Hat tip: Sgt Bilko
Beyond that, the country can’t stand Labour. Or its leader. Within the party, Eamon’s leadership is under threat from Joan Burton. Somehow, Joan has positioned herself as the protector of old Labour values, while attacking the unemployed and their lifestyle and slashing away at the social protections that we – in our work and our taxes – have already paid for.
As if Eamon hasn’t enough to worry about, last week he and his comrades got a kick in the teeth from the German SPD. The SPD is negotiating to go into coalition government with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. And they’ve been laying down conditions that involve this country.
No deal, they told Merkel, until you force the Irish political classes to stop mollycoddling big business. And, Angela – you know how the Irish politicians expect help with reducing the banking debts they’ve heaped on to their citizens? If you want the SPD to prop up your government, knock that on the head.
…In short, Eamon is being shafted by his comrades abroad, his comrades at home are waiting for the appropriate moment to slip a knife between his ribs and the Irish electorate look on him with the kind of distaste usually reserved for a genital rash.
(Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)
Environment Minister Phil Hogan and Mary Mitchell O Connor TD at the Fine Gael ‘think-in’ in the Heritage Hotel, Co Laois yesterday.
Average age anyone?
(Laura Hutton and Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)
The Labour leader denied the Seanad proposal represented a power grab but was rather part of a programme of political reforms. Cabinet had discussed broader reform proposals which would be published tomorrow and which could be discussed during the campaign.
Eamon Gilmore with Joan Burton, launching the Labour Party’s campaign to abolish the senate and create a court of appeal in the Merrion Hotel, Merrion Street, Dublin today..
(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)
Just a little defensive.
Sean O’Rourke: “The pattern is this, Tanaiste, if you go back to say, 1992, Labour campaigned on the basis of keeping Fianna Fail out. What do you do afterwards for reasons that are perfectly understandable, arguably, you put Fianna Fail back in. You weren’t in the labour party at the time, but again there was an expectation raised and the opposite was done. An expectation was raised at the last election about things like Child Benefit about things like Water Taxes, about things like that going up, or not going up and Third Level Fees not going up and so forth, and the opposite was done. And you’re paying the same price now, and you, personally are paying the same price as Dick Spring paid in the early 1990s?”
Eamon Gilmore: “Well, first of all I think that Government at the present time is in entirely different circumstances. There are people who now have the right to vote who weren’t even born then.”
O’Rourke: “Of course. but promises are promises, I mean people aren’t stupid, be ’92 or 2011 or 2013.”
Gilmore: “Let’s look at what we committed to do, let’s look at where we started out from when this Government was formed. This country was in the biggest… (economic down-turn)”
O’Rourke: “Yes, you made that point..”
Gilmore: “Yes, but it’s not just a case of me making a point…”
O’Rourke: “Actually, is it not the case when you went in and got the brief, it turned out to be far worse than you actually had thought was the case beforehand? I mean the IMF was in town, the Troika was here. I mean, what more did you need to know?”
Gilmore: “Yes, we did, and we went into government knowing that it was a very difficult period of time, that the country was in a crisis, that we had to bring the country out of that crisis. Because unless you bring the country out of crisis..”
O’Rourke: “And all your represented promises went awry?”
Gilmore: “Actually no, all our promises didn’t go, that’s one of those great generalisations. You know very well Sean, that the Labour Party, if you take it, right across the commitments that we made, whether it was.. – let’s take for example the commitment to put emphasis on employment, that was one of the promises that we made – we’re delivering on that. Let’s take the commitment that we would have reform on our Public Services and introduce constitutional convention, some of the Social Leglislation and so on – we have delivered on that.
Let’s take the promise that we would reform our Education system, Ruairi Quinn is delivering on that. Let’s take the promise that we would restore the National Minimum Wage – we have delivered on that. Let’s take the promise that we would protect the interest of working people, we have rstored the joint labour committees, we have ensured that there haven’t been any increases on taxes on people. Let’s look at the promise in relation to the way in which Public Service pay would be dealt with and you can take The Haddington Road Agreement – to ensure that people earning less than 65,000 Euros a year weren’t going to have their pay cut.
So, you know, when we talk about promises, let’s do it on-balance. Let me finish on this, I acknowledge… I acknowledge very clearly that yes there were promises of commitment that we made that have not been delivered, and we weren’t able to… (because we’re in a coalition).”
O’Rourke: “The Labour Party Conference is coming up in the Autumn, will you apologise there, for that failure?”
Gilmore: “I will report to my party conference and I will account to my party conference as Leader of the Party.”
(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)
From the author of Showtime.
Penguin Ireland writes:
They had promised a new politics. They would stand up to Europe (Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way), get the country working again (Fine Gael’s five-point plan), reverse the culture of favours and jobs for the boys, resist vested interests and protect the vulnerable. But the ink was hardly dry on a coalition deal when senior figures in both parties knew that not a word of their election rhetoric would be realised – the economic situation was worse than their direst imaginings.
This is the story of trying to govern a country on the verge of ruin – the favours, the deals, the policy compromises and previously unthinkable choices that had to be made. It is a gripping tale of high drama (and high dudgeon), of betrayal, backstabbing and disillusionment, of those who rose to the challenge and those who withered under the strain.
Pic via Pat Leahy
In a parallel universe all is grand.
She can’t stand by and watch her party help make this country more unequal.
Fianna Fail it is so.
(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)
Colm Keaveney, who has resigned as chair of the Labour Party,
It has become popular in recent times to talk of ‘hard decisions’. In my experience there are few decisions worth taking that are not reached without considerable difficulty. Politics is about decisions and taking them is just doing our job. Politics is equally about trust and convictions. It is the trust people place in us, and the courage of our convictions, that should enable us to make decisions.
I have been honoured to serve as Chair of the Labour Party. It is a role that was entrusted to me by the members who make up the organisation. I have always promised to question and debate decisions and to avoid the groupthink that destroyed our country.
I know in recent weeks many members may have been disappointed with my objections to certain provisions in the Protection of Life during Pregnancy bill. I apologise to anyone that feels that way but I hope that all can understand that my concerns are genuine. Labour is a pro-choice party and I never had a difficulty with that until it came to considering the recent legislation.
However, I believe it is right to question all legislation in order to ensure that what we deliver is just and workable. I hope that all can appreciate that my approach is honest and made with the best of intentions even if they disagree.
Economic issues and the creation of a just society were the reasons I joined the Labour Party and entered politics. These go to the core of my beliefs. While we can all agree and disagree on approaches or particular policies this should remain the central theme and aim of any Labour movement worthy of that name.
I have endeavoured at all times to listen to members views and to articulate their beliefs on such issues, sadly this has often meant that I must come into conflict with those who currently lead the party. I have found that the more I articulate the views of members, or try to facilitate a discussion of real Labour policy, I am seen as a problem, a difficulty, an inconvenience to those who believe they know more and understand more than the people they represent.
Unfortunately I can no longer go along with what is increasingly like a political charade. We promise one thing then do another and blame it on someone else. The members must accept what they are given and the leadership will tolerate no dissent.
It is now apparent that cuts to SNAs, resource hours and to the mobility allowance are not decisions taken in isolation to one another. They are a part of a consistent approach that this Government has taken, whereby those groups least able to defend themselves are targeted for decisive action, while powerful vested interests are left untouched.
The partial reverse of some of those cuts is welcome. However, this is no way to run a country – proposing cuts, distressing people and forcing them to engage in protest to secure the reversal of measures that should never have been decided on in the first place. Why not simply engage in consultation first and try to understand the issue rather than acting arrogantly in believing that you know best?
I have tried to seek change. My aim has always been to see the Labour Party hold true to the proud values on which it was established. I find, however, that I can no longer perform this task. The more I wish to represent even the most basic of Labour values the more alienated I become from those at the top. I am in no doubt that my presence is no longer welcome by them. A party cannot function on that basis. It is with a heavy heart that I am forced to reach the only decision I believe is honourable and resign as Chair of the Labour party and from the Labour party itself.
I entered politics to try and make a genuine difference. None of us expects to change the world but we do hope to have a positive impact. The only barometer we can have is if we retain the trust of those who elect us. Honesty is not a cheap commodity to be traded at the steps of government; it is something we should value. If anyone is to have self-respect and dignity then surely it is in being able to say that they stood by their beliefs and did what they thought was right.
I will continue to represent the people of my constituency and people from anywhere in this country on the same basis that they elected me. I will not breach the contract that they made with me just for the sake of staying in a position. Too many at the cabinet table are willing to trade what they held dear for one more hour in the sun.
Politics can change but only if we have the desire to make it happen. Politicians must be brave and must genuinely believe in something more than their own career. The people decide our fate and all we can do is be happy with our actions and be true to our beliefs. I will stand by the people and I will continue to question and lead when necessary until they decide otherwise.
Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Deirdre, my parents, family and friends for all their support throughout the years. No one can sustain themselves in a political career without the support and advice of those closest to them.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank all of those in Labour that I have worked and debated with during my time in the party. It has been rewarding and I have always been touched by the basic decency of the party’s grassroots membership and their commitment to improving our country and society. I wish them ever success and good fortune in their endeavours.
Colm Keaveney TD
(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)