This morning’s Irish Times tells us that Fine Gael and Labour have started their policy U-Turns with gusto, and not a little pathetically either.
Proposed state board chair-people can be questioned by an Oireachtas committee, but without the power of approval. Why not? Fine Gael and Labour talked about giving power from the executive to the legislature, yet here, their first test, what do they do? The exact same thing Fianna Fail would have done.
Vacancies on state boards will be quietly advertised on department websites. Sounds sensible? Really? Ask yourself this: If Noonan gets a cut in the interest rate from the IMF/EU, will he just quietly advertise the news on the DOF website?
But my favourite one is the announcement that it is “not possible” to remove state boards. Not possible? Why? Gravity? The laws of physics? If only we had some sort of elected legislature that could change laws. Or if something was “unconstitutional” (the ultimate lazy politicians refuge) could we not change this too, on the much ballyhooed “Constitution Day”?
Of course, you have to wonder, if such a thing is impossible to do, why did Fine Gael announce it before the election? Why did they not know? After all, they do have over 50 full-time parliamentary researchers. And it’s not like the question “Does anyone know a good lawyer?” needs to be asked at a Fine Gael meeting. Admittedly, it does get asked at Fianna Fail parliamentary party meetings, but that’s normally after receipt of a letter from Dublin Castle. Are the Blues so incompetent that they are literally making up policy on the hoof? Abolishing the Seanad? Drunk tanks? Oh, wait…
My favourite item in this whole affair is Brian Hayes’s response to those FF appointees. In what is becoming the standard answer from Fine Gael (as was given to Michael Lowry), the offenders are asked to resign, to “do the right thing” as the Blues look on moon-faced. Only Fine Gael could import the powerlessness of opposition into government. Is that going to be Brian Hayes’s role in the government, as a sort of shit superhero with feeble powers who runs around the country with his underpants outside his trousers “urging” evil-doers to “do the right thing”? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Corporal RightThing and his amazing powers of scowling in the window at people.
Maybe they should ask Fianna Fail to go over to the state boards and beat them up for them, so that they don’t tear their jumpers or scuff their knees? To think, this is the party of Michael Collins. But then, am I the only one who thinks that if Collins were alive today, he’d be in Fianna Fail?
As one looks at Fine Gael, one can’t help being reminded of the children’s toy Action Man: was very popular in the 1980s, has a penchant for dressing up in military uniforms, and like Action Man, hasn’t got any balls.