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Caretaker administration February 27, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Noel Whelan isn’t entirely wrong when he writes in the IT that:

Unfortunately, the delay [between FG leaders] will serve to make our already weak politics even more vulnerable. Kenny will be clinging to office for another eight or 10 weeks but will have no power. Since this minority Government came into being last May it has been low energy. Before that, for two months last spring, Kenny and his Ministers were merely in a caretaker capacity. It is surreal that this spring again, for the next two months we will have what is effectively another caretaker government. Fine Gael ministers will not be focused on their jobs. They will be absorbed by the machinations of the leadership race.

But I think he’s far too kind. We arguably already have a caretaker government. And everything he writes merely points this up:

Not only is the Taoiseach himself now a lame duck, but all Fine Gael ministers will be running their departments only on a care and maintenance basis, knowing that they are likely to be reshuffled by Kenny’s successor and some of them are likely to be shuffled out. Another spell of even weaker government seems a high price for the country to pay just so that Kenny can beat some Fine Gael milestones, such as outlasting John A Costello in office. This may be of interest to historians but matters nothing to voters.

The government is already remarkably low-wattage. Little is being done in terms of legislation, indeed the government has made a virtue of necessity in that regard, losing Dáil votes, pushing through new measures with remarkable sloth if only in order to not antagonise their silent partner – Fianna Fáil.

We have a government, we are not fully governed. It’s quite a situation, and nothing short of an election is likely to see that change.

Ascribing blame is almost beside the point. Fine Gael and Labour were unloved, but few would argue FF was much more loved. And the broader fragmentation of Irish politics is such that it was always going to be a stretch to cobble together a long term broad based coalition to govern for the next while.

By the way, Whelan points up one dispiriting aspect of the FG leadership race.

It would be regrettable if the period merely allowed for more of the tabloid- type coverage that even some supposedly serious media have engaged in about the Fine Gael leadership contest over the past week. Independent newspapers in particular seem determined to make relationship status an issue in this race. I have followed media coverage of Simon Coveney as closely as many political commentators over the past 16 years but I don’t think I have ever seen a picture of him with his wife or members of his family before the Independent decided to run one on its front or second page each day last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. These photos of Coveney were always juxtaposed beside one of Leo Varadkar on his own.

And:

Independent newspapers have also run tittle-tattle stories about Varadkar’s own relationship and a series of columns devoted, at least in part, to suggesting that it matters who our taoiseach’s spouse would be. It echoes the suggestion touted by Bertie Ahern’s opponents in the early 1990s that the “people needed to know where their taoiseach sleeps at night”. It was insidious then. One would have thought that 25 years later we would have moved on from such nonsense.

I’ve complained about the lack of ideological differentiation that the supposed contest is about, but almost as bad is to import extraneous irrelevancies. I think it good someone calls out the Independent newspapers on this.

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Comments»

1. Alibaba - February 27, 2017

Kenny threw the rattle out the pram and waits to see who and how they pick it up.

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2. CMK - February 27, 2017

Whelan is not a Marxist, obviously, so he’s struggling to put his finger on what he identifies as the malaise in government.

That’s easily enough explained: all of the big socio-economic issues, macro economic policy etc. are now governed by the fiscal regulations of EU membership. There is almost nothing for a Eurozone member government to do in the when it comes to fiscal or broader economic policy. The class interests who dominate the Irish state are now back on the pigs-back with a growing property bubble which this time has the added bonus, for them, of huge rent increases rooted in the collapse of house building post 2008 leading to housing scarcity now. They’re not going to permit any nonsense like rent controls or other legislative attempt to ameliorate the burden on the vast majority. Billions would have to be borrowed to begin to to address the housing needs of the population and that, neatly enough, is ruled out by the European fiscal rules.

So, there is actually very little for an establishment government to do. The one major political issue that they could address – abortion – they have managed to push it off the agenda for a few years and likewise with the water charges. Shane Ross’ insistence on not getting involved in the Bus Éireann dispute is a nice example of that malaise.

An election that returns, which it will, a government committed to governing within the same parameters as have existed since 2011 will suffer the malaise and aimlessness, at least from the perspective of the establishment media political analysts and commentators.

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oconnorlysaght - February 27, 2017

CMK is right, of course, in that every Government that is immediately likely to be established here will be bound by EU fiscal red tape. However, and like successive Greek governments, that is their choice. Even if the EU evaporated tomorrow, they would still stick to it. Socialists should learn from brexit and not attack the beast frontally, but simply refuse to play its game and break with it on their grounds rather than on those of the atavistic bourgeoisie.
Noonan should have let that bomb go off. It probably never entered his thick skull to do so. Sadly, I cannot think of any immediately likely replacement to him who would do so either.

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CL - February 27, 2017

‘FORMER TAOISIGH BRIAN Cowen and John Bruton have joined the board of an Irish think tank that is backed by some of the country’s biggest companies….
The IIEA is funded primarily by its membership subscriptions. Its supporters include AIB, Bank of Ireland, building giant CRH, Denis O’Brien’s Digicel, Google and Goldman Sachs.”
http://www.thejournal.ie/brian-cowen-john-bruton-iiea-2-3261414-Feb2017/

Dan O’Brien is Chief Economist at the Institute of International and European Affairs, one of Ireland’s leading think tanks.
http://www.iiea.com/staff/dan-obrien

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Tomboktu - February 28, 2017

Phoenix used to report from time to time on the funding of the IIEA by government departments and other public bodies. (I wonder did that stop with the crash.)

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dublinstreams - March 2, 2017

could a government not addresss these issue in Eueope seek to change them, but they don’t want to.

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3. dublinstreams - February 27, 2017

wbs did you read Leo’s recent Sindo column that I linked to previously? http://leovaradkar.ie/2017/02/choice-is-between-those-who-want-to-go-back-and-those-who-look-to-future/ and SImon’s Tv interview http://www.tv3.ie/3player/show/1040/120996/0/

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2017

Sorry, been off with chest infection last week or so and meant to get back to your earlier question. Two things strike me. First that they both see the need to strike a sort of vaguely ‘centrist’ approach – to appeal to Dublin voters, ex and current FFers? And secondly that there’s nothing terribly new here. I’ve no doubt that both are sincere, or as sincere as any politician – and Coveney is broadly right about social housing and mixed communities, but where it goes beyond rhetoric is a different matter. And even if on that issue it did go beyond rhetoric how is it all knitted together in relation to public health services, public education, etc, etc. The distance between FG and even social democracy is so wide… Coveney’s rhetoric ‘liberal social agenda’, ‘social justice’…

Here’s a story for you. My mother met someone who had wound up an FG candidate at a recent election. This person was looking for support from my mother which would be a big ask at the best of times, but my mother asked the person where they were canvassing. Only areas x y and z came back the response (i.e. broadly middle-class areas). Well, the person wasn’t going to get the mother’s vote anyhow but that said it all for my mother. And perhaps it says soemthing fundamental about FG.

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dublinstreams - February 28, 2017

it does go beyond rhetoric, hasn’t Coveney given council land to private builders to build mixed-ish housing rather then have the council do it.

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WorldbyStorm - February 28, 2017

But it still comes back to what the joined up approach is. It’s like acknowledging social rights but not economic ones. One can be an impeccable liberal in regard to the first, but have zero class consciousness. And then there’s the whole issue of ownership. For example, why not have the council do it full stop? Why get private builders in on the mix?

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4. dublinstreams - February 27, 2017

Listen to the latest Irish TImes podcast on this issue or read any of Pat Leahy’s recent columns on this issue and it seems as if they are saying that the departments are on strike because they get can’t their way 100% all of the time. https://soundcloud.com/irishtimes-politics/a-toxic-balance-of-power-between-ff-fg-prime-times-katie-hannon-on-a-year-of-new-politics

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5. sonofstan - February 27, 2017

The Irish World gets it right – a pic of himself looking gormless, a sub- head ‘as Uk prepares to divorce EU, FG and FF preoccupied with succession’ and the immortal headline: Enda Daze

http://www.theirishworld.com

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