Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar TD at the 2017 Fine Gael Autumn Think- In in Clonmel , County Tipperary this morning
At the Fine Gael think-in, Clonmel, County Tipperary
“This ambition to build the Republic of Opportunity is in many ways the modern iteration of the Just Society. It combines the best ideas from the right with the best ideas from the left. It is the politics of the new centre.
It is also the politics of progress and change. So, when we say the centre must hold, we do not mean that things should stay the same.
We mean that we will lead change not from the extremes but from the centre. Giving people, families and businesses the certainty with which they can plan for the future.
….Where we have scope in the budget, it will be used to reward work and enterprise, and will benefit those on middle incomes who pay the highest rates of tax on far too modest incomes.
We will back business, farmers and enterprise.
High taxes on the middle classes are a barrier to opportunity and to work. They are a cap on aspiration and there should be no cap on aspiration in the Republic we wish to build…”
“…You can tell a lot about a society by how it treats its most vulnerable. We have provided medical cards to all children with severe disability irrespective of their parents’ income, because we know they will need more regular access to health care, and parents shouldn’t have to worry about the costs.
And every working day, we provide housing for 80 individuals and families. There are 20,000 new tenancies a year because we believe everyone should have a home.
So when people mention style, I think of all that substance.
The Republic of Opportunity is not a slogan or empty PR. It is a way of thinking about how to improve people’s lives and we’re only getting started…”
“…Some political parties – especially those on the left – believe in a culture of dependency and victimhood. They like it when people are down and dependent. They want the system to fail so they can build influence and support.
Fine Gael will never talk down to people. We will always try to offer people a way up and way forward.
Committing to build a Republic of Opportunity means that we are proud of our ambition to create a culture of aspiration. Where people are encouraged to be the best they can possibly be. Encouraged to reach their potential and to make a better life for themselves and their children.
That is why I joined Fine Gael, and I’m sure why you did too.
For me, Fine Gael is not and has never been a party of privilege.
Census 2016 figures and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy
You may recall the Census 2016 figures which showed 183, 312 vacant houses in Ireland – excluding vacant holiday homes.
And yesterday’s figures showing 8,160 people were registered as homeless in the last week of July.
Further to this…
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke to journalists following the emergency housing summit in Custom House this morning.
While speaking to them, Mr Varadkar raised the subject of vacant houses.
“On the vacant house tax, that is something that’s under consideration but, again, a very interesting discussion with the Chief Executives today if you take for example Fingal or Galway where they’ve actually gone out to the individual houses to see how many are vacant while the CSO may say there’s a certain number and geocodes say there’s another number, when the council staff have actually gone out to the houses and apartments and knocked on doors, they’ve found that the numbers that are really vacant are actually much smaller than any of the figures show.”
From top: Leo Varadka at the Dublin Pride festival last month; Eamonn Kelly
After Enda Kenny became Taoiseach, the liberal left immediately launched into a social media campaign of ridicule and invective against him, using memes and comments and so on, and not holding back in the least in terms of insult.
In contrast, there has barely been a whisper of dissent against Varadkar.
It occurs to me that people may be afraid to criticise him for fear of their criticism being misconstrued as closet homophobia. (Either that or the liberal left are all for the right-wing Taoiseach).
I was accused of homophobia in a comment on one of the JobPath articles in Broadsheet. It took me a while to figure out where on Earth the person had drawn such a conclusion from, and I went over the text with the proverbial fine-tooth comb, but could find nothing incriminating.
Then I remembered that the Taoiseach was gay. I responded with something like, ‘Oh, I get it, the Taoiseach is gay, and I’m criticising him, so therefore…’
This response was then seized upon by a third party who said something like, ‘Thanks for reminding us of the Taoiseach’s sexuality. Makes me wonder what your agenda is…’
This is a classic lose-lose situation.
It seems that the election of a rabidly right-wing but forgiveably gay Taoiseach has had the effect of hoisting the liberal left by its own petard. I’m sure Fianna Fáil must be taking careful note of this puzzling turn of events.
A mathematician, an accountant and an public relations manager apply for the same job…
The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks “What do two plus two equal?” The mathematician replies “Four.” The interviewer asks “Four, exactly?” The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says “Yes, four, exactly.”
Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The accountant says “On average, four – give or take ten percent, but on average, four.”
Finally, the interviewer calls in the PR manager and poses the same question “What do two plus two equal?”
The PR manager gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says, “What do you want it to equal”?
When Leo Varadkar was Minister for Social Protection he said that there should not be refunds for those who paid water charges. He also added that those who did not pay should be pursued. Now, as Taoiseach, he wants us all to engage in collective memory loss as he rebrands himself into Santa Leo.
Santa Leo is promising Christmas bonuses to all the little good boys and girls. Refunds, that he said he wouldn’t do, are going to cost €170,000,000 and an estimated €10,000,000 to process it.
So that’s a €180,000,000 humiliation for Fine Gael that is to be spun as a Ho Ho Ho Christmas Holiday present of “three hundred odd euro back” per household.
Great news for those “two thirds of people” who obeyed the law and paid their Irish Water bills. Three hundred euro is not to be sniffed at.
Well played Leo, everyone will forget your previous guff about pursuing non-payers and you get to turn your democratic defeat into a political win. At least you would do, if you’re figures weren’t as unreliable as your proclamations. Just a cursory exploration of the facts exposes the flaws.
Firstly, Irish Water only took in €165,120,680 and not €170,000,000. Irish Water was responsible for 1,700,000 households, when applicable they billed 1,522,000 of these.
At their peak, Irish Water say 989,000 people were paying; that’s 58% of households and not the 66% claimed by government.
Even using this 989,000 figure is problematic; to refund this many households “three hundred odd euro” back would cost the exchequer €296,700,000.
There’s either a €126,700,000 hole in their sums, or they still aren’t telling the truth about how many people were paying and how much had been paid.
Taking the €300 refund amount to be true, then we can estimate that only 566,666 households paid up. That’s one third of the 1,700,000 households. A figure only slightly above the 30% figure claimed by that “lefty looney” Paul Murphy.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t really matter. After destroying the Labour Party and bringing Fine Gael to its knees Water Charges are dead. Not to mention the real crises of housing and hospital waiting lists; true emergencies that require immediate responses.
But that’s sort of the point.
A Taoiseach who quotes bogus stats on a dead issue like Water Charges is not credible when he quotes stats on new housing builds or hospital waiting lists.
A Taoiseach that has hired a separate office to manage his own Public Relations is a Taoiseach who needs more scrutiny than any to have ever held the office before.
Remember, this is a government that when they failed to meet their goal of patients not waiting over 24 hours in an A&E Department decided that, rather than redouble their efforts, they’d simply change the goal to say that patients over 75 would not be waiting over 24 hours.
This is the government that claimed there had been 15,000 new homes built in 2016, when the real figure was closer to 3,500. In Cork alone the government’s figure of 287 was a shameful 21.
This is why it Santa Leo and the €300 matters. A government that holds to data that is disproven cannot be expected to solve real crises. Flat earther economics is not going to build houses. PR soundbites won’t stop winter flu.
We know, looking around our dinner tables, that hospital waiting lists are rocketing towards 750,000. The people who get up early in the morning in homeless hubs know that 2 + 2 = 4. No amount of PR media spin is going to make it otherwise. Santa Claus is not real.
(BTW There’s a Inner City Helping Homeless, No Place to Sleep, Public Meeting on Wednesday the 16th of August, at 7:30. 72 Amien Street, Dublin 1.)
Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld