Applause For Thought

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From top: Party leaders at RTÉ’s Leaders’ Debate last night; Richard Boyd Barrett and Stephen Donnelly

Last night RTÉ’s Leaders’ Debate took place in University of Limerick with Richard Boyd Barrett, of People Before Profit; Gerry Adams, of Sinn Féin; Micheal Martin, of Fianna Fáil; Enda Kenny, of Fine Gael; Joan Burton, of Labour; Stephen Donnelly, of Social Democrats; and Lucinda Creighton, of Renua Ireland.

Topics that weren’t discussed included abortion, repealing the 8th amendment, funding for mental health services, Ireland’s suicide rate and school patronage.

Instead, the questions – from the audience – were about election promises, business and employment in rural communities, Ireland’s ailing health system, homelessness, rural crime and civil war politics.

So who won the most plaudits?

Grab a tay…

On election promises

Micheal Martin: “They’re [Fine Gael] are the only party here proposing a €10billion package, we don’t even have €10billion. Even the Department of Finance are saying it’s about €8.6bn, so they’re spending every penny that they have available and they’re spending every penny that they hope to have available. And can I just say one thing to Gerry Adams. Gerry’s questions are integrity or whether I can keep a promise or not. Gerry’s been denying for 30 years if he’s ever been a member of the IRA and he expects people to believe him and your economic policies…”

Applause

Gerry Adams: “Michael, go to An Garda Siochana, you’ve been going around the country making these accusations, go with your information to An Garda Siochana.”

Micheal Martin: “There’s not a guard in the country who believes you weren’t…”

Applause

Gerry Adams: “Your lot created the economic collapse, your government, nobody else, excuse me, let me finish my point, now you can tell us all you want about the IRA or my associations with it, will I help anybody who’s homeless tonight, will I help any child who’s hungry tonight, will I help the emigrants who from all over this island are scattered throughout the globe because of your policies?…There are children are trollies, there are elderly people on trollies, it’s a centenary years of 19 and 16 and we can’t even take care of our poor.”

Applause

On business and employment in rural areas

Claire Byrne: “Richard Boyd Barrett, the Taoiseach, you’ve got to give it to him, the people are coming back.”

Richard Boyd Barrett: “Well, look, first of all, we welcome any job wherever it is, as long as it’s properly paid and we don’t welcome these pretend jobs or exploitative jobs where people who are getting a few quid on top of their dole when they should be getting paid properly in JobBridge [Applause]. We think it’s completely unacceptable that new entrant nurses or new entrant teachers, for doing the same job, are getting paid less, just because they happen to be a bit younger – that’s is outrageous [Applause]. And and the fact that USI say 95% of student nurses are planning to leave the country because they think the pay is so miserable and the situation in the public health service is so awful [Applause]. So if I can just Claire make the point, briefly, of course the private sector creates some jobs and we welcome all of those jobs and we certainly need to give assistance to small and medium enterprise by having a more progressive break system which gives a break to small enterprise and gives the big guys, the big chains, the big multinationals pay a little bit more in tax and rates so that we can actually help the small business in the town centres and in the rural areas. But it is critical to say that if the public sector does not create jobs in the area of infrastructure, in the area of health, in the area of housing, in the area of education, our young people will not come back here and we will not have the young educated people [Applause].

Claire Byrne: “Stephen Donnelly, thank you, go ahead..”

Stephen Donnelly: “Can we debunk a myth here. This faux outrage for our doctors and nurses and teachers and guards. Let’s just debunk a myth here. The establishment is telling you that they’re going to take €4bilion to €5billion out of the revenue base [by abolishing USC]. The really smart economists that we hire to tell us how much money we’re going to have say we’ll have €3billion. So we have faux outrage from an establishment that is telling you that they’re going to cut the revenue base so much, that there won’t be a penny to equalise wages for new entrants which should happen. There won’t be a penny to create a modern healthcare system. And John [member of audience] back to your question on business, there won’t be a penny to back Ireland’s businesses because that’s what we have to do. Of course the public sector plays a part. The IDA is one of the most successful organisations of its type in the world but we have to be just as ambitious for Ireland’s businesses as we are for the multinationals. Right now, we’re not. You asked Claire, talk to anyone who’s hired 50/60 people in the last five years and say, ‘how many ministers have come and seen ya?’ and, if they’re an Irish business, they’ll say, ‘zero’. Now compare that to Donald Trump arriving to buy one of our golf courses off his private jet and being met at the end of a red carpet complete with dancing girls and harpists by our Minister for Finance.”

Applause

Gerry Adams: “For the last five years, the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste could have grown the economy and at every opportunity, I stood up and said that to them, ‘grow the economy, you can’t come out of recession…’.”

Enda Kenny: “Yeah you voted against Europe and everything else.”

Adams: “Yeah, because you went cap in hand, on all knees..”

Applause

On Ireland’s ailing health system

Claire Byrne: “Health just seems to stump everybody. It just seems to get everybody.”

Lucinda Creighton: “And we’ve had previous politicians and ministers calling it Angola and so on. I don’t agree, I think it can be solved but it requires leadership and it requires a vision. We had Tony O’Brien, the head of the HSE, and the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar agreeing with him, calling it a visionless organisation, no plan, no strategy. That has to change. The first thing we’re proposing is to depoliticise it. Actually get all of the political parties working together with the healthcare professionals, listen to the nurses, the doctors. We’re proposing in a very short period of time to get a national forum together, to trash out the issues, to identify, not a five-year cycle, promising more changes, the HSE has been a failure, UHI was a failure, all of the various grand plans, they were all designed to win elections and win votes. We need to change the approach, make it about consensus, bring the political parties together, bring the healthcare professionals together, listen to them and develop a 20-year vision, not a five-year one.”

Applause

Claire Byrne: “Richard Boyd Barrett, a NHS system, is that what you’re proposing too?”

Richard Boyd Barrett: “Yes, absolutely, because it’s cheaper and, very simply…”

Byrne: “Yeah, but it has to work.”

Boyd Barrett: “Of course it has to work but it’s cheaper if you don’t have the private healthcare for profit sector taking a huge amount of the expenditure that’s going into health and just putting it into back pockets. The most expenditure on health, anywhere in the world, is in the United States, they spend twice as much, more than twice as much, as Britain does but they have some of the worst outcomes and millions of people have no healthcare whatsoever. Britain, a system which is free at the point of use, spent about half as much because we don’t have all the money going to the private healthcare providers and the private health insurance companies who are just racketeering at the moment..”

Byrne: “Yeah but you can’t use the NHS system as a perfect example…”

Boyd Barrett: “No I’m not saying it’s a perfect example. In fact part of the problem is Margaret Thatcher tried to butcher it and introduce market mechanisms and competition which we don’t need in the health service, we don’t need market mechanisms. What a health service is made up of is nurses, doctors, medicine and the places for them to practice those things. And of course the irony of the Government talking about care in the community is precisely the story we’ve head, or the one in my area where the Loughlinstown A&E was downgraded and we said, at the time, to Minister Varadkar that is going to lead to a disaster in St Vincent’s because the spillover will now go into Vincent’s and of course, lo and behold, within a year or two, that’s exactly what happened. You close down, or downgrade the local A&E services and then you have absolute chaos in the so-called centres of excellence which are actually a nightmare, they’re understaffed, they don’t have enough doctors and nurses.

Applause

Richard Boyd Barrett: “I just want to make the point. Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil between them took 10,000 mostly frontline staff, mostly nurses, out of the health service, and closed down thousands of hospital beds. You certainly don’t get a better public health system by doing that. But you know the irony on the crisis in the A&E and the waiting lists is it’s not as if the capacity doesn’t exist in the country. Because at the same time you could be sitting in a warzone of a hospital that is overcrowded, you hear ads on the radio, a fancy ad, saying, ‘well if you can pay to come to the Beacon Clinic or to the Blackrock, you can come in and there’s no queues at all’ right? And this is the problem. We have a two-tier system where healthcare is being dished out on the basis of the size of your wallet, not on the basis of medical need and that is what we need to address.”

Applause

Stephen Donnelly: “Talk to doctors, nurses, physios in the national health service in the UK and of course they’ll give out about the health system, everybody does but they will be proud of their health system. Talk to our doctors, nurses, physios, hospital porters and they describe the system as the enemy. So yes we need to get the system right but we also have to create a culture where we start to trust our clinicians. Because right now, if you talk to clinicians, they will tell you that they are not trust…”

Joan Burton: “Claire, people, you know, Stephen is speaking in management consultant talk. I can actually hear a stack of reports being written to analyse all the problems but remember, at the end of the day, it’s a very relatively simple job to actually have primary care centres that people go to if they have diabetes, if they have other chronic conditions rather than going to their hospital and if an older person, like Sharon’s dad [from audience] is going to a hospital, it should be possible for Sharon to phone the hospital so that her dad goes to an urgent assessment unit that is actually a structure being created as we speak and I will defy anybody here to imply that our doctors and nurses and our services and our hospitals aren’t hardly bad. The A&E is a terrible problem but when you actually get past the A&E we have splendid doctors and nurses who give very good services and there’s an air of negativity in this debate.

Applause

On homelessness

Micheal Martin: “In 2012, basically, the Labour Party and Joan Burton, as minister for social welfare, reduced rent allowance and the bottom line is this: Focus Ireland, Simon and all the agencies at the coalface said, if you do this and you continue with this you will drive vulnerable families into homelessness and what happened? It went from 12 families a month to 40 families a month to 70 families a month…”

Claire Byrne: “They do it on a case-by-case basis.”

Martin: “The bottom line is more families are being driven into homelessness because of the failure to increase rent supplement. Fr Peter McVerry, everybody involved has been saying this. Joan has her head in the sand in relation to this as a policy issue.”

Joan Burton: “We’re doing it.”

Martin: “It seems ideological in terms of the Labour Party and Fine Gael saying..”

Applause

Richard Boyd Barrett: “The provision of council housing is self-financing, ok? It actually creates a revenue stream for the State. So, whatever upfront money you have to put in and we have it in the Strategic Investment Fund, the Credit Unions have actually offered the Government money to build social housing. We can borrow it from the European Investment Bank at very low interest rates. It’s not a problem, the problem is the political will and the disastrous decisions that were taken by this Government. In 2012 a Labour minister sent around a circular saying ‘we are stopping building council housing’. Full stop. And then Joan Burton compounded that problem in the face of warnings that it would be disastrous by reducing rent allowance and said at the time it would drive rents down and in fact it sent rents through the roof and then they make the problem even worse by selling off all Nama’s property and land to vulture funds who are now ratcheting up rents and making even more people homeless.

Applause

Boyd Barrett: “What we need is a return to old-style council housing provision and affordable housing and rent controls so that these…vulture funds can’t put people on the street.”

Byrne: “So just so we’re clear, Richard, on what you’re going to do. Are you going to fund developers to build the social housing that we need?”

Boyd Barrett: “No we want local authorities and a State construction firm to build the council housing, just as was done when this country was a virtual third world country. We were at least able to put a roof over people’s heads. So please don’t tell me we can’t do it in the 21st century.”

Applause

Byrne: “And you also want to see mortgage writedowns happen, who pays for that?”

Boyd Barrett: “We pay for it anyway, people are put out of their homes, then they end up in the homeless system or reliant on rent allowance.”

Byrne: “But who decides who pays their mortgage and who doesn’t?”

Boyd Barrett: “I think what we need is an approach to insolvency, mortgage insolvency which says, in the first instance, we keep families in their home. Putting them out on the street still ends up costing the State money and people have to be housed anyway.”

Byrne: “Isn’t there a moral hazard there though? That you’re saying, person in number 44, you get to keep your house, you don’t have to pay your mortgage and the next house down, you do have to pay…”

Boyd Barrett: “No the moral hazard is the banks that engage in reckless lending and the bondholders in Europe who financed speculation in the housing market got bailed out by us and the people who are homeless on the streets are paying the price for the crimes of others. And this Government, and indeed the previous Government, chose to protect those banks, those bondholders, the people who engaged in the reckless lending and people in mortgage distress or homeless on the streets are the ones who paid a very bitter price.”

Applause

Rural crime

Lucinda Creighton: “For anybody who’s convicted three times of a serious offence, whether it’s dangerous or armed burglary, whether it’s murder or manslaughter, sexual offences and so on, they will automatically be handed down a life sentence. We’re also proposing to change..”

Claire Byrne: “A life sentence?”

Creighton: “Correct.”

Byrne: “And you want life to mean life? So they’re locked up forever? Hasn’t that been tried in the United States and it doesn’t work?”

Creighton: “Three strikes has worked in some states in the United States and not in others. Where it’s been applied too liberally it hasn’t worked. Where it has been applied judiciously, like in Washington for example, it has worked really effectively. This is about serious criminals who are terrorising people in their homes and we make no apologies for saying they should be taken off our streets. I mean if you just look at, turn on your television this evening and watch the funeral that was taking place in Dublin today. Gardai roaming the streets, hundreds of gardai while known criminals are walking around in broad daylight and I’m not sure if you’re aware, Claire, but in 2009 a piece of legislation was introduced in this country which allowed for the offence of directing a gang or an organised gang and do you know how many prosecutions have been achieved under that legislation?

Byrne: “I’m sure you’re going to tell us?”

Creighton:Zero, not one. And I think it’s an absolute indictment of the political system, of the established parties for failing to ensure that we actually apply our laws, that we have appropriate sentencing laws and that repeat offenders, who terrorise people, are taken off the streets.”

Applause

Byrne: “The other interesting proposal you have, you want to make parents..”

Creighton: “Correct…”

Byrne: “Parents legally responsible for the crimes of their children. Now that will scare the daylights out of some people who are doing their absolute best to raise their children in the best way they possibly can. You’re going to lock them up because they’re children did something wrong.”

Creighton: “We’re not locking them up but what we’re saying is that parents are and should be responsible for their children. I’ll tell you what it means in practice. Where a child is repeatedly convicted or found guilty of offences, their parents will be obliged to show up in court. That’s hardly too much to expect, that a parent should should up and be responsible and…”

Byrne: “Yeah but it’s not their fault.”

Creighton: “And if their children are going through the system repeatedly they will be held responsible for the legal fees. Why should the taxpayer continually pay for children who are running completely out of control and whose parents show no interest. The parents should be held responsible and, again, we make no apologies for saying so.”

Applause

Richard Boyd Barrett: “The big issue in our area, and I think it’s the same in a lot of areas, is the slashing of community services so for example in the last week, we had project in my area, a little small project, called the Oasis Project, which was a drug and youth outreach project, young, vulnerable teenagers in a disadvantaged area, the HSE has slashed that, like they have slashed many other community projects. And the parents at the protest meeting we held said, and a lot of the workers there and this cost a tiny amount of money right, the parents said some of these kids are going to be carrying guns in a year or two because we’ve taken their services away. And the fact of the matter of is if you butcher community and drug task services and outreach services for young people…”

Claire Byrne: “That’s a different thing…”

Boyd Barrett: “No, it isn’t…I’m interested in trying to deal with crime and trying to prevent young people from falling into crime by giving them options.”

Byrne: “That’s perfectly acceptable point to make. But people right now..”

Boyd Barrett: “It’s a point nobody has made yet.”

Byrne: “People right now have a problem with crimes happening tonight. What do you do about it, do you increase Garda numbers, do you reopen the rural Garda stations? What’s your position?”

Boyd Barrett: “I just made the point that if people in rural areas feel they want their stations back, they should get them back. ”

Byrne: “What if that doesn’t work though? What if you’re doing something in order to make people feel better but it doesn’t work. But you’re doing it because people want it you’re not doing it because..no, no, this is very important.”

Boyd Barrett: “It’s very important.”

Byrne:This is taxpayers’ money, you’re going to spend money on doing something that might not work. You’re saying, ‘well if people want them, we’ll give it to them’, that’s populist politics.”

Boyd Barrett: “No it isn’t at all. I said what I think we should do in the areas that I’m familiar with. Where local communities in rural areas have had Post Offices taken away from them, schools closed down or local Garda stations taken away and they think that that has damaged their community, they have right to have those things back.”

Byrne: “OK.”

Boyd Barrett:I bow to the will of the people in those areas. But in the areas that I know, what we need is to put in support and services for young people in disadvantaged areas.”

Applause

Following contributions from Gerry Adams, Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin on organised crime in Ireland…

Richard Boyd Barrett: “If we could also do something about the white collar crime and the people who’ve robbed this country blind…”

Applause

Civil war politics – can Fine Gael and Fianna Fail forming a coalition

Lucinda Creighton: “There is no difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, there’s no difference in terms of the culture, in terms of the influence of the vested interests in Government, in terms of whether it was the Galway Tent or whether it was the appointments to State boards, whether it’s the judiciary…”

Byrne: “I heard you say in an interview that this for you is about Government, that you would go into Government.”

Creighton: “No it’s not, you see that’s where you’re wrong. For me, it’s not about power, it’s not about just getting into  a ministerial office and I’ve proven that already. This is about a new vision for the country, it’s about a new way of doing business.”

Byrne: “But you have said you don’t want to go in there and be impotent..”

Creighton: “Exactly, and the one thing I can say and I can commit to is that Renua Ireland will not enter Government just to make up the numbers there are plenty of other parties that are willing to do that, we are only going to enter Government if we see serious change in terms of transparency, accountability, cleaning up politics, ending cronyism and an entirely different approach to politics and to governance in this country. And if that happens then we will be happy to enter Government and really it doesn’t matter who it is, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, makes no difference to me, they’re pretty much all the same.”

Applause

Gerry Adams:I think that the electorate should send the three amigos [Martin, Kenny and Burton] to ride off into the sunset…”

Laughter

Adams: “They should take this opportunity, let them get on their donkeys and ride off because there’s a chance now to elect…”

Laughter

Adams: “There’s a chance now to elect a progressive government, there are 101 candidates who have signed up to a programme, a charter for change, which is about public services, it’s about people-centred, citizen-centered governance. Now, also at this time, more people in the last election, across the island of Ireland voted for Sinn Fein than voted at the historic election in 19 and 18, so there’s a change coming and the people should seize the opportunity. James Connolly said in 1916, on New Year’s Eve, opportunities are for those who seize them, let the people seize the opportunity on the 26th and get this crowd out and put a progressive Government in.”

Applause

Richard Boyd Barrett: “We’re willing to talk to anybody who’s willing to pursue genuinely progressive policies based on lifting the burden of austerity and giving the proper the funding to our health and education and public services and fighting for equality.”

Byrne: “You would go into Government with Gerry Adams?”

Boyd Barrett: “We will discuss with anybody who is interested in those things and that’s why we’ve signed up to the Right To Change platform. What we will not do and do what the Labour Party did in the past, in fact on many occasions, which is swap their principles and their promises and their policies, in order simply to get into power and then betray those policies.”

Applause

Watch the debate in full here

78 thoughts on “Applause For Thought

  1. Jimmy 2 tones

    Stephen Donnelly is the future. How anyone can vote for FG, FF or Labour is beyond help. They have had there chance & destroyed this country.

    Time for change.

    1. meadowlark

      Was impressed by him myself. Joan, Enda and Co were tiring to watch, to listen to the hackneyed rhetoric they’ve been coming out with.

    2. Jimmee

      Why do you think Donnelly is the future?

      As far as I can see he’s well able to point out all the problems (who isn’t these days) but when you look at his answers they’re all very fluffy with little to no concrete solutions provided. Take for instance his national healthcare model. He just assumes copying the UK system will work here. Does he even understand the scale of the job to implement that? Reilly flirted with UHI and failed miserably. Donnelly’s idea is even less well explained than FG’s was and we’re supposed to think he’ll turn it around? And how vastly different would a UK style NHS be from the HSE at the end of the day? Finally, how would Donnelly’s health system ever see the light of day if they’ve ruled out taking seats at cabinet if the FG-Labour Government wanted their support. The guy is a charlatan. The ultimate fence sitter. Well able to point and complain, but knows full well he’ll never get near the reigns of power and have to show some responsibility.

      1. Nigel

        Frankly, anyone who suggests anything other than a complete overhaul of the health service doesn’t understand, or won’t admit to, the scale of the work necessary to fix it.

      2. Clampers Outside!

        Donnelly’s idea is even less well explained than FG’s was and we’re supposed to think he’ll turn it around?
        You haven’t gone to their website then, I take it.

        As for the “less well explained”…

        ALL that detail FG cram in to convincing you thyey have a plan is based on X, Y, Z, A, B, C, D, E, F, G and a tonne of other factors remaining equal or in continued growth.

        I’m sorry that you are still fooled by the “i have a five year plan” crowd, it just means nobody is REALLY looking ahead.

      3. 15 cents

        the only ‘detail’ the rest went into was that they have a ‘plan’ .. now if they were working on this plan for the guts of 5 years, you’d think they have SOME indications as to what they’ll do. but they dont. they just bad mouth the other parties, and once in power, adopt a suck-it-and-see approach and hope that everything irons itself out. pretty much what FG/LAB have done while in government. Donnelly did make a few points where he actually said things they’d do to make change. so did Richard Boyd Barrett, no one else did. worryingly, the main three who will probably hold power for as long as we live, never do have an actual plan.

  2. Byrnelive

    I gave up counting the number of times Claire screeched stuff and yeah. Shockingly low standards from our national broadcaster.

    1. ahjayzis

      Are you joking? Claire was masterful, just compare her to the mess of incoherency that was the 4-way on TV3, she managed 7 petulant egos really well, I thought.

      1. Byrnelive

        She managed to keep them in line by hectoring and interrupting . Harsh does not equate with competency. I am heading into my vintage years, grey and over fifty. I can recall the days when you had the likes of Olivia O Leary .An erudite, refined, talented broadcaster. They don’t make them like that in Ireland anymore. The talent lies in the question posed, not in the tone used.

        1. ahjayzis

          There was no reverence alright, but that’s what’s called for – first names, a level playing field, treating them all as candidates seeking election, not office-holders and tough rebuttals, that’s what politics should be about in a Republic.

          1. Anne

            She came across as a bit of a whingebag to me.

            She strutted off up the stage at one point and had a whinge saying something like ‘we can’t hear anything right now is what we can hear’. She said a few minutes later that she’d walk off up the stairs to the audience again if they didn’t stop talking over each other.

            I didn’t like her whingey tone. She had no charm about her. It could have been a bit of fun keeping them in check. She came across as a bit of charmless whingebag. She seems to get very annoyed in a sort of personal way.. I’ve seen her act like that before on some show she was presenting.

    2. Kdoc1

      I thought Claire gave a master class in controlling the candidates. Actually, Katie Hannon (she with the pen & paper and great legs) thought Claire Byrne was the winner.

      1. Byrnelive

        She controlled them . I agree. She didn’t drive or lead the debate. You can only do that if you ask the right questions. Simply reverting to a prepared agenda does not drive a debate.

      1. rory

        Awful? Really? I’ve heard nothing but praise for her performance until this thread. What did she do wrong in your eyes?

          1. classter

            Pat Kenny was good on current affairs / politics.

            He was a little wooden on the more lightweight topics but actually, even on those topics he was miles better than Tubbers.

  3. ahjayzis

    Stand out moment of the debate for me was Joan Burton’s parting shot – Vote No.1 for Labour, then vote No.2 for Fine Gael.

    The ONLY Labour party in Europe actively campaigning to get votes for a Tory party. You’re done Joan, fupp off.

    The bit about Roisin Shorthall was devastating also.

    1. ahjayzis

      Stephen did really, really well, but I think it’d have more symbolism last night if Joan was stood beside Roisin, who could properly demolish their waffling on health and totally expose how quiescent Labour is to FG stroke politics.

      1. Same old same old

        I totally agree. It was interesting how Shortall
        Dominated a thread at one point even when she was not there

    1. rory

      I don’t really understand peoples fixation on this moment.
      I know there was a dearth of humorous footage that could magically symbolise how banjaxed a party/country is,
      but still, I think people who selected the ‘pointy paper’ moment were reaching.

    1. classter

      As a result of the lack of opposition, Enda has already lost the run of himself.

      I genuinely shudder to think what will happen if he gets in again.

      At this stage, it seems that I can only hope that there’s a heave within FG.

  4. The florist

    Sorry I have a life, what’s going on here? an election you say! nothing to see here, move on…nothing changes, now back to netflix…

  5. Starina

    “Adams: “Yeah, because you went cap in hand, on all knees..””

    how many knees does Enda have, exactly?

    1. ahjayzis

      Many millions – when he cowers before his bosses he drags the rest of us with him.

      The entire society is in hock because Enda didn’t want ‘defaulter’ written on his forehead.

      1. Steve

        Read chapter 11 of the banking inquiry final report. Fascinating reading. Might help address such sweeping statements

  6. Pale Blue Dot Cotton

    Didn’t see Enda get one round of applause. Yet he’s going to be Taoiseach again. Great little country.

    1. Steve

      That’s how you measure politicians?? How big a clap they get.

      If you swallowed Richard ‘a Garda station for any village that wants them’ Boyd Barrett populist horses@&t…..well….Lolz

        1. Steve

          Ye know what moyest. That is something I completely agree with ye on. I’m totally against FG getting rid of the USC. It should be modified to away from low earners and slightly heavier on higher earners. Told that to my FG candidate who called to their door. I’m hoping that when SDs are negotiating the programme for government that this pre election yabber is removed.

          Surprise with something you don’t agree with your number one preference on.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            It’s not about agreeing with 100% of what your party does, it’s about sneering at other parties for something that your party also does and, if anything, does worse.

          2. Vote Rep #1

            I thought that he was sneering at the idea of measuring how good a politician is by the amount of applause they get.

      1. Bobby

        It simply demonstrated that he’s so incompetent that people struggle to force out a pity clap for the fool.

      2. classter

        Steve, after the last few months, FG can forget about throwing around the term ‘populist’ at anybody else.

        They have given up any pretence at serious policy-making & have been making all sorts of stupid, unsustainable, unfunded promises.

  7. Steve

    @moyest we’re going around in circles here. I don’t like FG’s policy of removing USC because it’s both short-sighted and populist. I agree with you.

    I would argue that RBB’s level of populism is far greater than FG because of his platform and he knows that this will probably swing a few preferences without him being near cabinet.

    But out of interest do you disagree with any policies of your 1st pref?? I’m interested to discuss this, as opposed to the standard BS mud slinging.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “we’re going around in circles here.”

      That tends to happen when you talk about something even after I said it wasn’t relevant to my point. Again, this isn’t about 100% agreeing with your first preference. Nobody does. It’s about you sneering at someone for something when your guys do that same something.

    2. ahjayzis

      But FG are running entirely on a supposed sense of fiscal prudence – if you disagree with them abandoning 4bn of revenue and they’re at variance on the ‘fiscal space’ with their own advisory council by a factor of billions, what attracts you to them?

      If fiscal prudence isn’t the factor that’s motivating you to vote for them, it being the only leg on their campaign – what is? Because I can’t detect any vision for reform or anything of the sort – and Ireland’s administration, democracy and social services seeeeeriously need reform.

      FG and FF are just so calcified and unambitiously incremental – a few million of increases in budgets won’t anywhere near sort our ailing health, education or security services – they were in rag order when we were rolling in cash.

        1. Steve

          Because, IMO, I think the gov have a done a good job of getting the country back off it’s knees from the worst economic disaster experienced by an OECD country since the Great Depression. Things haven’t been great, agreed, and people have been through pain, again agreed, but I think things would have been a lot worse if we had defaulted/ abandonded EU support.See Greece. And yes the way the EU administered that “support” wasn’t right, I get that also. But IMO the gov made the best of a very very very bad situation . I’m guessing that’s what 28-32% of the current electorate think as well.

          The USC cut is stupid IMO, but the next gov aren’t going to cut 10% off the tax base without replacing it in some fashion, hopefully the replacement will be as progressive (largely) as the USC.

          1. ahjayzis

            Well Fintan O’Toole nailed it today I think – every cut or tax rise wasn’t their fault at the time – they were doing what they were told and there was no choice about it. Then look at what they did have responsibility for – housing, health, political reform and policing matters and it’s a car crash. They made clear – at the time – that the decisions necessary to rescue the public finances were beyond their control, Fianna Fail’s fault for pledging them to the Troika – how can they now turn around and claim credit?

            How can you base your vote on that alone when all they did was take their medicine? Direct rule from Germany would have done the job on public finances and avoided the absolute shambolic mess they made in other areas.

            On your last paragraph – evidence to date makes your hope in that regard look very weak. FG and Labour have shown a real penchant for new taxes and charges they bring in having zero regard to income or means.

      1. Junkface

        Agreed! Massive change needed, especially with Health Services. I was impressed by Stephen Donnelly, especially on the USC topic

  8. Whatevers

    RBB tapped into the audience anger but it was Donnelly and Creighton who were head and shoulders above anyone else last night.

    1. Junkface

      Claire Byrne did a Great job moderating the debate, never let them turn it into a shouting match like the TV3 one. She’s very smart and she is also a very attractive ladyperson…

  9. Steve

    @ahjaysis , don’t agree with your absolutist language – car crash, shambolic mess etc. It’s too RBB. I agree things were bad, but things would have been a lot worse if we had defaulted and had to cut our costs by 15-20% overnight.

    So if the solution is to take trioika medicine and direct rule from Germany and leave domestic governance on autopilot why is Spain’s unemployment rate hovering around 23% still and not anywhere near our 8%? Or GNP growth rates for that matter.?

    The gov can claim a lot of credit.

    Property tax is based on house price = progressive.

    USC = based on income which even Taft and SIPTU agree is progressive.

    Water charges = originally based on consumption with social supports , akin to fuel allowance, to help those in need. We have now the cheapest water water in the OECD

    1. ahjayzis

      Property tax was a massive missed opportunity – it is progressive only in the sense that living in a 2 bed terraced semi in Dublin is not a luxury for people who are from Dublin, living in a nine-bed mansion in the country is – and the developer with a gigantic landbank can breath a sigh of relief as he’s still welcome to sit on it til demand grows larger and larger and then make a killing, pushing up the house prices on the houses eventually constructed. It plays ZERO role in controlling the property sector, and merely replaces revenue already cut from local authorities, revenue that was from genuine progressive taxation.

      Why is USC in there? They didn’t introduce it and they want to abolish it?

      Water charges is a flat charge to pay for capital investment – by their own admission. The charges are not for production and maintenance, they’re for reconstruction of the entire network – which is a capital project. We do not charge a flat tax on the parents of schoolchildren to rebuild their school. At their botched revised rates Irish Water exists to collect bills for Irish Water and is doing so at a net loss while the problem of double-taxation remains.

      I’d call sacking a Garda Commissioner in the dead of night, the McNulty affair, the Begg affair, a reform of legal services written by and for the legal professions, Irish Water, gifting Siteserv to DOB weeks before awarding a masive conract to Siteserv, all the other write-downs, the fire-sale of NAMA assets to vulture funds and rack-renters, A&E’s looking like bombsites and the handling of whistleblowers and Garda malpractice shambolic car crashes. That’s not being absolutist, unless there’s a silver lining to all these things I’m missing.

      1. Steve

        FG made USC more progressive, cuts to lower and introduced new band over 70k.

        Very ropey response on the progressive nature of the property tax. But Fair enough, id agree with ye there on a few points. The handling of some of those situations have been poor and impossible to defend. Actually, I know it seems minor, but I think the mcnulty issue is the worst. On Nama , vulture funds etc. , I don’t agree with you. It has a job and it’s going a good job IMO with running a billion profit to the state in 2015 etc.

        On water charges , sorry but you’re misinformed. Way off. The domestic charges, in combination with the non-domestic charges and government subvention pay for the operational and capital costs of the system, which includes production and maintenance of the network. There is no delineation as to how these sources of revenue pay for the system, I.e it’s not the case that domestic charges alone pay for capital investment on the network. Read documents on the regulator CER website .

        Any word on Spain’s unemployment rate?

        1. ahjayzis

          You might have a word with Fine Gael on that then, because that is precisely how it was sold, from the minister’s mouth any time they’re asked – that’s the source in charge in my mind, it’s to rebuild the system, to encourage foreign direct investment, I’m happy to pay my way, progressively, which probably means I’ll pay more – but I do not agree with flat taxation.

          Ropey in what way? A family on an income of 40k living in a 410k 3 bed terraced house in Crumlin pay E765 – a family on an income of 80k living in a 205k 5 bed detached dormer bungalow in Wexford pay E405? Point out the progressive part? And tell me how the Dublin family is supposed to ameliorate this unfairness? Move 100 miles down the road? Add to that that the Dublin Local Authority will be transferring a percentage of the Crumlin familiy’s tax to pay for services for the family in Wexford…?

          NAMA has a job, so does the government. They’re in charge of a society, not a balance sheet. Do you think the country pays no price when NAMA sells off tranches of houses to rack-renting foreign venture capitalists? Has that played no role in the housing crisis? A billion profit going to cover the costs of that? While we’re now rushing to build thousands of desperately needed social houses, we’ve flogged thousands of desperately needed potential social houses at fire-sale prices to the people driving rents through the roof fueling the need for social houses…

          Why would I discuss Spain? Fine Gael’s sister-party of the right has been in power for the last five years and they’ve had no Troika programme, kind of makes my point for me ;)

        2. ahjayzis

          Also, it’s irrelevant that they’ve made anything more progressive when as soon as they get the chance they’re abolishing it altogether.

  10. Steve

    And we go on and on haha . Ah ok get ye on property tax. We should base it on incomes. That’s a fair enough proposal, worth debating in any future reform of the tax. But then there is the whole “shouldn’t property tax reflect local amenities etc”, crumlin versus rural wexford.

    Spain got a 100billion plus bail out in June 2012, with agreement that the EU would “ensure” Spain stuck to it’s broader economic commitments. Sounds awfully familiar. ;)

    This was good though, I like they way there wasn’t accusations of blue shirt etc

    1. :-Joe

      You seem like you’re a decent person with a reasonable level of intelligence, so how can you justify voting for FG / FF ?

      Is it because of a fatalist belief it will always be one or the other and you want to stay on the winning team?

      Honestly, I’m not being smart and no offence intended, I just can”t get my head around the fact that so many people are willing to make the same bad decisions over and over again in the face of overwhelming evidence against it.

      Seriously. do you really believe (FG//FF) The Bhoys + ( Latest Victim(s)) 1 / 2 coalition partner(s) is going to be anything new, let alone be anything progressive?

      :-J

    2. ahjayzis

      Ah sure stop, I’ve dated actual Tories, not your watered-down Irish breed, I’ve a high tolerance to argument without vitriol, even if you are a joyless deranged sociopathic child of Thatcher with a contempt for the poor, a fawning obeisance to the rich and a hatred for the very idea of society and solidarity :op

      1. Steve

        Nice one ahjaysis , excellent :) hope he/she loved you in a cold hearted brutal way.

        @joe – simple – process of deduction.

        FF – Let me clear, I’m not nor never will vote for FF. They can’t be trusted with the economy , see 1932 to 1948, 1977 to late 80s (pretty much) and 2003-2008. I’m genuinely worried about them being part of the next gov.

        SF – I completely disagree with their guiding principle of a united ireland. Until they accept that there a half a million people in the north east of this island that don’t want to be part of it and apologise for their role in the troubles they won’t be getting a vote. I ignore all their public policy pronouncements because of this.

        AAA/PBP – I see a lot of fair points in their policies and admire their conviction. Tbh FG need more of that in their leadership. But I don’t think their policies stack up from an economic sense, e.g I agree with a financial transaction tax but don’t think it would be effective if only ireland adopted and nobody else did. It would affect employment is this country, simple as. We need global enforcement of such a measure.

        SD – I have great hope for this party. They get my number 2, even above other FG candidates running in the constituency. I’d like to see them in the next gov

        Ind – I admire these people, again people with convinction and I will give Maureen O Sullivan a preference even if she uses that ‘Gregory candidate’ malarkey. A gov of independents would like to be trying to herd cats.

        So there ye have it.

          1. :-Joe

            If you mean, wannabe coalition partner to FG or potential Tánaiste you could be right.

            I hope not though… I’d like to think they wouldn’t just repeat the same mistakes of many others before just to get at the illusion of power for five years.

            :-J

        1. :-Joe

          OK, you’re towing the party line straight from the election handbook but do you not recognise that FF/FG are practically the one same party and technically they serve the same interests? – & Guess what, they are most likely not your interests.

          How is FG + SD going to be anything different than FF+Greens or FG+Labour?
          Both just recent examples of the failures of many previous coalitions with the Bhoys before.

          If you had to choose based on a team or who is likely to have a chance at leading a coalition, SF are more progressive than the others and together with another smaller party or perhaps a rainbow coalition of multiple parties and or independents they would accelerate the possibility of real reform and change.. At least they can’t be any worse.

          I have always voted local independents and I’ve never regretted it. but we need to find a way to push The Bhoys to one side and try something new. A progressive government is long long overdue.

          FG & FF together would be the biggest disaster for this country and their coalition partners always get wiped out and hung out to dry for believing they will keep any election promises.

          :-J

  11. Anne

    Richard Boyd Barrett and Stephen Donnelly were definitely the best of the bunch.

    I thought they were all fairly civilised too, except for Moany Joan… she’s a total appache. The worst knackers in Limerick wouldn’t put a patch on her. She gets personal and nasty.

  12. D

    Can someone please explain to me why we even need centralised government anymore in this day and age? I understand that before everyone was connected it made sense to have people from different areas of the country representing the interests of its people but that model is beyond outdated. I seriously can’t understand why the entire thing isn’t just done away with.

    Surely we can develop a social governance app or something to that effect that would essentially allow everyone in the country a chance to have a ‘referendum’ on all the issues all the time, thus putting all of these spoofers out of a job and putting the job of organising the states welfare in the direct hands of its people. This might sound like a wild idea… but just think about it for a while. The actual job of organising the expenditure on the state would be very straight forward if you took all the red tape out of the equation. Local authorities would play a huge role but the actual decision making would be a collective one.

    1. classter

      ‘why we even need centralised government anymore in this day and age?’

      So how would decisions on national infrastructure be made for example? The local authorities could not & would not have delivered the motorway network – not at all & definitely not to the timescale & quality achieved by the NRA. They are far too small to have the required competence & they all have conflicting local pressures and preferences.

      Sure, you could present options to the electorate with a list of pros and cons. So you would still need some sort of centralised civil service. But who would oversee this civil service on behalf of the public? Who would decide what options were investigated for the public to vote on? What proportion of the public would do the necessary research to decide on each & every decision?

  13. D

    You’re right. Things should be left as they are. The lads are doing a great job.
    Look at the great roads we got for example!

    1. classter

      I’m not suggesting that ‘things should be left as they are’.

      I was just using a basic example to flesh out your idea of completely replacing central govt with an app

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