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Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, again May 7, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in Bits and Pieces, Complete nonsense.

Regarding the title of this post, no, you didn’t miss a previous post in this series.

There’s a knack to being a successful Irish politician. It’s not enough to get things done for your constituency, you need to make sure the voters know that you did it. In fact, the first part of that statement isn’t even true, just the second. (I’ve known some politicians whose technique was to find out what grants, road repairs, housing allocations etc. were scheduled to be announced that day and get a letter out before their rivals could saying they were delighted/happy/pleased to announce that the long-fought for grant/road repair/ housing allocation had been successfully fought for/achieved/agreed, with occasional dips into a thesaurus to put some variety into their letters and press statements.) What you don’t do is promise something that is not in your gift.

Exception 1: you make that kind of promise so you can later resign (the whip or as minister) in order to prove the promise was a matter of principle.

Exception 2: you are Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

In fairness to Aodhán, though, his dud promises aren’t about delivering to his constituents. He has high ambitions for his stint as minister of state. But he doesn’t realise that ministers of state are colloquially referred to as junior ministers for a reason.

One of his first promises was to amend Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act — the bit of the law that allows religious schools to discriminate in the hiring and firing of teachers. Now, this is not a new issue for him, and he really has worked to get is changed. The problem is that that work was when he was a backbencher, and when Alan Shatter was the cabinet minister with responsibility for dealing with this matter — and, vitally, was also interested in doing it. His new boss — sorry, ‘colleague’ — hasn’t shown the same level of interest as Shatter did, and Aodhán doesn’t seem to be able to move things along while she deals with laws on marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

He was also going to sort out direct provision for asylum seekers. He was pleased that a committee — sorry: ‘working group’ — was set up to advise the government — note: not the junior minister — on what ‘improvements should be made to the State’s existing direct provision’. It would be wrong to say that the working group is packed with civil servants who have been happy enough to discourage bogus asylum seekers at the price of letting genuine ones languish in appalling conditions for years, but its membership was carefully crafted to ensure the civil servants do have a majority. And the vehicle of Aodhán’s hopes was shown to be of secondary importance when the cabinet minister introduced legislation to deal with the backlog of cases before the working group had a chance to finish its work (probably because the government needed to demonstrate some action on the disgraceful history in advance of the UN’s human rights body asking awkward questions in Geneva next month).

A third promise was that Traveller ethnicity would be recognised in six months. The six months runs out on 19 May, and I may be premature in declaring that another unfulfilled promise, but the word I am hearing is that the cabinet minister is not as enthusiastic about this as her predecessor was.

Now Aodhán has had responsibility for drugs added to his brief. And I hear that he says he wants to see medically supervised injecting centres for heroin users in place before the next election. I know that linguistically ‘want to see’ is not the same as ‘promise’, but when you’re a minister, even a junior one, that could be seen as a commitment. Forgive me for doubting it will happen. Again.


1. jozeemac - May 7, 2015

Back in the 70s and even into the 80s, a house phone was still rare enough in many quarters even though cost was no longer an issue for many people. Rather, it was simply the extraordinarily long waiting lists to have one actually installed that caused delays of months, even years, in some cases. A well-known Cork city TD (long since gone) had a contact in a local P&T service depot (Dept of Post & Telegraph, as it was then known, precursor to Telecom Eireann, then Eircom etc etc, and the body responsible for installing phones) and would regularly receive a discreet list of scheduled installations for the coming month. Then our bould public representative would pay a courtesy call to houses on the list: ‘I just happened to be in the neighbourhood, was wondering how ye’re all getting on, do ye need anything, is there anything I can help ye with? Are ye down for the phone at all? Ye are? How long?!!! Jesus, that’s outrageous!! Let me see what I can do.’ And, of course, a week or two later, yet another happy constituent could call from the comfort of their own abode to personally thank their beloved public representative for his sterling interventions on behalf of the people!! Hoovered up the first preferences, that man did!!


2. dmfod - May 7, 2015

Don’t forget he’s also going to legalise cannabis and bring in paternity leave!


3. fergal - May 8, 2015

You have to wonder why a junior minister flies so many kites andd gets so much media coverage. On the big issue of austerity, he says nothing- well I suppose the working class can always spark up a spliff, shoot up and watch as their ‘betters’ continue to rule


que - May 8, 2015

Because he can?

As long as he is seen as championing the issues he does then he will be billed as a campaigning minister. Politically he should be thrown under a bus but he can use his campaigns as a shield – a good guy, fighting the good fight, uphill struggle but decent in his own way, an ally really but ach sure he is in Labour other than etc.

He should be under the political bus with Joan and the rest but will he thrown under there. Its unlikely even if he talks shite and does nothing he has ally status.

He shouldn’t or perhaps people disagree that this is a phenomenon helping him avoid the worst vitriol directed at Labour.


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