Irish Times lets Fine Gael off the hook big time in end-of-year love-in, er, I mean, podcast

THE ISSUE

The Irish political conversation is dominated by a narrative that insists the electorate’s only two options for government leadership are the so-called ‘Civil War’ parties.

THE MEDIA

Podcast by Irish Times – Inside Politics : ‘The Year In Politics’ on Tuesday, December 26, 2017

‘…people feel they can relate to these people more because they feel they have lived the same experiences they have…’

THE COMMENT

Over in the US, Donald Trump and his Republican-led government are constantly moaning and groaning under the weight of repeated challenging reporting from publications like the New York Times.  Too bad its Irish namesake doesn’t give our own recently-appointed political leader similar treatment, if this ‘end of year’ summary is anything to go by.

Essentially the all-male panel has given Leo Varadkar & co a free Party Political Podcast.  Wherever these are recorded, I pity the poor cleaning staff because they’ll have their work cut out removing all of Fine Gael’s 2017 political woes that have been swept under the carpet.

Apparently we are meant to have forgotten that this is the party that had to admit defeat on the water charges.  Well, when I say ‘admit’ defeat, I actually mean grudgingly concede it.

Apparently we are meant to have forgotten the fact that Varadkar rose to power under an electoral process within his party that was chronically tilted away from the grass roots members, meaning all he had to do was shmooze his way through his fellow TDs to get the nod.  This weighting method is very similar to that which saw Hillary Clinton controversially secure the 2016 Democratic nomination at the expense of Bernie Sanders.

Apparently we are meant to forget the homeless crisis still prevalent in the Republic, simply because the Taoiseach says so.

And apparently we are meant to forget the disgraceful whisteblower controversy which nearly sparked a Christmas election and ultimately cost the Tánaiste her job.

Nobody expects the mainstream media to completely ignore a government’s positives, but what this IT podcast has done is to summarize the Irish year in politics thusly…’Sure isn’t it great that our top cabinet members are all so young?‘ [paraphrase]

And as one of the leading bits of ‘evidence’ of the effects of having such youthful leadership, the ‘lads’ cite the Eighth Amendment debate.

Despite the fact that Fine Gael’s own Citizens Assembly recommends repeal and legislation, and despite the fact that the Oireachtas Committee recommends repeal and legislation, the government position at the time of this podcast was that a decision is yet to be made on how to proceed.  No guarantee has been forthcoming that a straight yes or no choice on repeal will be offered to the Irish public.

Yet somehow the panel twists this state of affairs into one that represents a sweeping generational change.  Well, for this conservative jurisdiction that may be true to an extent, but given that Fine Gael are the country’s most conservative mainstream party [just about ahead of Fianna Fáil], do we think these ‘young pretenders’ have reached their current positions by cultural revolution or because the elder statesmen ahead of them on the ladder gave them a helping hand along the way?

And the final insult for me from this podcast came when they made the most ludicrous segue from the potential impact of FG’s boy wonder on the Irish electorate to the ‘youthquake’ experienced in Britain’s general election campaign that brought Jeremy Corbyn extremely close to Number 10.  I had to switch it off after that so you’ll have to listen yourself to find out what they said after that.

Here’s to a 2018 where Ireland’s political establishment, both in Leinster House and the media, are called to account whenever they ignore at best, or put down at worst, progressive issues.  JLP

#IANWAE

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Interesting “alternative fact” in NY Times article on #MauriceMcCabe crisis

Last night we were treated to a classic example of the fantasy world in which our Irish national parliament exists.

There was a debate in the Dáil over a Sinn Fein motion of no confidence in the government, of which the highlight was a remarkable bit of attempted political chicanery by former minister under Bertie Ahern and current Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin.

Somehow he managed to (1) berate Sinn Féin for having brought the motion in the first place and (2) attack the government for their (admittedly shocking) handling of the Maurice McCabe situation, before his party proceeded to abstain from the vote altogether, effectively helping Kenny’s government survive.

Just in case you are a little bit behind the curve on what has happened with McCabe, the New York Times offers a brief refresher course with this article posted yesterday.  And as part of it, there is a glaring error that demands immediate correction.  Or IS IT an error?

Both Mr. Kenny’s party, Fine Gael, and its coalition partner, Fianna Fail, had little appetite for fresh elections that could unsettle their fragile government.

Earlier in the article, a sentence which would make Gerry Adams very happy…

There were heated exchanges between Mr. Kenny and Gerry Adams, the leader of the opposition Sinn Fein party.

Naturally the Civil War duopoly would object to this depiction, as last year they somehow managed to cobble together a government with sticky plaster in an attempt to keep Fianna Fail on the opposition benches at the expense of Adams & his posse.

I’m no fan of Sinn Féin, but I’m not so sure this article has gotten anything wrong.  It’s more like that kid in the story who points out the Emperor has no clothes.

First and foremost, the McCabe family, and anyone else brave enough to come forward and call out corruption among their superiors for that matter, deserves to have their shocking treatment dealt with fairly and publicly, not just for their sake, but also for anyone who might wish to do similar in the future.

Next there is the matter of Martin, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar – the three men best poised to bring down Enda Kenny.  If this government must stay in place going forward, it needs some semblence of stability, and statements from each of them are the only way to bring that.

By saying nothing, they are demonstrating that they don’t want to deal with what the Taoiseach has on his plate right now (this whistleblower crisis, #RepealThe8th and #Right2Water to name just three), thus showing themselves to be cowards.  JLP