He’s Not The Messiah


File Photo: Reports have come out of the Fine Gael PP meeting last night, prior to the No Confidence debate in the Dail, that the two ’Big Beast’s’ in the race to succeed Enda Kenny as leader of Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney, joined forces to propose that FG prepare for a General Election. Thus forcing the Taoiseachs hand in setting a date for the transfer of power to a new leader.End. 29/05/2013. L TO R. Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar with Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny officially open Irish Sport HQ On behalf of the National Sports Campus. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Leo Varadkar and Enda Kenny

He’s just a very ordinary minister.

Martin McMahon writes:

Back in the Charles J day, Haughey was more than shrewd enough to have the measure of his would-be successor. Of Bertie Ahern he said:

“He’s the man. He’s the best, the most skillful, the most devious, and the most cunning of them all”

There was a strong element of ‘it takes one to know one’ in Haughey’s remark. Charlie knew people; he knew what made them tick (or thick); he knew the buttons he could press and the ones not to press in order to achieve the best political outcome for himself.

Charlie’s people skills undoubtedly revealed a high emotional intelligence which he used to ruthlessly manipulate others and become the dominant politician of his generation. Haughey never allowed himself to be upstaged by his eventual successor.

The same cannot be said of Enda Kenny. Despite his best efforts to marginalise Leo in the Angola Ministries of Health and Social Protection, Leo has managed to shine brighter than Enda.

One might be tempted to think that Leo is the man, the most skillful, possibly the most devious or maybe the most cunning of them all.

One would be wrong.

The writing is on the wall for Enda. Pretty much everybody knows this except, of course, for the Taoiseach himself. Even if he does defy popular public opinion and insist on limping on, his days as Taoiseach and Fine Gael party leader are numbered. A voter-friendly face is essential to the party faithful.

Leo has become a ‘Daaahling‘ of established media types. His gaffe prone history is conveniently forgotten in the scramble to counter the inexorable return of Fianna Fáil.

No matter how dismal, cynical or self-serving his performance, he is relentlessly flogged by the mainstream media as something he most certainly is not.

This MSM fabricated version of Leo was perfectly encapsulated back in 2014 by RTÉs Drivetime in an analysis by Health Correspondent Sara Burke of Leo’s first six months as Health Minister:

“I think he’s fared very well. It’s the first time we’ve had a competent Minister for Health. It’s early days but he’s hardly put a foot wrong. He’s been really good at preempting crises. He preempted the really high numbers we saw in E.Ds (Emergency Departments). He’s very good at dampening expectations. The weekend before an extremely critical HIAQ report on ambulance services, he went out on the Saturday night with the ambulances.

He made that really nuanced, excellent speech in the Dail on Clare Daly’s proposal in relation to abortion before the story broke of the pregnant woman who’s clinically dead in the Midlands……..

Critically I think Leo’s done two things, he’s brought political news to the point which has been really missing now and he seems to have the support of the Cabinet behind him and critically the support of the Economic Management Council and that’s how he managed to achieve (prevent) any more cuts to Health and a slight increase but also he’s brought clarity and direction setting out a clear stall with his top ten priorities.”

This MSM position is a master class in cognitive dissonance. Leo did not fare well as Health Minister. He was forced to row back on the key plank of the Government’s health reforms, Universal Health Insurance.

Far from preventing cuts to the Health budget, Leo consistently backed his own party on every single callous cut resulting in longer waiting lists, front line under-staffing and A & Es that do actually resemble battle fronts in third world countries.

All of his predecessors in Health also had lists of priorities. Reilly, Harney and Martin were not considered ‘competent’ simply because they had a ‘list’ of what they wanted to achieve.

That leaves only what’s described as Leo’s ‘Preempting’ of crises. Had James Reilly mooched around ambulances the weekend before a damning HIQA report came out he would have been rightly crucified by MSM for creating a self-serving photo opportunity to deflect from his own personal responsibility in creating the very crisis he was ‘preempting’.

There is no difference between what Leo does and a politician kissing babies in public whilst cutting children’s allowance in private.

As for his ‘preemptive’ nuanced, excellent speech in relation to abortion, rarely have we seen such blatantly cynical politicking. An issue that should have been about the rights of women was instead hijacked and spun by Leo to suit Leo’s favourite subject, Leo’s phantom largesse.

So absurd was Leo’s statement at the time, that Kenny distanced the party by rationalising it with a comfortable yet unbelievable illusion that Leo was speaking in a personal capacity and not as the Minister for Health as Leo claimed, a ploy repeated by Enda in regard to Ms Zappone’s activities.

In Social Protection Leo is a ghost, occasionally he issues a statement which is pounced upon by RTÉ where statements from other Ministers gain little if any purchase.

His comment that Maurice McCabe is a heroic whistle blower deserving of a full apology reaches a new low in self serving cynicism from a party that had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the Maurice McCabe debacle.

Leo, like Fine Gael, is not devious, skillful or cunning. It’s not that they don’t try, but the fact remains that like much of Fine Gael’s time in government they have proved to be no better than Fianna Fáil and they are a damn sight short of Fianna Fail’s ability to fool people for any meaningful length of time.

Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic


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50 thoughts on “He’s Not The Messiah

  1. Happy Molloy

    The MSM extract used is one when he was only 6 months in the job, not at the end of his reign, so I’m not too sure how that extract can be used to state the fawn over him despite “dismal” performance

    1. Ivor

      Vraddy talks and looks like a leader should – as far as the MSN is concerned. Oliver Callan has cleverly taken the piss out of how RTE treat him as though when he says the same thing or does the same thing as anyone else, it somehow demonstrates how he destined to be leader.

      In many ways, he’s the perfect candidate for the aspirational/upper middle class liberal. He’s as neoliberal as they come within FG (low taxation, privitisation where politically possible, bend over for multinationals etc.) but he sounds sincere when talking about the victims of our poor health or social protection policies (as though it’s all beyond his control) and he’s gay – so they can continue believing they’re progressive while supporting him. (Henceforth, I shall call this demographic Leoliberals).

      FG led by Vraddy will will be little different to FG as led by Enda Kenny or Michael Ring with regard to substance but it will be a Terry Prone wet dream come to life.

  2. Frilly Keane

    Leo’s getting a chance t’shine cause he’s doing boo-boo all but licking himself
    and having all day to it

    The biggest pothole in this Leadership duel is
    and NONE of ye have mentioned it
    here or on the telly last night/ this morning

    the potential outcome of TWO LEADERS in the same constituency

    I told ye on anudder thread yesterday that the Big Ticket Blueshirts are all the way with Coveney
    there is no other option for them

    sum’ting besides Enda is gotta give

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      Make my heart burst with pride. Micheál and Simon. Cork’s brightest and best.


        1. Frilly Keane

          just think
          we might be able ta’ get rid of Irelands Bawl ….

          Where we sported n’playyyyyeeeedddd
          neat’d’ greeennn leaffy shaaaaade……

  3. shitferbrains

    I imagine that Martin has little first hand knowledge of the third world or he wouldn’t use that lazy and inaccurate analogy.

    1. Kieran NYC

      “Mainstream Media”

      It’s a paranoid term used by the left and right fringes when the media doesn’t fawn over their particular point of view. So they create their own “truth”, like Breitbart.

        1. ____

          Ha! That was my first thought alright, but I thought the article wasn’t quite crazy enough to be pushing some sort of “gay conspiracy” agenda.

        1. Kieran NYC

          They are the way the undermine faith in traditional media and create their own fantasy land versions of “truth”.

  4. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    That is really badly written. There’s no flow to it: it’s just random thoughts flung at a page.

  5. ollie

    “MSM” means what exactly?
    While I’m at it, when the phrases “alternative facts” and “fake news” makes the dictionary I expect to see the RTE logo beside them

  6. Steve

    Lol – such insight. With gems like “everyone knows this except Taoiseach”. Course he f@&ing knows, he just being an awkward tool. Can I write a pro Leo piece please?

    The biggest case of cognitive dissonance in this country is the belief from the hard left and the soccies that they actually matter to the electorate at large. Toddle along there with your 2-3% first prefs. With Leo in we’re gonna be hitting the 30%s

    1. Martina

      What has Leo achieved in three departments at this point? Paternity leave is the only thing I can think of. He is the ultimate in style over substance but go ahead FG – you’ll slump even lower at the polls with him!

      1. Steph Pinker

        I’m paraphrasing here, but according to a commenter on the Journal.ie a few weeks’ ago, Varadkar is privatising the DSP: he has outsourced the DSP Jobspath scheme [which is the new Jobridge] to two private British companies; Turas Nua and Seetech [sic]. Apparently, these companies don’t offer any training or educational opportunities to long-term jobseekers, they just force people in to applying for jobs which the scheme operators/ supervisors deem suitable for the individuals in question; the companies also work on a percentage basis, so, the more people they force in to jobs, they lower the numbers on the live register, consequently, these private companies earn more as they have pre-determined quotas to meet for the DSP.

          1. Sam

            They don’t make much effort to match people with appropriate jobs. They are modelled on ATOS, the UK crowd, and have some link with them, along with a few Irish based directors to qualify for the contract.

        1. Otis Blue

          I don’t doubt that Varadker would be a fan of Jobpath but it was introduced by his predecessor Joan Burton. More interestingly, its introduction owed everything to the Troika who insisted on measures to address structural long term unemployed.

          The fees paid to Turas Nua and Seetech are staggered and depend on placements being sustained in employment over a two year period.

          It’s one to watch.

          1. Steph Pinker

            Thanks Otis,
            I am unaware of the workings of the DSP, but, if the commenter who posted the links is correct in his assertions, it raises a few questions. Firstly, why couldn’t the DSP use Irish companies to provide the same service; secondly, why are long-term unemployed people being forced to work in jobs which might not be suitable for them – it’s counter-productive as they could end up being back on Jobseekers’ Allowance within a few months because they’re not suited to the job they’ve been forced to take; thirdly, why not re-educate/ train/ up skill jobseekers in the areas of work they’ve already had careers/ experience in, or, why not encourage them to learn a new skill, or educate themselves in a more suitable area with more employment prospects; lastly, why not work with them? If, as you say, ‘The fees paid to Turas Nua and Seetech are staggered and depend on placements being sustained in employment’, then it should be in the interest of these companies to work with the unemployed in securing a job they like and enjoy doing, rather than forcing them to do a job they hate at the risk of losing their benefits – this last point also raises the question as to how/ what are the terms of payment to Seetech and Turas Nua per individual jobseeker, and the different companies associated with the Jobpath schemes who are providing the jobs.

            The Jobpath schemes last for a year at least, but the benefits of helping people find appropriate work will last for many years and it will outweigh the temporary fall in live register numbers, not to mention the difference it can make to the individuals themselves regarding their physical, mental and emotional health, and how they can potentially contribute to society, again. IMO, the thinking behind Jobspath is disingenuous and deliberately lacking in imagination and substance, but Varadkar knows that he has to be seen to be making a success of his current portfolio as he couldn’t bate a face on the health one. In the meantime, he’ll allow Enda a lap of honour, simply because he’ll expect the same venerable treatment should he ever find himself in a similar position. I agree, it’s definitely one to watch.

          2. Otis Blue

            Just a couple of comments by way of reply. DSP weren’t at all keen on this and Actually delayed its introduction. Again, it was a troika requirement as part of the bailout.

            Contracts were advertised on e-tenders and thus open to all, Irish or otherwise. Indeed, I recall Euan Blair, son of The ex PM being part of one of the UK consortia. Can’t recall which one offhand.

            For the record ‘Sons of the Soil’ will know of FRS – Farm Relief Services based in Roscrea – as one part of Turas Nua, one of the successful bidders.

            All in all it’s a type of Faustian pact. Unemployed numbers are manipulated – if yer on jobpath you’re in ‘activation’ and thus not counted as unemployed.

            From the perspective of the Jobpath companies like TN and Seetec the challenge is to milk the initial referral fees. The profit lies beyond this and thus the idea that any job will suffice.

            The obvious question, of course, is why such supports are not provided by DSP, or other parts of the Civil or Public Service. They’re all still in situ. There’s a simple reason for this. Anyone care to guess what it might be?

  7. Andy

    “Far from preventing cuts to the Health budget, Leo consistently backed his own party on every single callous cut resulting in longer waiting lists, front line under-staffing and A & Es that do actually resemble battle fronts in third world countries.”

    Says man who has obviously never been to the Third World let alone a battle front in the Third World.

    Christ. Awful.

  8. Kieran NYC

    “Far from preventing cuts to the Health budget, Leo consistently backed his own party on every single callous cut”

    I must be imagining that extra 500bn euro he got at the end of 2015 then.

    Is Martin a member of any political party?

      1. Kieran NYC

        You’ve been reduced to repeating stock lines and guessing my phone maker incorrectly.

        Thanks for playing. Have a participation trophy.

  9. Water Boy

    Only one problem with that analysis, there were no cuts when Varadkar was Minister for Health, the health budget increased in both 2015 and 2016, he became Minister in mid 2014 when the 2015 was being framed.

    Who writes this absolute Fake News?

  10. Diddy

    Does any of this change the fact that I haven’t got a pay increase in 12 years yet the price of rent and other consumer prices have doubled in some cases?

    Let’s talk about real life issues and vote anyone who does nothing about housing out. And anyone with a concrete plan of serious government intervention in. Roll on the election

  11. jimmy russell

    This article is dangerously homophobic, the author needs to be fired immediately and reported for hate speech

  12. Sulli

    With Olivia o Leary on bigging up an awful politician like Hayes it truly is a sad sad country this week – arrogant ,spiteful and incompetrnt thats the Irish body politic. We need a new kinda medicine .

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