth at the expense of the poor and with the full protection of their state.

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43. Robert Browne - May 24, 2011

It’s not about the hue or imagined political grouping he was in, it’s about what he actually did for the likes of the north inner city residents of Dublin or the people of Southill or Moyross in Limerick or indeed working class people the length and breath of this little island. How many of these people travelled to the funeral? I’d love to see RTE the national broadcaster produce some stats on that but that would not be playing the game, would it? My guess is 0%.

When Lehihan goes you will see the same fawning the same eulogizing;

“He worked tirelessly for the good of the nation even as he faced his own personal existential crisis, he was brave beyond words, a great loss to the nation, we shall not see his like again!” Blah, blah. I certainly hope not. They destroyed the country and instead of putting themselves in jail for treason and criminal recklessness (an unlikely scenario) they put themselves and their buddies on fat pensions instead, where they will remain until the rest of us grow the balls to take them from them. The media air brushed if not white washed Fitzgerald’s faults as indeed they failed to keep Haughey’s disastrous faults in the public arena. Thereby, allowing the pattern to be repeated ad infinitum, on an even grander scale, until state bankruptcy intervened. The lining of the pockets is going on in earnest. Right now it is grab as much as you can time because the whole lot going to come crashing down. One symptom of this is the professors coming out to call Morgan Kelly a looney! Just as he was a ‘looney” when he said property was going to fall by 70%.

In fairness, Haughey told us the man he was handing power to was 10 times more cunning and devious than he was. But cunning and deviousness is something we lap up. It implies being able to outsmart the ‘landlord class’ still etched in our brains. Hence, our contempt for our architectural heritage… them’s the houses the ruling classes lived in forgetting that every brick and fanlight was crafted by Irish labourers.

The last time Garrett was in office he trebled the national debt. Guiness Peat Aviation, the company on who’s board he sat went belly up despite all the statistical analysis carried out with Nigel Lawson ex Chancellor of the British Exchequer. Naturally, it was not all Garrets fault, Ryan was the man in charge.

The “group think”, as Mr. Nyberg remarked, is a major flaw in our national psyche. After hundreds of years, being under landlords, we have the sucking up trait buried deep in our psyche. I passed two of our self satisfied sneering politicians on Dawson St yesterday, Howlin and Joan Burton and they had cheshire smiles across their faces. The country may be bankrupt but not us!

When we decide to act like the people of NY did with regard to DSK, when we pay no heed whatsoever to reputations, careers, political connections and the nefarious political dynastic connections and just put them in jail, only then, we will start to rebuild this country, that will require a jail even bigger than Mountjoy and it will also require new judiciary. Appointing the likes of big Phil as minister for political reform is a joke and handing a senators job, as a big thanks to a hack like Marie Louise Reynolds shows us how the powers that be still believe they can treat us like serfs.

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44. Gerry Barnes - May 24, 2011

This has been a revealing thread. It has raised conflicting emotions. It has raised a question: Waht are left-wing issues? It has raised the question about what Can and what Should be discussed on a self-declared leftwing website. It has raised an interesting question about Socialist Parenthood. It has raised a question about priorities for discussion on a leftwing website. It has raised a question as to whether it is possible for leftists to admire character traits in a brilliant leader of a generally right-of-center FG party. It has raised a question about the ability of leftwingers to control their emotions when discussing issues. And there have been sharpish comments about terminology, my use of ‘thge lower classes’ being one sharp instance.

I think there are topics for future articles and thread discussions in much of the above.

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45. Seamus Clancy - May 24, 2011

It certainly has been an interesting thread.
I wonder what will be said when Mary Harney (that person of many wonderful character traits) bites the dust?

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irishelectionliterature - May 24, 2011

“She got rid of Dublins smog”

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WorldbyStorm - May 24, 2011

Good point Gerry Barnes and excellent question Seamus Clancy.

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Seamus Clancy - May 24, 2011

What an astute moderator you are!

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WorldbyStorm - May 24, 2011

:)

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46. Andrew Madden - May 24, 2011

She was not an alcoholic?

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47. Ulick - May 24, 2011

” A true revolutionary…. new use of state technology to reach isolated parts of Leitrim … immense vision ….. courage in tackling a dysfunctional health service …. misunderstood ….. much loved by those few who truly knew her ….”

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48. Jim Monaghan - May 24, 2011

I think one of his governments gave away most of the foreshore in Dun Laoghaire harbour to the private yacht clubs.I think the grounds were that these clubs could be trusted more than the local authority.

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49. Robert Browne - May 24, 2011

“She got rid of Dublin smog” Indeed she did and replaced it with something more lethal. How many buildings in the city are draped with mobile phone masts, nice little earners are these “exempted developments”.

Next time you go around the city keep your eyes open for cell masts right outside peoples bedroom windows. Painted to look like bricks or whatever and transmitting thousands of times what an individual phone transmits when you use it. Then, ask Dublin City Council to do something about it and be prepared for one of their magical mystery tours through their planning laws.

Harney will be remembered for all the closure of small hospitals leading to terminally ill and very sick patients having to tour the country in taxis and ambulances to reach a “centre of excellence”, such as Tallaght Hospital where thousands of staff take sick days each year and where 10,000 referral letters were left unopened to prevent people showing up as unfavourable statistics. These people should not be remembered. They need to be made answerable for what they did.

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Seamus Clancy - May 24, 2011

Spot On!

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irishelectionliterature - May 24, 2011

Indeed but 20 years after getting rid of the Smog she still had it as one of her major achievements, which says a lot for the time she actually had real power.

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50. Monsieur Proust - May 24, 2011

148 comments later and no-one seems to have gotten a handle on what sort of social democracy Garret Fitzgerald represented, so here goes: the general thesis of social democracy is that the government should be prepared to tax private enterprise at relatively high levels in order to provide extensive public services and redistribute wealth. Now it may be the case that Garret was not really interested in large-scale redistribution of wealth, but he did continue to insist up to his death that the Irish economy was still “under-taxed” as compared to Germany — to the tune of 5 percent of national income. When he was Taoiseach, the top rate of tax hit 65 percent at a pretty low level of income and government spending in the mid-80s at times exceeded 60 percent of GDP; by any standards, this was about as far as social democracy could go without completely imploding.

This experience of doubling (or was it trebling?) the national debt made him into an extremely “orthodox” social democrat. In other words, he became dead set against large-scale Keynesian-style borrowing and saw deflation as the only way of improving competitiveness. It might seem an odd fit but these positions are actually compatible with an underlying commitment to the high levels of taxation and government expenditure implied by social democracy. Orthodox social democrats tend to separate the economics from the politics in this respect. Other historical examples include Philip Snowden, deficit-slashing Labour Chancellor in the early 1930s, and Herman Muller, the last Social Democratic Chancellor of Weimar Germany. In fact, this is basically the essence of the “German model” today, initiated under a SPD/ Green coalition, and frankly, though it may seem like a rather thin gruel to many on the left, it’s working rather well for them.

So, this is where Garret was coming from as far as I can work out. I never met him but know people who worked closely with him who always said that he was philosophically much closer to Labour than his own party. He more or less admitted on the Vincent Browne show during the election that he had voted for Ruairi Quinn in his own constituency. You may not like it but that seems to be a fair reflection of his politics.

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Glimmerman - May 24, 2011

“by any standards, this was about as far as social democracy could go without completely imploding.”

what nonsense.

doesn’t take into account those who didn’t pay tax whatsoever – i.e. farmers and businesses. Ireland’s rate of tax from paye / vat is hugely disproportionate to the rest of Europe – because they’re the poor suckers who actually pay tax.

Come back when you’ve actually done your homework on Ireland’s tax system – and save us the regurgitation of Ronan Lyon’s sparknotes.

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CMK - May 24, 2011

Is there any truth to the rumour that during a certain year in the 1980s the entire tax take from the farmers of Clare equated to that paid by 9 PAYE workers? I can’t recall where I heard that, but it has stuck in my memory and encapsulated one (among thousands) of the things that was wrong with Ireland then.

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WorldbyStorm - May 24, 2011

Interesting thoughts Monsieur Proust, but like Glimmerman, I beg to differ on the point re taxes. Ireland had and continues to have a narrow enough tax base and simply looking at tax rates is too narrow a focus.

I do agree with you that Fitzgerald did argue consistently for higher taxation though I’ll have to go back and look at his thoughts on higher rates.

One basic problem is that unlike Germany this state never really built up a significant social infrastructure in terms of welfare and other provision, in part precisely because of that taxation issue but also due to other factors. Therefore our welfare state remains rather narrow by contrast to other states and in that sense more open to the depradations of those who would remove parts of it.

And consequently deficit slashing etc, in Ireland is a fairly different animal to say Germany or even the UK where the social state is much more deeply embedded and there’s so much more of it.

For me much of the disappointment with GFG is that his sincerity apart, and I think he sincerely meant very well, that he never grasped that particular nettle.

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irishelectionliterature - May 24, 2011

Regarding CMKs post, there was a battle in the 1982 elections over who would tax farmers the most. Leaflets in Dublin proclaiming that FG would tax the farmers more …..
Down the country leaflets about looking after the interests of Rural Ireland.
Alas I only held on to the Dublin ones.

I remember arguing with relatives down the country about farmers paying no tax ( I was down there for a few weeks to help out on the farm) where upon they argue that indirect taxes on farm related items were higher than on normal items. I gave up.
That said there were an awful lot of farmers living in relative poverty.

The argument about farmers tax evolved into a PAYE vs Self Employed one. A Party call the Tax Reform League fielded five candidates in the 1987 General Election polling 5,330 votes between them.

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Glimmerman - May 24, 2011

By the way, Fitzgerald increased the national debt in one of the same ways as the last and present government have done it – by CUTTING spending and demand, and INCREASING tax relief on asset retention, they created a debt spiral.

The absolute bollox the right-wing in this country talk, I mean, really.

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Monsieur Proust - May 24, 2011

Slightly taken aback by the ad hominem vitriol; try, just for a minute, to think of political discussion in terms other than that of a pub brawl, will you? There’s already a pretty venomous streak on this thread directed at a basically honourable man who is barely in the grave. It’s pretty unpleasant to behold, I have to tell you.

As for the points I made, I was trying to outline what seemed to me to me to be Garret’s essential view of political economy. I didn’t claim to share it; if you must know, I’m inclined to think he was much too orthodox in many respects.

And you’re right about the farmers and tax evasion during the 1980s, but the idea that there was a pot of gold there which would have solved all our problems had the government gotten a hold of it is for the birds. The point is that 60 percent of GDP was a very high level of government expenditure and that it was reached at a time when Garret was Taoiseach. This was not the policy of a “Celtic Tory”.

And why don’t you go and “educate yourself” (as you so gracefully put it) about the European tax system? You will discover that VAT is by far the biggest source of receipts in pretty much every continental European country.

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WorldbyStorm - May 24, 2011

Glimmerman, Monsieur Proust has a point. Time to take it a bit easy and not paint attitudes onto people who may or may not hold them but in any case deserve a more respectful hearing.

And apologies M. Proust, I should have called time on that earlier, but I’m wresting with a few things off line simultaneously.

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Glimmerman - May 24, 2011

Economies are not ‘pots of gold’. They are dynamic systems.

If you don’t even know that, well….

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51. Jim Monaghan - May 24, 2011

he was philosophically much closer to Labour than his own party. He more or less admitted on the Vincent Browne show during the election that he had voted for Ruairi Quinn in his own constituency. You may not like it but that seems to be a fair reflection of his politics.”
I would put it the other way round. Quinn is not a social democrat. I think the shafting of Burton (who was not up to much but ever so slightly better) shows this

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52. fergal - May 24, 2011

On the whole tax issue, several months back a group called the Tax Justice Network claimed that tax fraud and evasion cost in the UK amounted to 170 billion pounds fro a year!What would that equate to in little ole Ireland?
Tax fraud and evasion is like drug abuse in sport.If nobody is tested then everybody’s clean.

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53. Jonathan - May 25, 2011

“There’s already a pretty venomous streak on this thread directed at a basically honourable man who is barely in the grave. It’s pretty unpleasant to behold, I have to tell you.”
One could argue that this is a inevitable reaction to the astonishingly fawning and sycophantic attitude being taken in the mainstream media, whose rush to practically canonise him as St Garret the Good is indictative of their sympathies and a disservice to the man himself, who, like any politician, should have his career analysed dispassionately, based on his achievements, rather than whether he was a nice old gent who was a dab hand at making the tea and once bought the writer a drink in UCD.

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54. Captain Rock - June 2, 2011

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