Tag Archive for FIanna Fail

Why angry silence is the only way to commemorate 1916 Rising

1916 banner – presumably there was no room for Ian Paisley.

The banner at College Green has barely been unveiled, but it has already confirmed what I have long suspected.

That I do not want any part of of a commemoration of 1916 that denies, distorts and destroys what it is supposed to remember.

Only in Ireland could a banner commemorating a revolution feature a man who recruited for the enemy and called the event “wicked and insane”, as John Redmond did.

It comes as no surprise. For years the battle has been fought to see who would “own” the memory of 1916.

In then end, it seems, Bórd Fáilte won.

As a result, what we are getting is an approximation of history, a “1916 Rising for Dummies.”

The blood of the dead – men and women, soldiers and rebels, over 300 civilians and more than three dozen children –  washed from the streets.

The barbarity – war crimes on both sides – is forgotten, and the context crushed under the weight of collective denial of what the Rising was, and more importantly, what it wasn’t.

What should have been a conversation about the country we have created has been made into a marketing vehicle for tourism.

Anything else would have forced us to confront the truth of the intervening century.

For all the reverence in which the signatories of the Proclamation are held in Ireland, almost everything they stood for died along with them.

The notion of “cherishing all of the children of the nation equally” was quickly abandoned.

With the hospitals, the schools and the populace in general controlled by a vicious, venal and violent religious junta that is still remarkably healthy and wealthy, it couldn’t be any other way.

Partition – as promoted by what is now Fine Gael – put an end to the dream of a republic that would cover the entire Ireland.

And any chance of a functioning trade union movement to represent the working people died with James Connolly, strapped to a chair in the Stonebreaker’s Yard in Kilmainham Jail.

What we got was no mystical vision of independence, as laid out by Pearse.

Instead, we got exactly what most other countries that were eventually freed from imperialism experienced – a divided society ruled by an appointed elite, first as a transitional system of governance that then became the norm.

The greed and power of the church coupled with Ireland’s isolated position on the edge of Europe kept it out of the reach of international socialism and the kind of liberal social democracy that saw Scandinavia and Germany thrive, especially in the post-war period.

Instead, like many Catholic nations on the periphery of Europe, the Irish poor were condemned to lives of poverty, promised their reward in heaven while their cassocked moral guardians enjoyed the fruits of everyone else’s labours here on earth.

Having presided over misery and poverty, tugging its forelock and deferring to the church for much of the state’s existence, there is little on the credit side in the great ledger of social justice for any Irish government.

Pointing to the recent marriage equality referendum only highlights how little has been done to “cherish all the children of the nation equally.”

Women are still second-class citizens, earning less and dictated to by the state, or ignored when they become too noisy.

The Lads still rule, and their friends at the golf club still get the no-bid contracts and the cheap properties and the planning permissions they need to feather their nests.

Children with special needs and those who occupy hospital trolleys night after night don’t play golf.

The 1916 Rising delivered change, but not the change it wanted or expected.

Yeats was right – a terrible beauty was indeed born; and the poorer you were, the more terrible and the less beautiful it was.

And so to those struggling to “own” the narrative. the idiotic banner at College Green – with three of the four featured having died long before the Rising ever took place – is a symptom of how history in Ireland is distorted and watered down for political ends.

The irish Times reported that the idea for the banner came from the Department of An Taoiseach – perhaps unsurprising, given the spectacular ignorance of the clown that has inhabited that office for the last few years.

Enda Kenny has been doing his best to soft-soap voters into believing that his Fine Gael party are sympathetic to the Republic and the ideals declared by Padraig Pearse a hundred years ago.

Yet it was his party that banned the 60th anniversary celebrations – and using the Offences Against the State Act as the legislative framework to do so is surely the definition of GUBU.

Perhaps even more so than the endemically corrupt Fianna Fáil, Enda’s party is the party of The Lads. Those who have most get more, those who have least get nothing at all.

Labour will begin its struggle to make itself relevant again, oblivious to the fact that Connolly died for his principles, while they immediately abandoned theirs to give a few ageing men one last shot at a ministerial post, where they gleefully inflicted misery on the people who had voted for them, begging for protection.

Like its protagonists, the Rising was complicated, messy and not easily interpreted, but the history ever since is somewhat easier to read.

A hundred years on, Ireland has, on the whole, failed to live up to its promise.

Too often it has failed the poor and the weakest in society, often consciously and deliberately as politicians descended from those who filled the power vacuum by creating a system to benefit themselves and their cronies.

Forget our music and our food and our culture.

Forget the high esteem in which our people – not our politicians or bankers, not The Lads – are held around the world.

Forget our athletes and our artists and our innovators.

All this exists in spite of, not because of, the country we have created out of the ashes of the Rising.

We can celebrate all these things another day.

If you want to commemorate the Rising properly, do so by not accepting the Bórd Fáilte narrative.

The Rising belongs not to them, or the politicians, or The Lads and their vested interests.

It belongs to those who bear the heaviest burden form a political system that demands their servitude but denies their needs, just as it did in 1916.

So skip the official “celebrations” and stick instead to history and the original date of April 24.

Go to the GPO, or to any other post office that has yet to be closed by the march of “progress”.

Stand there in angry silence for a minute and remember what Pearse and the others promised, and how pathetically little their political descendants have delivered.

Then go off and, in the words of Gandhi, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

That means tearing down the system of clientelism and privilege, of recognising the dignity of each and every person, and of demanding the highest standards from everyone in public office.

It means accepting that we have to pay our share, and that taking “uncomfortable decisions” means that we too will be affected.

It means doing not what is best for ourselves, but what is just and noble and right, even if we personally lose out.

That would be a truly revolutionary act in modern Ireland.

 

 

Biggest failures in #GE16? Labour, FF, FG and journalism

What election were you watching?

The one I saw was the utter destruction of the status quo.

Incredibly, what a lot of my colleagues apparently saw was a resurgence of it, in the form of Fianna Fáil.

Who, incidentally, had their second-worst election on record.

I saw the outright rejection of the traditional right-wing (note – not centre-right) notion of “stability”of so-called Christian democrats as embodied by the singularly inept and staggeringly incompetent Enda Kenny.

I saw the annihilation of the Irish Labour Party, 100 years after its founder was tied to a chair and shot for his revolutionary tendencies, solely because it abandoned those people who begged it with their votes to protect them.

I saw an election where a motley crew of traitors and treacherous sleeveens record their second-worst election since 1927.

I saw the return of Lowry and two Healy-Raes in an indication that the parish pump of Irish politics is still in full flow in certain parts of the country.

I saw an election that saw Sinn Féin finally returned to the political mainstream after the horrors of the “Long War.”

I saw record numbers of small parties and independents returned as the establishment which has failed Ireland since the foundation of the state was sent packing.

And I saw a fourth estate in the form of the Irish media that couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

Throughout the count, journalists and broadcasters have struggled to understand virtually all the phenomena described above, instead choosing the easy angle of the Fianna Fáil “resurgence” – despite the fact that it has seldom in its history been as weak as it is now.

The paralysis is evidenced by the “experts” called to give their opinions – almost to a man (and occasional woman), they are part of the establishment they built, all while the media stroked their egos.

We had the laughable sight of snake-oil salesman Pat Rabbitte calling anyone who annoyed him “ultra-left” and making the staggering observation that Labour – who pissed in the faces of the poor that voted for them and assured them it was raining – is the “only Social Democratic party” in Ireland.

We’ve had Jody Corcoran, whose Sunday Independent newspaper were the big losers in the election as their private Renua party ran aground on its maiden voyage, now lionizing Micheál Martin – a man they have consistently attacked for five years, but who now holds the balance of power.

And we have the return of the odious Conor Lenihan, possibly the greatest spiv of them all – a man who, together with his inept brother and the rest of their cronies, ruined Ireland.

Not only did he contribute to destroying the country – when he was done, he took his state pensions and jumped ship to tout for foreign direct investment.

For Russia.

The problem of Irish political analysis by journalists was laid bare by the pleasantries exchanged – “congratulations on your election/commiserations on losing your seat.”

Whatever you think of them, your job as a political journalist is not to engage in niceties with people in power, or those who would aspire to have it – it is to ask intelligent pertinent questions on behalf of readers and listeners and viewers.

Time and again last night, bitter Fine Gael politicians contended that it was up to the opposition to take the reins of government.

This conveniently ignored the fact that, despite their abject failure, they would still have a considerable influence on how that government might look, especially if they swallowed their pride and joined Fianna Fáil.

Elsewhere, Labour’s increasing variety of failures all used the same three words as the headed to the gallows – “the national interest”.

Seldom were either of these two self-serving, petulant narratives questioned by the journalists interviewing them.

As I’ve stated elsewhere many times, bias is not always conscious; it is sometimes a function of class and privilege and position.

It is my sincere belief that too many journalists are bound to their desks recycling press releases,tweets and Youtube sound-bytes, and not out in the field actually talking to people and building their own understanding.

In truth, far too many of those in positions of power in Irish media and who are in turn tasked with holding those in power to account are too close to be able to do so properly.

A case in point – when Brian Cowen imitated Ryder Cup golfer Philip Walton and made fun of his speech impediment late one night in a bar, there were plenty of journalists present.

Not only did they not report it – they laughed along.

If, then, reporters are too close to those they should be holding to account, it is easy to understand why they absorb the narratives fed to them like crumbs from the top table.

It is easy to see how the establishment line becomes the truth as quickly as it does.

If Labour are the greatest failures, and Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are not far behind, we must be honest and say that journalism has also failed the democratic process in Ireland.

It is not an easy place to work, but the inability to either predict or explain the outcome illustrates the need for voices who go against the grain, who do not cosy up to the powerful, and who put no price on their ability to say what they see.

In short, what we need is more independent journalists, and less Independent journalists.

And until we get that, we will only be getting the part of the story the insiders and career politicians want us to hear.

Shock around the clock – but no change

The hoo-ha about the CRC payoff (and indeed Irish Water) is probably a welcome diversion for James Reilly and the government.

After all, it keeps the focus off the real source of the problem – that the Ireland we have created is designed for the benefit of a few while consistently failing the vast majority its citizens.

For all their talk about change, would Ireland really be that different if Fine Gael and Labour once again ceded power to the greedy spivs of Fianna Fáil?

The point is not that the CRC does great work. It is not that the CRC board are inept at best and downright devious in their dealings with the state at worst.

It’s not even about the fact that that the chairman of that board received a massive payoff when he finally stepped down.

The point is that, in a civil, developed, well-functioning democratic society, the CRC should not exist at all.

In a well-functioning, democratic society there would be a health service available to those who need it – in particular those who need it most.

In a well-functioning democratic society, those families and others who support them wouldn’t have to go out and beg for support, fundraising to ensure that the services which give their loved ones a better of quality of life are maintained, only to see their money pocketed by those who feel more entitled than the ostensibly less well-off.

In a well-functioning democracy, the staff and management would be well looked after by the state – and held accountable to it when things are not as they should be.

Instead, we have a professional class that sits on boards, claiming huge salaries for themselves while seeing children go without wheelchairs for months on end.

And then, when they’re found out, we have deals done for them to go quietly and prosperously into the night.

Not for a moment do I fault them, by the way – that they accept huge amounts of money for little or no work and at no risk to themselves is not their fault. It is the fault of those offering it. On your behalf.

The spoofing has already started, James Reilly intoning gravely that the government “will use all available options open to it, including corporate enforcement, the gardaí and civil courts” to get the CRC payoff money back.

The truth? That money is gone. That payoff was mandated in a legally-binding contract, and it had to happen. No amount of Reilly’s spoofing will change that fact. The money is gone, and it’s not coming back.

It’s just another milestone in a long litany of failures that seem to be occurring more and more regularly in recent years.

Almost since the foundation of the state, Ireland has abdicated its responsibility to its citizens.

It abandoned the health and education sectors to the clutches of the Catholic church, which indoctrinated its misery into the country’s youth for generations, physically and sexually abusing them with impunity, and then sullenly refusing to make restitution when they were eventually found out.

And now, with the church thankfully on the slippery slope to terminal irrelevance, Ireland has instead embraced capitalism as its new savior, outsourcing everything except the accountability for services, which remains curiously unassigned.

Ireland has become the perfect example of what Naomi Klein described in the Shock Doctrine – a society sacrificed on the altar of the most savage kind of capitalism.

(Anyone considering refuting that might want to have a look at where the €50 million on “consultant’s fees” for Irish water went before calming down.)

But the state is a product of its democracy, and the real blame lies with those who continue to elect fools and gombeens to government, regardless of their ineptitude.

The reason Ireland is a failure as a state is not because of the bankers or the fat cats or the spiv politicians.

It’s because, when confronted with injustice on a staggering scale, voters take one look out the window and rather than revolt, they call Joe Duffy instead.

There’s a bit of Twitter outrage, the odd headline in the papers, and then … nothing.

Nothing changes. Nothing happens. The kleptomania carries on, and the Irish people just watch as their money is pissed away on them.

The barricades remain unbuilt and unmanned.

The failure continues.

If Martin had info and didn’t act, he too has covered up abuse

Whatever Micheál Martin is accusing Gerry Adams and the Republican movement of, it seems he is equally guilty.

Leave aside the utterly despicable tactic of using a child abuse conviction and sentence against Adams’ brother for political gain.

This after all is Fianna Fail, a party with nothing but contempt for the plain people of Ireland, including the victims of sexual abuse.

Martin’s utterances are very carefully-worded, but no less damning for that.

He claims to have information that “Republicans” have covered up cases of child abuse.

And if he – the leader of a party that still inexplicably calls itself “Republican” – had that information and didn’t act on it, then he is guilty of whatever it is he is accusing the Republican movement (by which he means Sinn Fein, and not his party, which ruined the country) of.

There is a delicious irony in the quote reported by Fionnán Sheehan of the Irish Independent, who reported that Martin apparently said:

This may have been a broader trend within the Republican movement.

Fianna Fáil calls itself “the Republican Party” – is it also to be considered a party of paedophiles, thanks to this crude smear by its own leader?

Maybe so – because if Martin had evidence of a cover-up of child abuse, should he not have talked to the Gardai, rather than the Fianna Fail press office?

This is where his story begins to come apart.

After all, Fianna Fail supported the children’s referendum, the passing of which will lead to the rights of children being written into the Irish constitution.

One of the expected pieces of legislation is to make the reporting of child abuse mandatory – something which Martin, despite claiming to have evidence – hasn’t done.

So why hasn’t Martin reported this cover-up?

There are many possible reasons, but the most likely is that there is no cover-up.

Martin has no evidence of a cover-up of child abuse by Republicans because there isn’t any – this “cover-up” is a hasty and ill-thought-out political construct executed to stop the haemorrhaging of voters from Fianna Fail to Sinn Fein.

The problem for Fianna Fail is that fewer and fewer voters remember when Sinn Fein were inextricably linked to terrorism, and nor can they remember when Fianna Fail were actually Republicans.

What they do remember is the fact that a succession of Fianna Fail spivs destroyed the country and surrendered its economic sovreignty, before being destroyed in a general election which many of their sitting TDs didn’t even bother to contest, such was the guarantee of humiliation.

They have slowly been allowed to rehabilitate themselves, mostly thanks to the fact that the Labour party have taken over their mantle of the party that changes its policies with the winds, and will say and do anything to cling to power.

But the big thorn in their side – and indeed that of everyone else – is Sinn Fein.

Disaffected voters, sickened by the hardship foisted on children, the sick and the elderly by a succession of austerity budgets initiated by Fianna Fail, are flocking in their droves to them.

Abandoned by the Labour Party and ignored by the rest, Sinn Fein is the only party that they feel speaks for them.

Are Fianna Fail worried? You bet they are, and at every turn, the established parties seek to drag up the past.

Jean McConville´s name is regularly shouted across the Dail chamber, always out of context, always by someone out of ideas.

I am no fan of Gerry Adams. His ridiculous insistence that he has never been a member of the IRA is as laughable as it is counter-productive. He has been party to despicable acts and he hasn´t always told the truth about them.

And if senior Republicans like Brendan Hughes – a man whose searing honesty about his own involvement in violence has taught us more than many would care to know about both the armed struggle and Northern Ireland in general – says Adams was a leading figure in the IRA, then I believe him.

But like him or not, Adams has taken political and personal risks to deliver a sort of peace in Ireland.

Micheal Martin, on the other hand, has played an integral part in the destruction of the Irish health service, and eventually the country itself.

He has never shown remorse, never apologised properly for his part in destroying the future of generations of Irish children to come.

And now he has either sat on his hands despite being aware of a child abuse cover-up, or he has fabricated the whole thing to exploit the pain of the family of a political opponent for personal gain.

Neither of those is the behaviour of a statesman. But both are unfortunately par for the course for a Fianna Fail politician.

Micheal Martin, like his party, is a stain on the Irish republic, and needs to be dispensed with if Ireland is ever to recover a semblance of what passes for democracy.

Delendum est.

Toblerones and cojones

Danger: May ruin your political career.

As a new year of political guff and spoofery dawns, we should forget Swedish-style taxes or childcare – what Ireland really needs is Swedish-style politicians.

2012 in Irish politics began as Ivor Callelly was arrested over false mobile phone receipts. As it went on Mick Wallace was found to have welched on VAT payments, and the name of Michael Lowry was never too far from the headlines.

All of these incidents were just the cherries on the usual rancid pile of lies offered up by Irish politicians throughout the year, with the avid kite-flyers of the government almost better by the opposition spivs that bankrupted the country and now crow about it.

Every time some sharp-suited spiv is spotted with his hand in the government expenses cookie jar, I’m reminded of what is quaintly known as “the Toblerone Affair” here in Sweden.

Mona Sahlin – the prime minister that never was.

Back in 1995 Mona Sahlin was the star of Sweden’s Social Democrats – vice prime minister at the time, she was widely tipped to replace Ingvar Carlsson as party leader and become the first female leader of the Scandinavian nation.

But then newspaper Expressen reported that she had used a government-issued bank card to pay around €6000 worth of private expenses – among them two Toblerones, which gave the scandal its name.

Many expenses, such as restaurant visits, had to be paid for in cash at that time, and money to cover them was taken out at an ATM.

In practice, whatever was left over was essentially an advance on the next salary payment.

Sahlin’s problem was twofold; firstly, use of the card for private expenses was strictly prohibited.

Secondly, a bit of journalistic digging showed that she was generally careless with her personal finances, with a slew of unpaid parking fines and under-the-table payments to childcare workers being two incidents that stuck out.

The judgement of the court of public opinion was as swift as it was merciless. On October 14 1995 newspaper Göteborgsposten published an opinion poll in which 66% of the respondents said that Sahlin was unfit to lead the country.

Two days later Sahlin took a “time-out”, removing herself from the race to succeed Carlsson and thus become prime minister.

On October 16 a criminal investigation began. Sahlin dind’t wait around for the outcome – on November 10 she resigned, her career in ruins.

In January 1996 the investigation was closed as no crime could be detected, and Sahlin eventually paid back all monies owed, plus around €1800 extra, but by then it didn’t matter.

The Swedish people demand standards in public office, and Mona Sahlin had not met those standards.

The story doesn’t end there; for the next ten years, Sahlin wandered the political wilderness before finally getting her chance to lead the party following the loss of the 2006 general election and Göran Persson’s subsequent resignation as party leader.

But her dream of being Sweden’s first female prime minister was to remain unrealised.

The electorate in Sweden neither forgives nor forgets in a hurry, and Sahlin and the Social Democrats were narrowly defeated in the 2010.

I covered the election night for a major news agency, and many in her party suggested that, with a different leader, the centre-left coalition would have won the election – but many swing voters felt they couldn’t get behind Sahlin because of her Toblerones.

To Sweden’s credit, from the moment Sahlin’s creative cashflow solution was unveiled, her fate was sealed. This is less certain in Ireland, where the likes of Seán Quinn and Michael Lowry are often regarded as local heroes, rather than greedy spivs.

Fianna Fáil showed signs of learning the lessons of the likes of Sahlin at the last election – faced with a country full of voters that would never elect many of them again, most chickened out and didn’t contest the election.

The chickening-out of Fianna Fáil represents the green shoots of Irish democracy. It shows that we can and will tell politicians when they have done wrong, and that we will not elect them again if they do so.

It’s time to show some cojones raise the bar in public life considerably – no more fraud, no more lies, no more deliberately misleading the public.

Having been put into €78 billion of debt without our say-so, the least the people that put us there can do is be straight with us – and not steal any more from us.

It may take time, but less Toblerones and higher standards shouldn’t unduly hurt our elected representatives.

 

All about the optics at Fianna Fail Redux

"I didn't do it. Nobody saw me do it. you can't prove anything."

“There is no other Troy/For me to burn”, sang a young, angry Sinéad O’Connor back in the day.

If she’d been watching the born-again fervour at the RDS last night, where Fianna Fáil were attempting to once again smear a little lipstick on the pig of their failed politics, she would have found one.

Robert Troy blew hard in the trumpet, and then he was there – the man who apparently only arrived in Ireland a year ago, and had nothing to do with its ruination – Micheál Martin.

No doubt Martin believes he spoke bravely as he forked his tongue around an apology that was – in contrast to RTE’s reporting – anything other than unequivocal.

In fact, the apology started with equivocation:

It’s not enough to point to the worst world recession in 80 years and the Eurozone crisis.  Nor to point to the fact that other parties were demanding policies which would have made things worse.

It’s worth pointing out that Ireland’s troubles are not a result of the Eurozone crisis- we are in fact the cause of a great deal of it. And for that, the blame lies one thousand percent with Martin and the rest of his Fianna Fáil spivs, who were – lest we forget – in power at the time.

He continues to perpetuate one of Bertie’s many, many lies. Nothing has changed.

But for all his bluster, his attempt to regain the high ground of Republicanism from Sinn Féin was probably the most laughable – here was the party that sold this country down the river, throwing away our hard-won sovreignty, claiming to be Republicans?

If Tony McCoy’s undercarriage is ever damaged beyond repair, he can transplant Martin’s neck as fine replacement.

But if the laughter in a million living rooms wasn’t enough, the optics were the most damning.

Every time Martin spoke of pride and achievement and of a new kind of politics, the camera panned to the Soldiers of Destiny who were the architects of our national downfall – Cowen, Coughlan, Lenihan and the spineless goons that kept them in power, not to mention Martin himself.

Not only that- the party faithful actually applauded them. It would appear the party faithful are also at least partly mad.

As the recent interview with the despicable Mary Hanafin has proved, nothing in Fianna Fail has changed – not their policies, not their leadership, not their sense that they did nothing wrong.

This crisis is something that just happened to them. They consider themselves to be desperately unlucky, rather than grossly inept and fantastically corrupt.

What they should have done was to go around to the other side of the RDS, where a careers fair was taking place.

There, they would have met the thousands desperate for a better future – any future – now forced to leave the country because of the catastrophic greed and failure of Fianna Fáil.

There, they could have prostrated themselves before those who are the true victims of this crisis- not themselves, as they would have you believe.

And there, they could have given the greatest apology of all, which would be to close down their corrupt, cancerous party and start anew.

That would have been an apology worth making.

Why Hanafin’s hubris should herald the end for Fianna Fáil

Mary Hanafin waves goodbye to Leinster House.

There is, as we say, a narrative.

It’s not hard to work out.

Sure, Fianna Fáil were to blame- but the blame was not theirs alone.

It was Lehmann’s, and the Greeks, and the banks, and anyone else you care to mention.

We all partied- remember that?

Mary Hanafin went on Marian Finucane’s show this morning and gave what can only be described as a a car crash of an interview.

It was filled with the kind of arrogance and ignorance that – in a functioning democracy – should ensure the death of Fianna Fáil and all they stand for.

She is not alone in adopting this narcissistic narrative; ever since the departure of Brian “Tweedle Dumbest” Cowen, the story has been the same, led by the cringeworthy videos of Mícheál Martin strolling around his native Cork, oblivious to the misery he had wrought upon it.

It’s worth pointing out to Mary and the rest that it was nothing to do with the banks, or Lehmann’s, or the Greeks- the blame for the country’s economic destitution lies wholly and solely with Fianna Fáil. As the biggest party in government during the boom, they had responsibility to manage it. They failed utterly.

The Greeks don’t blame the Americans, or the banks, or Lehmann brothers. They know they massaged the figures to get into the euro – if any bank bears any responsibility, it is Goldman Sachs, who dealt the cards for the three-card trick that fooled the rest of the world into thinking they were solvent.

But Mary does. What she doesn’t do is explain what the Americans or Lehmann’s had to do with runaway lending, an unrestrained construction industry, rampant rises in public spending and reckless endangerment of the country’s finances.

When asked a hypothetical question about whether the big Don, Bertie Aherne, should be thrown out of the party should Mahon find that he acted inappropriately, she held the party line- “let’s wait for that decision”.

Even on the deck of the Titanic, she cannot bring herself to point out the iceberg.

It is, of course, the party line, and as Labour’s quislings have shown since their rise to power and subsequent similar betrayal of the Irish working class, the party comes before everything.

Psychopaths are usually defined by a number of characteristics, often to do with amorality and criminality.

Key among them are an absence of remorse or empathy – given their inability to apologise to the people of this country for destroying it, it is not unreasonable to suggest that Fianna Fáil is a psychopathic party.

They destroyed the country. And they in turn should be destroyed. They should never darken the door of Dáil Eireann again.

Towards the end, Hanafin even had the gall to suggest that she is not done with politics.

I hope to god the Irish people will show her that politics is done with her.

Let that be our new beginning.

Steady as she blows

Noonan- no time for aggressive rhetoric

The Christmas holidays came to an abrupt end this week, as the fairy lights and aroma of pine needles was replaced once again with the daily diet of austerity and bailouts.

And having spent a few weeks reading “year-in-review” pieces, we need to change our focus as readers once again.

So when a Citibank economist says we need to prepare for a second bailout, or when Michael Noonan says such talk is a ‘ludicrous’ notion, we need to realise that they are not talking to us.

There is are whole swathes of diplomatic and economic statements that, whilst made in public for all the world to hear, are actually directed at a very narrow audience.

The Citi economist’s note is one such message.

In expressing concern for Ireland’s financial state, Citi is (by accident or design) protecting its own interests.

Having a second bailout in place just in case may not just be good for the Irish economy; it might protect Citi from another wave of write-downs. It’s an understandable maneuver from a company trying to cover its own back.

What is unusual is Noonan’s bullish response. Citi’s feint gave him the opportunity to appear sanguine, to calm the markets by saying that the Irish program was on track and that the government would continue to behave responsibly, and if in the unlikely event that a second bailout was needed, it would be handled in an orderly fashion.

Instead, Noonan went on the attack – head buried firmly in the sand, the muffled word “ludicous” could be heard emanating from him, swiftly followed by “fully funded until 2013″. The nation shivered.

Both have made mistakes - Citi were in some ways unwise to put their head above the parapet, and Noonan was unwise to take the bait.

But whereas Citi are well within their writes to release such a note, Noonan has a greater responsibility.

In times of crisis, the markets resemble nothing more than a confidence trick; in deciding to take the path of denial travelled by the previous imbecellic Fianna Fail administrations, Noonan has essentially told them nothing has changed.

And unless our rhetoric changes, our interest rates will remain over 8% as the markest are saying they don’t trust our politicians to sort this mess out.

And neither should we.

‘Cheque mate’ proves silence is golden

Even if it doesn’t come from Michael D’s corner, there will be at least one more major twist in this election yet.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was around McGuinness, as too many powerful people cannot abide the thought of him representing them.

But as long as Michael D keeps on the straight and narrow, the prize will be his.

- ourmaninstockholm, October 4

So it came to pass.

Sean Gallagher- what now?

Seán Gallagher almost pulled off the impossible, blazing out of the pack only to fall at the final hurdle in what has been one of the most remarkable presidential races in history.

I heard his close friend and PR aide Jack Murray on the radio today saying that Gallagher’s biggest strength – the fact that he wasn’t a politician – turned out to be his biggest weakness too.

There is an immense amount of truth in what Jack says, but maybe not in the way he meant it.

Murray means that a more seasoned operator – a Gay Mitchell for instance- would have met McGuinness’s attack head on. As soon as McGuinness mentioned the cheque, Gallagher should have countered with a quip about fundraising or NorthernBank or whatever else would shift the spotlight.

I have been a student of Jack’s when it comes to media and PR and he is the best in the business. Gallagher’s polished media performances were a testament to his great skill and attention to detail in preparing his client.

But I am of the opinion that both he and Gallagher took their eye off the ball a little and left the door open for McGuinness.

Gallagher’s weaknesses were twofold – his FF past and his business dealings.

He seems to have made forensic efforts to ensure that his business dealings were all either above board or corrected and in truth there was little in them.

His distancing himself from Fianna Fáil wasn’t nearly as effective. Time may heal all wounds, but the public still remembers what Dev’s party did to them. Gallagher shrewdly left the party and cooled off before declaring himself as a candidate, but it wasn’t enough.

As ever in politics, there is no black and white, and Gallagher obviously didn’t feel comfortable condemning the party for its astounding stupidity in destroying the country. Instead, he tried to give the impression that he was a lot further removed from it than he actually was.

Bad move. When McGuinness placed him at the scene of the cheque on the Frontline debate, all of a sudden Gallagher was stuck, and the reasonably innocent business transactions started to look like the underhand actions of a Fianna Fáil bagman. Once that happened, it was all over.

Michael D- you'd be smiling too.

And there, waiting in the wings, was Michael D.

Ireland’s ninth president ran a campaign of almost total silence- no hype, no grand visions, his closet forensically cleansed of skeletons.

Instead, he let others do the dirty work for  him.

McGuinness delivered the hammer blow on Gallagher, Norris twisted the knife (‘I think the mention of envelopes was unfortunate’) and Davis called for him to explain himself.

By midnight Monday, the dragon was slain.

All the while, Michael D stood there looking presidential, his poet’s trap firmly shut- throughout Gallagher’s spectacular rise and fall, he said nothing.

As quickly as Gallagher rose, he fell again. Michael D was back at the top of the pile. Order was restored.

Gallagher is by no means finished in public life, but even his renowned confidence and positivity will have taken a battering.

He may not have won this race, but with the lessons learned here, don’t rule him out winning the next one.

Et tu Mary? Then fall, Seanie

One of these men has some serious skeletons in his closet. The other is Martin McGuinness.

I’d like to think that one of the reasons that people like reading this blog is the fact that I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong.

And boy, was I wrong about the Frontline presidential debate on RTE.

Perhaps I was suffering election fatigue when I sat down to watch it, but I think I can be forgiven for saying that I was expecting the same non-answers to the same irrelevant questions.

What followed, of course, was two hours of the most gripping television in the history of Irish broadcasting as Gallagher stumbled badly on the home straight, and, sensing weakness, Michael D moved to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

In the bitterst of ironies, it was Martin McGuinness- no stranger to a bit of cavalier fund-raising himself – who held the smoking gun.

He had spoken to someone who had handed over a cheque for Fianna Fáil to the value of five thousand euro to Seán Gallagher, in return for his dinner and a picture with Brian Cowen.

Never has something that sounds so unappealing cost so much.

It cost the donor five grand.

It may have cost Gallagher the presidency.

The rest of the candidates, who until that point had failed to find a foothold on the Mount Rushmore-like face of Gallagher’s entrepreneurial stoicism, gleefully queued up to twist the knife.

Even Mary Davis – the candidate most likely to be accused of kicking a man whilst he’s down – got her digs in and has called on Gallagher to come clean or suffer the wrath of the people.

She has done little in this campaign, but this late intervention may just turn the tide.

In another bitter irony, Gallagher’s problem is very similar to that of his prime adversary McGuinness.

Both have shady political pasts that they would wish to forget, or at least cast in a totally different light to what anyone else remembers.

Neither can afford the luxury of condemning their supporters in the shadows (McGuinness in the IRA, Gallagher’s in FF).

Gallagher’s problem, like McGuinness, is that when he denies his past, he loses all credibility. Instead of prostating himself before the electorate and begging their forgiveness, he left himself open to being caught out.

Gallagher could have been the first of the new FF breed, accepting both his own past and the wrongs of the Galway tent but promising to usher in a new era of politics.

Instead, he chose to minimise his part in FF, thus creating a hostage to fortune that, in the media climate of this campaign, wasn’t likely to stay chained to a radiator for long.

Like the banks of the Dodder, the floodgates have finally opened, and a much more damaging allegation is that he took payments form GAA clubs to secure funding.

As most people know, the GAA is an amateur organisation kept running by the efforts of hundreds of thousands of volunteers, none of whom will be too enamoured at this prospect.

Add to this his seemingly odd (but seemingly legitimate) business transactions and we are witnessing a death by a thousand cuts.

I have written several times over the last few weeks that there was one major twist left in this race, but I don’t think that anyone in their wildest dreams could have imagined it would be a game-changer like this one. Not even Michael D.

At 1400 Irish time tomorrow the utterly ludicrous broadcast ban kicks in and the public pronouncements of the candidates will be effectively finished.

That means Gallagher has about 16 hours to save his campaign track or risk becoming the second candidate to throw this election away despite seemingly having it in the bag.

I have no doubt about the brilliance of his backroom team (some of them trained me in public relations) – the question is whether they can save him in time.

Watch this space.