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Government formation: ‘Deal’ or no ‘deal’ April 28, 2016

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You take your pick…

The IT says it is pretty much a done ‘deal’.

Fianna Fáil may be willing to commit to allowing Fine Gael to introduce three budgets as part of a deal to put a minority government in place.
Advisers from the two parties met on Wednesday to put the finishing touches to a deal designed to allow a Fine Gael-led minority government take office next week.
Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin are expected to sign off on the agreement before it goes to the two parliamentary parties for final approval.

RTÉ is a lot more equivocal.

Talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on the formation of a minority government led by Enda Kenny are due to resume later today.

Party officials redrafted some documents overnight.

Both parliamentary parties yesterday considered the draft agreement on Irish Water agreed by negotiators on Tuesday.

Another former Minister writes… about water April 27, 2016

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Pat Rabbitte in the SBP argues that:

So it was all about water. Water and one-upmanship. Eight weeks of foot dragging and pious rhetoric about new politics. All designed to camouflage the real purpose. It has been a demonstration of the worst of the old politics. Political posturing pretending to offer a choice of minority governments, when in reality what has been going on is jockeying for advantage in preparation for the next election.

There may well be something in that. Though some will smile at the following:

The FG cave-in on Irish Water is a set-back for the party and the country. It is a snub to the LP which politically bore the brunt of the fallout from the original decision.

I’m sure that last was high in the reckoning of FG at this point in time.

What’s fascinating is that Rabbitte confuses political priorities with politics. Or attempts to make a distinction. So he argues that ‘nobody can rationally believe that water is remotely the biggest problem facing the country’ and goes on to praise Irish Water. But surely he realises that it is token of something much broader, the manner of government and the policies of the last two administration during the crisis.
That he cannot or will not see this is educative, is it not?

Again he seems like so many unable to countenance that Irish Water (or any future body) should be funded from taxation. As always I find this inexplicable. He writes;

Revenue raised from assets will be further diminished – by how much we don’t know. Therefore, other services badly in deed of increased investment since the financial crash will suffer.

And on he goes:

For 30 years the trade union movement led a campaign to broaden the tax base and ease the responsibility on the shoulders of ordinary workers and income taxpayers. Introduction of the pretty tax and a charge for water measures designed to broaden the tax base.

Interesting that, for there’s a contradiction there. If water charges were tax measures then why not have them placed on taxable income in a progressive (in both the technical and other sense) manner rather than having them as fixed charges that took no account of income. And how was this measure designed to ease the ‘responsibility’ on ordinary income taxpayers? He does not, cannot, explain that.

He writes:

The EU water directive makes plain that there must be a charge for water.

Ah, so that’s an answer of sorts. But again, why was there no effort even to bring in a modicum of progressivity into the equation?

Anyhow, he does seem to realise that water is merely an aspect of something larger:

The public protests are only partially to do with water. Water happened to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was seized on by the Trotskyist left who provoked SF involvement and latterly FF boarded the bandwagon.

But apart from confusing the involvement of various forces in a way that suggests his read of matters isn’t quite as correct as he seems to think, he also appears to not understand cause and effect and be blaming the “Trotskyist Left” and SF for actions his own government and its predecessor oversaw! That’s quite some trick.

But then one could alter his words and suggest that what he writes about is only partially to do with water. It is perhaps better seen as indicative of a view point from within the government, and the LP component in particular, that despite experience became so utterly detached from political reality in this state that it mistook certainty for correctness, lack of choice for virtue and resistance and dissent for vice.

Saothar 41 Launch & Lecture – May 12th 2016 April 27, 2016

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Saothar 41  invitation

A former Minister writes about… the EU April 27, 2016

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Michael McDowell, former Minister, apparently now a Senator, in the SBP asks a good question. He says that above and beyond Brexit there are different questions that Irish citizens should be asking. He writes:

The Republic badly needs a balanced debate on the future of the EU. Leaving the EU is not an option for Ireland in the foreseeable future, even if Britain opts for Brexit. But we have little or no real debate in this country about the kind of Europe we want the EU to become.

And he sets himself strongly against EU federalists. He also notes that:

If, as a recent poll commissioned by the IT suggests, the Irish people strongly support the right for Ireland to opt out of further EU integration, can we be content with a domestic political debate on the future of the EU from which the mainstream of Irish opinion, which wishes to remain in the EU but does not favour a federalist EU state – is excluded?

I find myself, unusually given former views on both him and the EU, tending towards his position. A federal EU is not, as the EU is constructed at this time and at this point, a welcome prospect. Further integration is largely unnecessary and would exacerbate the existing democratic deficits without remedying them. Exiting the EU is though a chimera, and something that is politically unsustainable as serious policy in this state. To present that to citizens will merely receive a rapid sharp response in the negative. But to argue that this far and no further without fundamental reform along left lines is not by contrast a bad position at all.

I suspect we will see a multi-stranded EU develop with an inner core which shifts slowly towards integration (though countervailing tendencies are already in evidence). Ireland, this state, is in an interesting position being both part of the eurozone but unlikely to follow that core. The pressures of the coming decades will be illuminating to watch.

Meanwhile, on McDowell himself, entertainingly the Phoenix picked up on something we noted the last two or three weeks, that he has been making veiled predictions about a new centre/centre right or ‘pop-up’ party that would ‘fill’ the space vacated by RENUA (and before them the PDs). The Phoenix suggests that he sees himself as leader of said formation, and that his bid to enter the Seanad is of a piece with this.

Perhaps so, though one has to wonder if the last leader of the PDs who also was in the Seanad found that particular location a blessing or a curse in relation to party building. I think the answer isn’t that difficult to work out.

Speaking of health inequality April 27, 2016

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John McManus in the IT today has a bleak piece asking ‘are we about to bail out the private hospitals’. Well worth a read for a sense of the thinking (or lack of same) in this state that has led to such pernicious outcomes as evidenced in the statistics showing the disparities for treatment times between public and private patients.

Over the last 20 years or more, a huge, privately-owned health infrastructure was built up in Ireland, with government encouragement. The main boost came via tax breaks, the most significant being income tax relief on private health insurance premiums.
Irish health spending is very close to the European average but, unlike most of our peers, one-third of it is channelled through the private healthcare system. The thinking behind all this – if there really was any – was that the private sector would deliver hospital care more efficiently and that better-off people could pay for it via health insurance rather than making everybody pay more tax. It was liberal market economics at its best or worst, depending on your perspective.

And now the private hospitals (which as McManus notes are commercial entity first and foremost whose purpose is ‘to make money’) are suggesting public- private initiatives ‘to help reduce waiting lists’:

…we seem to be heading back into something resembling bank bailout territory – the sort of place capitalists like to go when things go wrong. By signing up to a five-year deal to utilise the spare capacity of the private sector, the State will be protecting the private hospitals from the full consequences of their bad investment decisions and, in effect, bailing them out.

This is the other side of yesterday’s statistics where a system distorted from the off, putting financial aspects ahead of medical need, becomes ever more distorted and now attempts to feed of the distortions its very existence generates.

The Truth? April 27, 2016

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The Sun and The Times rightly getting criticised over their decision not to carry the Hillsborough verdict on page one. Compounded by squirrelling away the report (in the Sun) on pages 8 and 9. The Times later carried a photo on page one of relatives. Fairly remarkable given their lamentable history in relation to the matter from the off.

What you want to say – 27th April 2016 April 27, 2016

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As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

“1916: The fight in the docklands” – from EWHG April 26, 2016

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“1916: The fight in the docklands”

Thursday 28th April, 7.30pm at the Gibson Hotel, Point Village

This will be the most comprehensive account of local events ever told. On Easter Monday the British Military rushed to secure the North docks. Once they reached the area they quickly moved to cordon it off from the rest of the city. However, within the cordon a week of sustained sniper fire continued, British troops looted extensively and were responsible for a number of callous civilian deaths. Hundreds of residents were rounded up and interned in sheds and a church, and at one point the area was shelled from the Liffey. Come along and hear the full story – All welcome to this free event.

( We have also assembled a collage showing photos of many of the men and women from the North Docks who participated in the Rising. Currently features over sixty images. If you have any to contribute please contact us as soon as possible , as we hope to display this Thursday evening.)

See flyer attached and link to facebook event page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/221231144911860/

See also link to the 1916 section on our community website, which includes a number of articles of interest:

http://eastwallforall.ie/?cat=74

And a significant occasion for us,when on 8th May @ 2pm we will be hosting a celebration of the life & work of an often over looked figure of the revolutionary era – “Walter Carpenter: A revolutionary life” will include the unveiling (by his grandson Eamon) of a plaque on Caledon Road and also the launch of a new booklet written by his grand-daughter Ellen Galvin .

“Walter Carpenter: A revolutionary life”

Sunday 8th May @ 2pm

Assemble: The Sean O’Casey Community Centre, St Marys Road , East Wall.

We look forward to seeing you at some of these events and please share the details.

Thanks

East Wall History Group

Seanad News: Business as usual! April 26, 2016

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For results look here!

 

Okay, the results are coming in. A good day for SF. And the Green Party. And Independents, sort of kind of. NUI and TCD seats seem to be pushing towards the status quo ante largely.

And speaking of the status quo ante. How heartening to see the much talked of reform reaching all the way to the new Seanad cohort. Take, by way of example, the words of Senator Kieran O’Donnell (FG):

A former Limerick TD and member of the Oireachtas banking inquiry, Mr O’Donnell said he was delighted to be elected to the Seanad. He said after a “long, hard election I am happy to continue in full-time politics.
“My objective is to represent the people of Limerick and to regain my Dáil seat at the next election.”

That’s lack of change that’s all too easy to believe!

Is anyone surprised by Mullen and McDowell doing well in NUI? They’ve national name recognition (sort of kind of) and that’s the exposure that money cannot buy. TCD, with Norris seeming to top the poll and Bacik second likewise, though one might have thought the latter would have suffered the slings and arrows fired at her party, but perhaps the Seanad offered more cover than might be expected.

Anyhow, it’s farewell to Senator Jim D’Arcy, the hammer of the Shinners, a man for who no speech was complete without at least one slighting reference to Gerry Adams, SF or preferably both.

Here’s a thought, if Averil Power had simply toughed it out in FF across the last year or so, kept her concerns somewhat quieter, would she now be renominated to the Seanad by a reasonably grateful Micheál Martin? One can but wonder, though she remains in contention on the TCD panel.

Meanwhile, am I reading this wrong? Surely this is incorrect? SF had 3 Senators in the last Seanad:

Sinn Féin expects to have seven senators in the 25th Seanad when voting is completed this week on the five vocational panels of the Upper House – an increase of five seats.

European Convention on Human Rights. April 26, 2016

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Worth keeping in mind the ECHR sits apart from the EU institutions and structures.

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