A Chip Off The Old Block


From top: Election literature from Fianna Fáil – later independent – councillor Paddy Madigan and from his daughter Josepha’s Fine Gael Local Election campaign in 2014

‘George Russell’ writes:

The high farce of Maria Bailey swing claim has brought focus on the previous shady dealings of her father, Councillor John Bailey, as reported in these pages.

Holding other politicians responsible, such as Charlie Flanagan, for the antics of their fathers – antisemitism in the case of Oliver J. Flanagan – would be unfair. But when we observe a continuity in attitudes and approaches across generations this is worthy of commentary.

Given Ireland’s tribal political allegiances, it may come as a surprise to learn that Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan is the daughter of a former Fianna Fáil councillor, the late Paddy Madigan, a Mayo-born solicitor who made his home in south Dublin, and later stood as an independent candidate.

Less surprising, perhaps, are the principles guiding Madigan Snr., a serial litigant, and campaigner.

His Irish Times obituary from 2014 recalls:

In 1994 he publicly wrote to then Taoiseach Albert Reynolds to resign from Fianna Fáil and stood successfully as an Independent opposing the residential property tax which he said Charles Haughey had promised him the party would abolish.

It was, he said at the time, “the most obnoxious tax ever levied on the Irish people”. In his Blackrock, County Dublin ward, he claimed, 80 per cent of homes were over the tax’s £75,000 threshold.

His earlier litigation over the issue had not succeeded, either in the High Court which ruled against him in November 1983, or the Supreme Court which likewise rejected his appeal the following November.

But he was successful in 1981 in challenging the constitutionality of the Rent Restrictions Act and freeing landlords significantly from the constraints of rent control.

That 1981 Supreme Court decision to declare rent controls unconstitutional has been instrumental in the inequitable wealth transfers from income earners to property owners over decades.

Historic resistance to property taxes, led by Madigan Snr and others, has also maintained these taxes at comparatively low levels, making ‘bricks and mortar’ the favoured investment for the upper middle class, to the enduring difficulty of renters who have contended with spiralling rents in overheated markets ever since.

According to David McWilliams, the richest 5% owns over 40% of national wealth, 85% of which is held in property and land. Last year just €500 million out of total tax receipts of approximately €50 billion, derived from land or property.

It is unclear the extent to which Josepha Madigan plays a direct role in framing the government’s housing policy – which is failing at a fundamental level over ten thousand homeless – but as a member of the cabinet she certainly shares collective responsibility for the government’s position.

The government’s entrenched sympathy with landlordism was set out by Eoghan Murphy in a speech to the Dáil last December:

“We have to be very careful in interfering more than we are at the moment. We have to make sure that we are not placing extra burdens on these small landlords.

And we have to make sure that we are not prohibiting someone from selling a property that they own when they might need to sell that property for perfectly legitimate reasons in their own lives.

They may not have the money to re-compensate the person living in the property at that point.”

Naturally, Josepha Madigan cannot be held responsible for her father’s historic role in preserving a virtually free hand for land owners, including the owners of multiple properties over decades, but her political career suggests a similar ideological resistance to interfering with property rights.

This would appear to extending to ensure that persons who might lower the price of property in a given neighbourhood are excluded.

In the 2016 General Election she successfully unseated her Fine Gael colleague – and long-time foe of Leo Varadkar – the former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, to become one of only three TDs for the new Dublin-Rathdown constituency.

Prior to this, as a Fine Gael councillor, Madigan had campaigned to deny Travellers accommodation in her ward.

Thus, the first paragraph of a 2014 leaflet issued in her name described a proposal to build Traveller accommodation on Mount Anville Hill and elsewhere, close to her constituency base, as ‘very concerning for those living in the area.’

Later paragraphs go on to claim the purchase would be a waste of money, advocating a cost-benefit analysis, and making vague reference to NAMA properties offering alternative sites.

Despite her denials, the document reveals Madigan as saying the presence of Travellers in the neighbourhood would, in and of itself, be “very concerning”, for reasons we all know but are unwilling to say, and which really have nothing to do with the cost to the council of the accommodation

Her Populist strategy may have been informed by the success of another former Fine Gael TD for the area, Olivia Mitchell, who, according to Victoria White, ‘made a career out of opposing Traveller accommodation.’

On October 10th 2015, a blaze swept through a halting site at nearby Carrickmines, in south Dublin causing eleven fatalities. It was the country’s worst such disaster since the Stardust fire in 1981.

In its wake, local residents from another south Dublin estate delayed construction on a temporary halting site earmarked to house the fifteen adult and children survivors of the inferno.

This led then Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly to comment: ‘It says an awful lot about Irish society and in a very disturbing way’. Politicians cannot be held responsible for all such attitudes, but they may legitimate their expression.

Kitty Holland described the state of Traveller accommodation around Dublin at the time:

‘On some sites, only one cold tap services eight or nine families; on another, 20 people share one toilet. Some sites are infested with rats, with children prone to infection, skin rashes and respiratory conditions.’

After a cabinet reshuffle in the wake of the resignation of Frances Fitzgerald as Minister for Justice in November, 2017, Josepha Madigan was appointed Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

In response Martin Collins, of the Traveller organisation Pavee Point commented: ‘Of course we would be concerned given her comments on Traveller halting sites a couple of years ago.’

Fairly or otherwise, Travellers are often depicted as a menace to settled communities, but the State recognises their separate ethnic identity and is committed to vindicating that nomadic existence.

The resistance of local councils to building suitable halting sites over decades, at the behest of numerous politicians, has brought squalid conditions that may explain anti-social behaviour, and brought the prospect of disasters such as Carrickmines.

The absurd Maria Bailey case is mostly a distraction from the ongoing negligence of this government, but it at least allow us to discuss the dynasties that operate at the heart of our political system, dominated by two, increasingly undifferentiated, parties.

Previously: Eamonn Kelly: Not Far from The Tree

49 thoughts on “A Chip Off The Old Block

          1. eoin

            Two young guys appear in court after being arrested for smoking dope.
            The judge says, “You seem like nice young men, and I’d like to give you a second chance instead of jail time. I want you to go out this weekend and try to convince others of the evils of drug use. I’ll see you back in court Monday.”
            On Monday, the judge asks the first guy, “How did you do over the weekend?”
            “Well, your honor, I persuaded 17 people to give up drugs forever.”
            “Seventeen people? That’s wonderful. How did you do it? ”
            “I used a diagram, your honor. I drew two circles like this: O o.
            Then I told them that the big circle is your brain before drugs and the small circle is your brain after drugs.”
            “That’s admirable,” says the judge.
            Then he turns to the second guy. “And how did you do?”
            “Well, your honor, I persuaded 156 people to give up drugs forever.”
            “Wow!” says the judge.
            “156 people! How did you manage to do that?”
            “Well, I used a similar diagram,” the guy says.
            “I drew two circles like this: o O.
            Then I pointed to the little circle and said, ‘This is your asshole before prison… ‘”

  1. phil

    Not usually a fan of Alan Kelly, but his comments above,have given me more to think about ….

    1. fergus the magic postman

      Stick to the first part of your sentence. He’s already exposed his true colours while in Government. He’s a snake.

    1. Liam

      Patrick married Patricia and then named their firstborn Patrick. After that they decided to go freestyle.

  2. Cian

    Interestingly, that site on Mount Anville Road is still derelict (according to the Google Maps images as of July 2018).

    1. Billy

      The derelict site in question was a Dun Laoghaire Rathdown county council yard. So you would think DLRCOCO would have been doubly negligent when it came to the Carrickmines fire.

      Also Interestingly, the lands adjacent to this Mount Anville site (Knockrabo) which was the former Bank of Ireland staff sports club (a massive site) was sold through NAMA and privately developed on by Maplewood Residential.
      A 3 bed starts at €740,000, a 5 bed €1,200,000. All houses in Phase 1 currently sale agreed. Boasting, according to the brochure ‘An Unparalleled Lifestyle’.

      One might have thought post banking crisis the sale of a banks asset in gigantic default to the tax payer would have been used in some way to pay back the tax payer. For say a huge affordable housing scheme.
      But no. It’s sold exclusively to the wealthiest in society.

      Fine Gael and their wealthy elite really do enjoy ‘An Unparalleled Lifestyle’.

  3. BS

    Funny how Bodger hasn’t posted anything about his hero GoD’s disgusting racist rant about Longford. Maybe she’s looking to set the stage for Ireland’s very own UKIP party.

    I see a milkshake in her future

    1. Jeffrey

      In fairness I think a lot of us got well screwed when it come to GoD … I was following her for a few years when there was none of that king of nonsense she sunk into recently. I have now cut all ties in term of Social Media, etc.. a past allegiance from someone does not mean an agreement of current behavior of followed person, think!

      1. BS

        In fairness her anti corruption investigative reporting was good. She now seems to have sunk into something really quite vile. Posting pictures of primary school kids saying “look at this, there’s hardly any white faces, this is your future” along with the whole anti vax malarkey she seems to have just gone full Farage/Morgan/what ever other far right lunatic you can think of

        1. Jeffrey

          I caught a few things recently and its totally bonkers. I think there is a clear attempt to do a bit of Trump/Ukip politics seeing that it is quite popular amongst a certain audience. On Facebook the replies are 100 times worse than the posts, raving tin-foil flat-earther lunatics

    2. fergus the magic postman

      She is a vile excuse for a human being. She cares not one bit about the danger she is putting children in, by posting their images on social media without consent from the parents. She then has the nerve to say something along the lines of “oh I don’t want to talk to you, you’re going to abuse me beside the house of God ” when confronted by one of the children’s mothers in Longford yesterday.
      She should be arrested.

      1. fergus the magic postman

        Actually, it would be great if Broadsheet could compile or cover some of her antics, which would serve as to demonstrate condemnation of said behavior, and also allow commentary from us readers in a more relevant post.

          1. Susan

            No. No they don’t love her. They backed the wrong horse-a simple mistake. Plenty of people supported her before she revealed her true colours. I take it you’ve never made a mistake way up there on yer high horse…

  4. rotide

    ” inequitable wealth transfers from income earners to property owners”

    Today I learned that the rent paid to landlords doesn’t qualify as income to the landlords for some reason?

  5. eoin

    Do you think RTE would do its job and scrutinise Josepha Madigan’s role in the Maria Bailey dodgy compo claim, if Josepha wasn’t the culture minister who has just given RTE a €4m a year bailout (from taxpayers money) to fund the orchestras? Also, won’t Josepha have an important role to play in the forthcoming (next few weeks) review of the licence fee, with RTE demanding an extra €30m a year (on top of the €180m it collects at the minute). No wonder they’re not pressing her about what she did and when, and not accepting “no comment” for an answer.

    1. Johnny

      With 350 million to play with and that incredibly opaque ‘film fund/guarantee’ thing most the insular,tribal wan*ers in the irish ‘arts’ world,including hacks are too busy kissing her ass.

      ‘The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, today (Tuesday) announced additional funding of over €36 million for her Department in 2019, an increase of 12% on 2018 allocations. In a welcome boost to the Irish audiovisual sector the minister also announced the intention to extend Section 481Irish Audiovisual Sector

      A new, time-limited, regional uplift of an additional 5 per cent in tax relief for audiovisual production outside of Dublin has been announced. This relief will taper out over 4 years.

      The increase in funding is comprised of €21 million in capital expenditure, an increase of 39% on 2018 funding and €15 million in current expenditure (6% increase) and will allow for total expenditure of some €339 million towards our culture, our language and our heritage in 2019.‘

      1. eoin

        Thanks Johnny, those hundreds of millions of our money spent on arts are always questionable because it’s difficult to assess artistic merit and there’s huge scope for sleaze and cronyism. The €4m a year orchestra bailout was all Josepha’s decision, no records apparently of any consideration by her, just a total acceptance of a report done for RTE by an ex-BBC consultant. And bang, there goes €4m a year.

        BTW, any news on Digicel results for the first three months of 2019, which is Digicel’s fourth quarter. They usually brief bondholders within two months of the quarter end, don’t they?

        1. Johnny

          Good morning Eoin,funny you should ask actually checked yesterday both Fitch/Moody’s and nothing-will keep an eye open.
          I refuse attend most ‘paddy whackery’ events in NY-but for variety reasons end up on the lists-you guys are funding a gala for yesterday’s man Clinton-like WTF let’s further normalize predatory behavior-I think Josephine if she can mug a homeless drag queen will be attending-I certainly wont and O’Brien is also rumored-FFS !
          Too risqué been seen in Dublin with him-huh.


    2. Cian

      Even if Josepha Madigan was involved in Maria Bailey’s dodgy claim – client/attorney privilege (legal advice privilege) makes your comment moot.

      1. eoin

        The substance of the advice might be privileged, the fact, whether or not Josepha Madigan provided advice isn’t.

        1. Cian

          What is the point then?
          If we don’t know if the advice was “don’t do it, it was your own fault” or “get every cent you can” then who gave the advice is moot.

      2. Johnny

        She has absolutely no background in the arts,as far as I know does not speak Irish,was a small time low rent family solicitor,working in Daddy’s practice.
        Generally I try avoid commenting on appearances,but she’s Arts or the visual minister,so in my opinion she looks most the time like a drag queen from a pub in Kilburn circa 1974.
        But FG gave her 350 million to play with,while she’s subject numerous lawsuits/litigation over financial transactions….

        1. Cian

          You aren’t wrong. But that is a feature of our Republic.

          Almost all ministers we have had since the founding of the State knew nothing of their chosen departments.

          Perhaps we should have a referendum to change our structure more like France/USA?? Were we elect a President that can hand-pick ‘experts’ to run each department?

          1. Johnny

            Cian any idea if she’s first non irish speaking Min for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht,it’s a bit ‘irish’ to have a plumy Mount Anvil type as minister for a ‘irish’ depart,given she does not speak the language-certainly would not happen in Canada-fairly sure the minister looking out for French speakers is actually fluent in it!

        2. rotide

          CJ had no background in the arts and arguably he is that sectors greatest benefactor (in an entirely non corrupt manner).

          I’m no fan of his but IIRC the artistic tax exemption was him and the very first film production tax breaks which lead to section 481 was also his govt.

      3. GiggidyGoo

        Forget the ‘even if’- that’s the beginning of the usual FG Apologists sentence.

  6. Kevin Higgins

    There is also the small matter of the death of an elderly woman in the fire-trap of bedsits in one of the houses Paddy owned on Raglan Road

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