Thursday, June 17, 2010

Enda Kenny nicknamed Stalin: Man of Steel

Today is the day. Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting (TDs, Senators & MEPs - 70 in total)kicks off at 11.30 with a one-item agenda: a vote of confidence in the leadership of Enda Kenny.

If Kenny wins today, even by a small margin, it will represent a remarkable feat of courage, endurance and real balls. What you want in a leader when the going gets tough.

Such a win will lift FG/Kenny in the polls because Kenny will have displayed fighting qualities the public, never mind the plotters, didn’t believe he possessed.

It will also help in silencing some of his critics in the media punditeriat who treat him with thinly veiled contempt face to face, and with unconcealed contempt when he’s not in studio.

And isn’t it interesting that even in an online members poll (2147 votes), the messiah Bruton is only narrowly ahead of Kenny but still couldn’t get 40% of the votes, despite the long-term weakness of Kenny.

I’m personally very unconvinced by Bruton as a charismatic leader who will connect with the public when exposed on a wider range of topics.
And I’m not alone in questioning his economic abilities. His original banking plan was an unworkable recipe for disaster and I'm not alone in that assessment. Even Karl Whelan and Brian Lucey agree. Luckily, the country didn't have Bruton at the wheel at that critical time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Richard Bruton pledges disloyalty to Fine Gael if Kenny wins

Tomorrow’s Fine Gael leadership meeting should begin with a public, individual commitment by all participants that all voters will accept the outcome and commit to putting their talents at the disposal of the party in the aftermath of the vote, whoever emerges as the leader.

To refuse to make this public commitment would amount to disloyalty to the party, not just to the party leader. In that circumstance, those refusing should resign the FG whip and sit as independents.

This is necessary because challenger Richard Bruton has publicly declared that he will refuse to serve Fine Gael in any front bench position if incumbent Enda Kenny wins the leadership contest tomorrow.

Bruton has said in a number of interviews that he will serve his constituents but will refuse to put his talents at the disposal of his party, despite a democratic leadership process having been undertaken.

This is clearly disloyalty to the party, not just to the party leader. If Bruton persists with this stance, he should resign the FG whip and sit as an independent.

Incidentally, Bruton said, on Vincent Browne’s programme the other night, that he would not serve in a Kenny-led front-bench, but he got all coy when VB asked would he refuse a ministerial position if offered one by Kenny after the next election.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Des O'Malley - "would start a row in an empty house"

Watching RTE’s “The PDs – From Boom To Bust” last night, I laughed when Charlie McCreevy said of Des O’Malley that, while he could be great craic, “he would start a row in an empty house”.

I was reminded of a story I heard a couple of years ago about an incident back in the 1970s when O’Malley was Minister for Justice. Hopefully it’s not an urban myth.

At the time Des was in the habit of paying a regular visit to his mother, who lived in the Sandycove/Dun Laoghaire area. After the visit he would drop into Fitzgerald’s pub in Sandycove for a drink, accompanied by two Special Branch bodyguards. Des would take a stool at the bar and the two bodyguards would sit at a table near the door.

Des would strike up a conversation with the locals at the bar and, in no time at all, would have an argument going. Sometimes he’d be running several different arguments simultaneously with a number of drinkers.

The night of O’Malley’s visit would coincide with the pub owner’s (Charlie Fitzgerald) night off and the young barman in charge didn’t know who O’Malley was.

After several weeks of this routine the young barman finally lost patience: “Look, every time you come in here you start a row. You’re upsetting my regulars. Finish your drink and get out, you’re barred!”

Of course, this started a new row with the barman as O’Malley strongly asserted his rights. The barman came around the counter, took Des by the scruff of the neck and frog-marched him to the door, past the two bodyguards who made no move to intervene, and out the door onto the street.

As the barman came back in, he passed the Special Branch men on their way out to rejoin their master. “Goodnight now” was all they said.

The following day Charlie Fitz was horrified (terrified) when one of his regulars, who had recognised O’Malley, told him what had happened, fearing perhaps that he’d be targeted by the gardai in reprisal. Thankfully, there were no repercussions.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Richard Bruton - a political jack-in-the-box

On Thursday night, when the results of the latest Irish Times/MRBI poll were known, Richard Bruton appeared on RTE’s Prime Time and TV3’s “Vincent Browne at the Palladium”.

On both programmes, he was invited to endorse Kenny's leadership and singularly failed to do so. Instead, he behaved like some shy teenager being teased about fancying some young one.

This wasn’t just a display of disloyalty, it was gross political stupidity.

Regardless of his feelings about Enda Kenny or his own desire to lead FG, he has to endorse the current leader in public, when specifically asked about it by the media.

Instead, what he has now done is to provide ammunition for the media and opposing political interests, including Labour, to focus on FGs problems and deflect attention away from

(a) the banking stew in which, rightly at last, Biffo finds himself and

(b) the populist vapidity of Labour's utterings on how to resolve the public finance deficit

Those TV performances were akin to Bruton shooting himself, and his party, in the foot.

In the loner term, Richard Bruton’s performance regarding the banking crisis has been pathetic. His original proposal, repeatedly revised in light of ongoing criticism, was complete nonsense. Even with the revisions, his proposals have been rubbished by two of his former party leaders, and no recognised expert has endorsed them.

In the past year, Bruton has transformed himself from serious commentator into a political jack-in-the-box joke, jumping up and down with every market movement, desperately trying to score populist political points, instead of maintaining his gravitas.

The last thing FG needs is a shrill new leader named Richard Bruton (or that tiresome whinger Lucinda Creighton).

What they do need is some cop on, more political bottle and a display of loyalty to their current leader. Otherwise, they will let both FF and Labour off the hook and lose even more market share.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Shane Ross - the dog that doesn't bark - at O'Reilly

Independent News & Media (IN&M) AGM was held yesterday and I knew there would be fireworks as the bold Senator Shane Ross castigated the board over the massive loss of shareholders investment in the past 3 years. The shares have fallen from a peak of €3.87 in June 2007 to a dismal €0.115 today – that’s a drop of 97%!

In terms of shareholder losses, IN&M has managed to outdo AIB & BOI – now that took some doing. So after the roasting Shane Ross gave the top table at AIB & BOI shareholder meetings, I knew the IN&M board was in for a torrid time.

Imagine my surprise when I watched the tv news last night and read the papers this morning. Not a word of ructions at the IN&M AGM – I wonder was Senator Ross even at the meeting?

Actually, this will come as no surprise to anyone who has watched Ross’s populist antics over the years. He’s fearless attacking Eircom, the banks, the toll on the M50 etc., but he’s never published or uttered a critical word about any of his employer’s business ventures, many of which have failed to sparkle. IN&M is only the latest dud – Waterford Wedgewood was a complete disaster, not least for the workers who lost not only their jobs but their pension entitlements too. Fitzwilton was a long-standing walking wounded until someone finally put it out of its public listing misery. Various ventures into oil and mining have also left investors nursing significant losses.

I look forward to seeing what’s in the Sunday Indo (Ross is the “business editor” – now that’s a laugh) about the performance of IN&M. Doubtless it will be glowing praise and optimism for the efforts of the board, now led by O’Reilly junior.

Time to reprise, again, my favourite Shane Ross joke:
Trinity College has outdone Ancient Rome because it's only a myth that Caligula made his horse a Roman Consul but it's a fact that Trinity College has made a senator out of a complete horse's arse.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Israel a pariah state, comparable with apartheid-era South Africa

It has always been legitimate for sea-farers to attempt to repel pirates with every means at their disposal. Responsibility for the Gaza convoy deaths rests entirely with the Israeli pirates, not with those attempting to repel the heavily armed boarders.

It is laughable for the Israelis to claim a justification of self-defence when they were the armed aggressors attacking an unarmed ship. If I break into your house armed with a gun and shoot you dead because you try to resist, a plea of “self-defence” just might get me a reduction from murder to manslaughter, but I’m certainly going to jail.

I look forward to seeing those involved in the authorisation, planning and execution of this criminal act brought before the international court on charges of piracy and murder. (I won’t be holding my breath)

In the meantime, we ordinary citizens can take our lead from the actions of the Dunnes Stores workers who, in 1984, showed us the appropriate response to a repressive regime which consistently shows two fingers to the international community with regard to human rights.

In terms of pariah status, Israel is now on a par with apartheid-era South Africa. The UN should dust down the old sanctions, no need to re-invent the wheel.

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