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The 30th Dáil and the new recruits to our great democracy… Part 1 of a continuing series… September 29, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Irish Politics.

A difficult evening on Wednesday for Bertie Ahern during the debates on his leadership. Still, notable, as the Irish Times put it, for the following example of discomfiture on the part of our hero.

Mr. Ahern singled out an attack made on him by new Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar.
“I am big enough to take it, but when you hear a new deputy who isn’t a wet day in the place not alone castigatin me – well, I will take that – but also castigating Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

And the cause of his ire?

From the Dáil Record…

Deputy Mary Hanafin: I am proud to be Minister for Education and Science.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Deputy Hanafin is the worst Minister by a mile.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: I wish to share time with Deputies Sheehan and Creed.
This debate is not about the Government’s record on Northern Ireland, the economy, the health service, transport and the environment. It is not about the personal affairs of the Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, despite his attempts to bring family problems into the debate at every possible opportunity afforded by RTE but not by the tribunal.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Following in the footsteps of gutter Fine Gael.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: This is about low standards and credibility. Politicians should not take money for personal benefit from wealthy people. I do not know why the Taoiseach took the money. I do not know if the reason he took money in Manchester was that some of them were the Manchester investors in the casino project in my constituency. I do not know why the Taoiseach took money from Mr. Michael Wall, a private bus operator looking for bus services to be deregulated in this country. I would like to know because I do not accept the reasons provided.
What the Taoiseach has done is no different from what Mr. Liam Lawlor, Mr. Charles Haughey, Deputy Lowry and former Deputy Ray Burke did. In none of those cases do we have documentary evidence of corruption. The reason they are discredited, disgraced and removed from office is they behaved in an inappropriate manner by receiving large sums from private individuals for personal gain. The same standards should be applied to the Taoiseach. Just because he is Head of the Government does not mean lower standards should be applied. By any international standard, he would no longer be Head of the Government. In Germany Ministers resign when they keep frequent flyer points accrued on Government flights. In Britain Ministers resign for accepting undeclared loans. In the United Kingdom the Taoiseach would not be fit to be a member of a county council. He is certainly not fit to be a candidate for the Fine Gael Party.

Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Hear, hear.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Regarding credibility, most people in the State do not believe the Taoiseach’s assertions about his finances. A journalist in the Sunday Independent wrote that if there was a simple explanation, we would have heard it some time ago.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Was that Deputy O’Dea?

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Nobody believes the Taoiseach’s story. Privately, most of those on the Government benches do not believe it. Nobody believes the Taoiseach did not have a bank account. The only reason he did not have a bank account in that period is worrying and sinister. Nobody believes his claim that the dig-out came from friends. Even Mr. Padraic O’Connor of NCB Stockbrokers, for example, denies that he is the Taoiseach’s friend and stated the money was given to Fianna Fáil. Nobody believes the money the Taoiseach received was for the refurbishment of a new house. Nobody believes the Taoiseach did not deal in dollars. Nobody believes the 24 people in Manchester were his friends. The Taoiseach claims that they were but cannot name them. Nobody believes the Taoiseach, his partner at the time and the bankers forgot to count the money.
History will judge the Taoiseach with more sophistication than the Sunday newspapers or Senator Harris.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: The people judged him on 24 May, which Fine Gael keep forgetting.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: History will judge him and, in some ways, as a successful Taoiseach. It will also judge his years as Taoiseach as a lost opportunity to achieve great things done in other booms such as the Adenauer years in Germany or the post-war years in America.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: We will see what Deputy Varadkar achieves.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Sadly, this dark affair will darken the Taoiseach’s record in the same way as Tony Blair’s involvement in Iraq or Bill Clinton’s corruption and personal scandals darkened theirs. History will judge the Taoiseach as being both devious and cunning, in the words of his mentor, master and, clearly, role model.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: The Deputy was well trained by US Republicans.

Entertaining on so many different levels. Firstly, in fairness Minister Hanafin is actually not bad at all, so lets put that one down to partisan political sniping. Still got to love the sideswipes at ‘Senator Harris’, the apparent superiority of Fine Gael and indeed the mention of Bill Clinton’s corruption (?) scandals.

Also got to love Brian Lenihan’s gibe. When in doubt push back hard with the opposite message. Still, does make one wonder whether it is the most effective argument LV could deploy in this context. Dissing those who might well be your allies – or partners – in future is not necessarily the wisest course of action and while I’m fairly certain the State Department doesn’t worry overly much about the comments of one opposition Deputy we have a hungry media all too willing to keep such things on file for the – ahem – appropriate time… We’re not in Dublin West any longer.

Rumour has it that Leo Varadkar is 28.

I’ll leave the last word with Ahern.

I wish him well, I would say he will get an early exit,” he concluded.


1. Wednesday - September 29, 2007

in fairness Minister Hanafin is actually not bad at all

I know a language resource teacher in the west of Ireland who would disagree with you 😉


2. splinteredsunrise - September 29, 2007

Although I’d give her one brownie point for sticking up for Old Irish at UCD…


3. WorldbyStorm - September 29, 2007

Perhaps ‘all that bad’ would be a better phrasing…


4. sonofstan - September 29, 2007

Commenting on the shambles in Balbriggan at the start of this month, she was of the opinion that no school in the country should be exclusively for one race, which opened up the diverting prospect of black kids being bussed to remote national schools…


5. coc - September 29, 2007

ha ha! Just read this post and got to the end in fairness Minister Hanafin is actually not bad at all and thought WTF? Clicking straight on “Comment” I see I’m not the only one to be taken aback at this observation. That woman is a disgrace and will be found out eventually. Personally, I can’t wait. Nor can children the length and breadth of the country. Please god Cowan will dump (or at least demote) her.


6. WorldbyStorm - September 29, 2007

Hey, I’m a generous guy. Gimme a break!


7. coco - September 30, 2007

Wake up. Character assainations are silly.

Hanafin was Magill politician of the year last year.

Varadkar is another Brian Hayes in the making. Worse still, that actually might be something to which he aspires.

Fun to watch Leo and Lucinda make idiots of themselves this week. Long may they volunteer to have their names put to histrionic press releases.


8. WorldbyStorm - September 30, 2007

The SBP had an excoriating analysis of them coco. Said they sounded as if they were at a private FG students meeting, if I recall correctly. Not far wrong there.


9. John - September 30, 2007

The SBP had an excoriating analysis of them coco.

Interestingly, like yourself, the SBP’s excoriating analysis of the Leo’s comments failed to mention the bit that most likely really hit home with An Taoiseach. But then again, in the case of the SBP it was a piece presumably written by some form of FF hack who had an interest in lashing FG and pretending the likes of Leo are idiots.

BTW, Hanafin is quite a good politician in that she keeps the media and the teachers in line. As a minister, I would judge her on issues like proper planning for schools, funding at third level and the like. Not how much Magill likes her.


10. WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2007

Well to be honest John I wasn’t interested so much in what would hit home with the Taoiseach as with the overall presentation on the day which as I noted previously struck me as poor… I’m not an FF party hack in any respect, quite the opposite, and I value the benefits of a good opposition particularly in the face of a government which is clearly locked in for the medium to long term. I’ve met LV and he strikes me as intelligent, but all this stuff quoted above is playing to the gallery, and an FG one at that. I don’t think it, or indeed the events on the day, had any substance whatsoever. And… a further point. When Ahern has gone what then? If FG focuses it’s strength on one man that personalises the issue. When the man is gone we are left with an FF that has moved to a new generation with no hint or taint of the Haughey years. I think there are vastly better – and politically more astute in the long term – reasons to criticise the current government, and its predecessor above and beyond this.


11. WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2007

I’d also suspect that the Haughey years as an issue in the mind of the public is one that has less and less resonance. The 1980s are now two decades behind us. Most of those involved have moved out of politics. The tenor of the contemporary period is quite different. FF itself is also different although no less open to ‘excoriating’ critiques. As a hook upon which to hang a political project, i.e. ousting FF from power, it seems to me to be one with diminishing returns and one which in its innate negativity doesn’t resonate with the electorate. And while it may be irritating the basic truth is that the public simply do not measure Aherns omissions or commissions by the same yardstick they did Haughey. Or to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen “we knew Charles Haughey and he ain’t no Haughey”. This may or may not be great but that is the way the public largely views this.

BTW, on re reading my earlier post about Ahern last week I was surprised what an easy ride I gave him.


12. Wednesday - October 1, 2007

in the case of the SBP it was a piece presumably written by some form of FF hack who had an interest in lashing FG and pretending the likes of Leo are idiots

Well in the case of Lucinda it could have been written by anyone. Including her party colleagues, both in the Dáil and DCC, who don’t seem to care who knows how much they dislike her.

on re reading my earlier post about Ahern last week I was surprised what an easy ride I gave him

I had the same reaction on re-reading my September 2006 Bertiegate post.


13. coco - October 1, 2007


That’s fair enough comment. But, just to be clear on your very last point, the Magill politician of the year is not actually chosen by the editor of that magazine or any of its editorial staff. It’s ajudicated by quite a broad panel of political correspondents across the domestic media (broadsheet, tabloid, radio, tv, etc).


14. Ed Hayes - October 1, 2007

Actually I thought Leo’s comments re immigration and schools during the election campaign were both cheap attempts to play the race card and populist right wing ploys that put him right in the best FG blueshirt tradition. Bring on the mongrel foxes!


15. WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2007

Funny isn’t it Wednesday? I suspect it’s because I see him as an individual, and I think there are systemic flaws which are of much greater import.


16. Dublin Opinion · Over To You John: Disillusion, Democracy and Local Government Reform - October 2, 2007

[…] that most people will have a low boredom threshold for the daily haranguing in the Dail, or hot TD on TD action, which we currently being forced to witness, now that the Dail has been reconvened and Bertie is […]


17. What really got up Ahern’s goat? « Revenge of the Demented Rabbit - December 1, 2007

[…] Ahern reacted in such a way was noteworthy enough for even the sober citizens of the Cedar Lounge Revolution to pick up on the issue and have a cut at the newbie from Dublin […]


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