Requiem For A Breen

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Fine Gael ‘s Michael Noonan (left) and Pat Breen

We have a ‘deal’.

Earlier this morning, Fine Gael TD from Clare, Pat Breen, spoke to Morning Ireland presenter Dr Gavin Jennings about  the ‘agreement’ reached between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on a Fine Gael minority-led government.

So, any concessions?

Grab a tay.

Dr Gavin Jennings: “I gather unanimous backing at your own parliamentary party meeting for this document last night?”

Pat Breen: “Yes indeed, we had a full house for the parliamentary party meeting and it was a unique meeting because it was the first time we had our almost complete parliamentary party together since the Senate results, we got new Senators in place. Minister Coveney went through the document in detail and there was unanimous backing in relation to it. Questions were asked by a lot of members, of course but I mean it was constructive, it was a good meeting and it got the unanimous backing of the Fine Gael parliamentary party.”

Dr Jennings: “Fianna Fáil conceded to a Fine Gael-led minority government, what has  your party conceded to Fianna Fáil?”

Breen: “Well it’s not a question about conceding, it’s a question of a compromise. I mean, look, we faced a situation, after the general election, where we didn’t get the majority we needed to return the outgoing government, we returned as the largest party in the Dáil, I think there was an onus on Fine Gael to try and form a Government, we’ve been trying to do this over the last 67 days, talking to Independents, talking to Fianna Fáil, and eventually coming up with this document which reflects the broad policy principles, agreed by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael negotiators and today of course we’re making progress with the Independents and hopefully before the end of the week we may be able to put a Government into place.”

Dr Jennings: “Now it’s in writing, it’s been published, we can see it, it contains a lot more policy than I think many of us expected, albeit, in some places, it’s a little vague. Can I just read out some sections just to see…”

Breen: “Sure.”

Dr Jennings: “These might have been some of the questions that might have been raised by you and other members last night. You spent a long time talking about water with Fianna Fáil and we know about the commission that’s going to be set up and the suspension of water charges. ‘We affirm that those who’ve paid their water charges to date will be treated no less favourably than those who have not’ – what does that mean?”

Breen: “Well it means that anybody that has paid their bills will have paid their bills in full obviously. It’ll take six weeks to set up this commission and to suspend the water charges. So everybody will have to pay their water bills for the first half of this year. And obviously the law has to be upheld in relation to those people, we want to treat people equally here, to that haven’t paid their water bills and that’s the situation at the moment. Water bills are live right up to the time when legislation is put into place, probably in six to seven days time which will probably bring the water bills right up to the end of June.”

Dr Jennings: “So those who haven’t paid will be pursued?”

Breen:Those that haven’t paid will be pursued, the law will have to be upheld in relation to this.”

Dr Jennings: “How will they be pursued?”

Breen: “That’s a matter for the Irish Water, obviously they’re pursuing people at the moment. Over 65% of the people that paid their water bills – that water, any arrears that are in place will be there for those people to pay at some stage.”

Dr Jennings: “And if you don’t pay?”

Breen:If you don’t pay then that’s a matter for Irish Water to decide how to deal with the situation.”

Dr Jennings: “The other questions that arise, and there’s a few of them, under the heading ‘Securing affordable homes and tackling homelessness’. You promise to provide greater protection for mortgage holders – how?”

Breen: “I think that’s all, this is, first of all, I have to say this policy is a statement of broad policy principles..”

Dr Jennings: “Very broad.”

Breen: “It’s a bit broad. That’s all you’d expect it to be Gavin, really, at this stage. It’s not going to be a programme for Government. Obviously a programme for Government would be much more comprehensive. You have to understand this is a minority-Government and that Fianna Fáil will be in opposition and we’re going to be in Government, so the document that was agreed was always going to be very broad, a broad policy principles of both parties in agreement. On the issues that were raised at the doorsteps during the election campaign, you mentioned mortgage relief and that’s something that’s extremely important – that’s now been extended now right up to, it was supposed to end in December 2017 – that’s going to be extended as well. Rent supplement is going to be increased as well – up to 15% as well. So, you know, what we have done in this document is that we haven’t compromised in the core Fine Gael policy, I think that’s important as well.”

Dr Jennings: “At all?”

Breen: “No, not in a lot of issues. We’ve, if you look at the document in detail, a lot…”

Dr Jennings:Did you compromise at all?

Breen: “A lot of the Fine Gael manifesto is included in this here, of course you have to compromise on certain issues…”

Dr Jennings: “Like what?”

Breen: “Well we compromised in relation to Irish Water. First, you know, Fianna Fáil did as well. We wanted charges to be brought in immediately. That didn’t happen because we didn’t get the numbers in the Dáil… and Irish Water is still there. I think that’s the important thing to point out.”

Dr Jennings: “Have you compromised on USC?”

Breen: “No, well, we haven’t compromised in USC, what we have, we have compromised a certain amount in USC...”

Dr Jennings: “You said you wanted to abolish…”

Breen: “What we want to do here is eventually fade out USC, but we are, it’s going to, I mean we are going to ensure that low-paid workers and middle-aged workers, middle-paid workers, that it’s going to be reduced on them, so it’s going to take a little bit of time…”

Dr Jennings: “Are you going to abolish it?”

Breen: “Sorry?”

Dr Jennings: “Are you going to abolish it? Have you had to compromise?”

Breen: “Eventually, we will abolish USC…it was always going to be a temporary tax, it was never going to be a permanent tax for people. And, you know, at the doorsteps, people, during the election campaign, people were very much in favour of this tax which was, again as I said, a temporary tax, it was never going to be a permanent tax.”

Dr Jennings: “‘We will take all necessary action to tackle high variable interest rates’ – what does that mean?”

Breen:Well, exactly, I mean obviously what’s important here, in relation for people, is to ensure that people are kept in their homes, that they can pay an affordable mortgage, I think that’s extremely important as well. And you know when we put the programme for Government together, obviously it’ll be much more comprehensive in relation to…”

Dr Jennings: “What does ‘take all necessary action’ mean?”

Breen: “Well it’ll mean ensure that we work for the people, we’re in a situation now we’re in a minority government, we have to ensure that we’re working for the people and to ensure…”

Dr Jennings: “Yes, I know that but just, the phrase is put in here after weeks of talks, what does it mean – ‘take all necessary action’. Is it just thrown in there just to make us all feel good or does it mean something?”

Breen: “No it’s put in there for a reason, it’s put in there for a reason because we know the difficulties that people are facing in relation to mortgages, we know the difficulties people have in relation to a payment, paying their mortgages and you know every effort has to be made to ensure that people are kept in their family homes.”

Dr Jennings: “Like what?”

Breen: “Well, whatever is, you know, can be decided by the Government when it’s set in place. It’s not for me to decide on that at the moment. Obviously that’s something that’s going to be put into the programme for government. There is going to be a minister for housing put into place and, you know, there’s going to be Dáil committees as well. I think the Dáil is going to be a very important place now for Dáil deputies because a  lot more work is going to be done there and, obviously, you’re going to have corresponding committees as well, so the new Dáil is going to be far more transparent, it’s going to be far more accountable and a lot more work is going to be done there – particularly in relation to the preparation of budgets.”

Dr Jennings: “When will there be a Government?”

Breen: “I would hope there would be a Government in place before the end of the week, if not early next week, but I would hope that it would happen sooner rather than later. I think a lot of progress has been made with the Independents over the last couple of days. There’s going to be a lot of work done today with the Independents as well. There are some outstanding issues to be dealt with but, you know, most concerns have been dealt with the [Independent] Alliance and with the rural group.”

Dr Jennings: “What are the big issues left to be dealt with?”

Breen: “Well, obviously, the individual deputies, Independent deputies will have their own issues, I’m not privy to those issues at the moment because obviously those talks are taking place within the confines of Leinster House with our negotiators but I’m happy to report that a lot of progress has been made and I’m confident that we will be in a situation in the coming days to form a minority government and there’s going to be a challenge, there’s no doubt about that out there. The reality here is for all deputies, 158 deputies is that the careful management of the economy and the public finances will remain a priority for them, this minority government and there’s a challenge for all of us in this, including the Opposition.”

Listen back in full here 

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25 thoughts on “Requiem For A Breen

  1. Jimmy 2 tones

    They just want the Mor-ons to still sign up & then they have you & your kids future generations signed up to huge bills when it’s sold off. It’s incredible that the people can’t see this. 65% have is complete lies, guys working in there have said its below 25% now with direct debits cancelled & it was only ever around 40% before this. Complete lies, anyone would be crazy to pay another penny to this corrupt quango

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      Yet another squalid and shameful arrangement designed to keep bums on seats (and these are SOME bums), and snouts firmly in the trough. Eff “de peepil” as in “de peepil have spoken” – I and my buddies are on the pig’s back for the next five years. Job done, sorted. Revolution anybody?

    2. some old queen

      There has been no real reason given as to why refunds cannot be given.

      Some people have paid, the rest won’t pay which leaves any government in a very sticky situation. One of two thing will happen, either those who have paid will get their money back or they won’t. If they do, it will be costed which means the real figures will come out and if at odds with Irish Water’s, means they will have lost all credibility to the point of no return.

    3. Kieran NYC

      How about the bills you’re handing to future generations when the underfunded water infrastructure crumbles in 30 years in one bad winter and it costs tens of billions extra in emergency repairs to fix the whole thing?

      1. some old queen

        Jazus Kieran you are like a broken record. The charges were not going to contribute one single cent to the upgrade. Even at full compliance it was debatable if it would even have covered the cost of Irish water alone. And anyways, the privatisation of Irish water would have handed bills to future generations which would have been ongoing with no return.

  2. manolo

    Why did we bother voting at all? It’s business as usual. We will continue voting this crowd in and they will continue to do whatever they fee like doing for them and their buddies. A bloody joke is what this country is.

  3. fmong

    Breen: I mean, look, we faced a situation, after the general election, where we didn’t get the majority we needed to return the outgoing government

    We… We… We… We NEEDED to return.. to finish selling off the state?

    what cheek, and I suppose it was US the pesky Irish people ruining Their plans…

  4. Eoin

    I’m thinking about leaving before Christmas myself at this stage. I’ll decide after the next anti- Irish Water/ anti- austerity/ anti-general establishment corruption protest. There was 80k at the last one. If there’s more than 80k at the next one then there’s still hope for us.

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      Eoin, my biggest regret was that I didn’t get out while the getting was good. I am now to old (more importantly, too poor) to be accepted as a migrant anywhere. quelle domage.

  5. dav

    lol the blushirts are going keep on flogging the dead water horse. They are going to be wiped out come the next election

  6. ollie

    Water:
    “the law has to be upheld ” There’s no law that states you have to pay a utility bill. It’s up to iw to pursue people for non-payment, which they can’t do because the attachment order legislation isn’t signed into law.
    “obviously they’re pursuing people at the moment”. No they are not.

    Housing:
    “There is going to be a minister for housing put into place” There already is a minister for housing

    USC:
    “at the doorsteps, people, during the election campaign, people were very much in favour of this tax”
    Sweet Jesus!

    What an idiot this man is. If you are reading this Mr Breen I’d like to publicly debate you on any issue of your choosing.

  7. 1980s Man

    Sinn Fein will ditch Adams as leader during 1916 and Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein will share power within a couple of years. All the West Brit Fine Gaelers will burn the bridges over the river Dodder and take shelter in their enclave with RDS, RTE and UCD becoming their ‘Green Zone’ of ideological control.

    The Sophies, Williams, Henrys and Charlottes will never again mix with the Eamonns, Aoifes, Seans, Niamhs.

    The Duchy of Dublin versus real Ireland!

    1. Declan

      Alternatively young people will grow up not giving a crap about your or my old old politics, form new parties and a lovely Mairead and Henry one day will have a baby called Keywest.

      Come back Gerry and Enda all is forgiven

  8. Smith

    Do we need to call him Dr. Jennings when he’s in his capacity as a broadcaster?

    1. The Old Boy

      Glorying unnecessarily in academic titles seems to be a somewhat jocular element of the Broadsheet house style.

  9. sendog

    reminds me of sum of the excuses chancers would give teachers when asked why they didnt do their homework. Pure waffle meally mouthed excuses and deflection.

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