Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 
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There’s cool. Then there’s Alan Rickman.

Posted by Jason O on Jul 10, 2013 in Just stuff

 
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What Irish polls actually mean.

Posted by Jason O on Jul 8, 2013 in Irish Politics

The recent Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll put the parties at the following levels of support: FF 29%, FG 26%, SF 19%, Independents 19%, Lab 8%.

There then followed the usual Irish political bunfight “GAA my county is up/yours is down! Yahoo!” analysis, which is great gas and all, but means little other than to partisan political hacks who regard winning as the main reason for being in politics.

So, for the benefit of people who have to live in this country, and are affected by its politics, what does this poll actually tell us?

It tells us that support for political values in the country is as follows:

Conservative minimum change “Don’t be annoying them fellas from the Troika, they’ve got that super duper credit card” parties: 55%

Vaguely leftish minimum change “Pretend to scowl at the Troika,  but sneak in the back door and have dinner with them later. They know their way around a wine list, as I said to Sebastian yesterday” party: 8%

Vaguely leftish pretending to be much more left wing could be scary and have a  few scores to settle with the Guards when in power party: 19%

My Parish First, F**k the rest of ye, banking regulation and all that stuff never put a roof on a GAA club in Belmullet independents: 19%

In other words, there’s nothing to see here.

 
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A Matter of Honour.

Posted by Jason O on Jul 6, 2013 in Irish Politics

You don’t hear the word “honour” used much in Irish politics. This is probably to do with the reality that it’s a rare occasion when it is needed. Trevor Sargent, who turned down a cabinet position in 2007 on principle, deserved to be called honourable, as indeed did Roisin Shortall and the late Frank Cluskey. In Fianna Fail’s case, you would have to go all the way back to Kevin Boland, who resigned in sympathy with Charlie Haughey, an act I suspect Haughey would not have reciprocated. It should also be noted that the electorate are rarely grateful: both Boland and Sargent went on to lose their seats.

In short, it is rare to see an Irish politician reject ministerial office not because rejection is forced upon them, but because they put a political ideal or policy, and fidelity to it, ahead of remaining in office for the sake of it.

I do not agree with Lucinda Creighton on abortion. I agree with her on other things, especially Europe, but I disagree on this. Yet if she chooses to resign her ministerial office over this, I can’t help but admire her greatly for it. There’s a ugliness abroad in Irish politics where we cannot separate the person from the policy, and struggle to recognise that one’s political opponents are not morally inferior for not sharing one’s position. It results in TDs being sent threatening letters and posters being torched, and that’s no way for a rational, democratic society to deal with issues.

The alternative is politicians like Lucinda Creighton and others, on both sides of this issue, who stood on a platform, and now stick to it, putting the elected platform ahead of the baubles of political office.

By the way, this whole affair demonstrates the shocking lack of imagination at the heart of Irish politics: why can’t we have, on both this issue and the Seanad, a preferendum, where the people can choose from a number of options? It’s not like it would be unconstitutional, and would avoid this whole ding-dong in the first place.

If Lucinda Creighton resigns over this issue, both pro-lifers and pro-choicers should applaud her. Because, as Des O’Malley said in his noted speech on the Fitzgerald coalition’s proposals on contraception reform (what is our obsession with reproductive issues?):

“The politics of this would be very easy. The politics would be, to be one of the lads, the safest way in Ireland. But I do not believe that the interests of this state, of our constitution and of this republic, would be served by putting politics before conscience in regard to this.”

By standing by her own socially conservative values, values that I personally disagree with, Lucinda Creighton has chosen to not be one of the lads, and instead is standing by the values of our republic, and should be applauded for that.

 
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Would a 10 year Dail term help?

Posted by Jason O on Jul 3, 2013 in Irish Politics

A lot, possibly the majority, of Irish political discourse is theatrical waffle. Take, for example, the last general election in 2011. In it, we ousted the sitting government, and replaced them with a coalition that promised many diametrically opposed policies. Following the election, we found ourselves in a situation where parties swapped sides of the house, but the policies remained in place. The new government adopted Fianna Fáil policies, and Fianna Fail started advocating policies which are pretty much a variation of what Fine Gael and Labour allegedly believed when they weren’t in government.

In short, it makes you wonder what the point of actually holding the election actually was? The answer, of course, was revenge. We got to kick the shit out of a load of Fianna Fáil ministers and destroy their careers. Now, as a sport that’s fair enough. But did it contribute in any way to the better governing of the country? You’d have to be skeptical. But supposing if Fianna Fáil were still in government even now?

Supposing the Dail was elected for 10 year terms, and Fianna Fáil were still in power, trying to fix what happened on their watch? Would we be better or worse off? I’m not sure. Certainly, a longer term would mean that either FF were forced to fix stuff, or that FG and Labour, if there was an election, would have a good ten years to fix FF’s mess, with time to “front-load” all the really painful stuff.

In a way, trapping FF in government, forcing them to do all the really hard stuff, and watching their poll rating dwindle to Labour levels would be almost like a form of political Chinese water torture. Could be good for a laugh, and certainly more poetically just than watching them recover by denouncing their own policies. Of course, the downside would be that Labour would be still in opposition and reaching explosive levels of sanctimonious indignity. Gilmore for Taoiseach? It’d be Gilmore for Emperor by now.

Either way, it does raise a question: would there be much of a downside if general elections were much further apart? Given the general uselessness of  the Oireachtas, the answer is probably not.

The only people who would really have their noses out of joint would be aspiring political hacks.

Copyright © 2018 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.