02 November 2008

Government rolls out another lame Apologist

Since both Houses of the Oireachtas (Ireland's parliament) returned from their over-extended summer holidays, the government has been immensely nervous, and rightly so. First they lost the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in June, and then they realised that the carefree cowboy policies with which they ruled Ireland for a decade of economic boom and great wealth creation have led to exactly the opposite end of the spectrum: a bust, economic recession and general poverty.

Well, that's what happens if one lets cowboys run the country and the economy, instead of letting them do what they are qualified for: looking after cows.

The 2009 Budget was brought forward, in order to give the general public the impression that 'something is being done' by the government to tackle the crisis, and simultaneously Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea (left) got an extra job. He was rolled out frequently as unofficial official spokesman of the besieged government, appeared several times on various RTÉ radio and TV programmes and gave a number of briefings for the media, on subjects unrelated to the Department of Defence. (see my entry of October 16th)

Since yesterday the Minister for defending the Indefensible - as I see him - is no longer alone on the battered ramparts of Government Buildings. To support O'Dea in his difficult new duty, the government has rolled out another lame apologist.

Senator Déirdre de Búrca (right), one of the two Green Party members appointed by Bertie Ahern to Seanad Éireann when the Greens joined the government coalition in June 2007, appeared on yesterday's Saturday View on RTÉ Radio 1 as the official government representative.

This is quite an unusual move, and one has to wonder what it means that in a time like this, when Ireland is in economic recession and the coalition government is facing the greatest loss of confidence any Irish government in living memory has experienced, a humble Senator with only 16 months of experience - and a member of the junior party in government - is sent out to defend the embattled administration.

Where is the Taoiseach? Where is the Tánaiste? And where are the senior Cabinet ministers?

Apart from their occasional appearance in Leinster House, they are nowhere to be seen or heard since Finance Minister Brian Lenihan spent about 45 minutes on Pat Kenny's RTÉ Radio 1 morning programme on October 15th, the day after he introduced his first Budget in the Dáil.

This complete absence of senior politicians from the public eye and from the media in a crisis like this is nothing but plain cowardice. The Taoiseach and his ministers know only too well that they are grasping at straws and that they are currently more unpopular than the plague.
So all they can think of is going into hiding and sending party cannon fodder out into the battles with the media.

On yesterday's programme Déirdre de Búrca, a psychologist who was for a while a Councillor for the Green Party on Wicklow County Council, did not say one word that changed the people's opinion of the government.
As expected, she was entirely apologetic and uncritical, and if one had not known better, one could have mistaken her for a typical Fianna Fáil party apparatchik. She also displayed a degree of arrogance in the discussion - especially with Fine Gael TD Dr. Leo Varadkar, the man called "a Fascist" by Fianna Fáil junior minister Conor Lenihan in the Dáil last week - which demonstrates her political inexperience. But Saturday View's presenter Rodney Rice (above left) put her well into her place and made sure that a proper and civilised discussion could take place.

It appears that Senator de Búrca expected to be given a 'free run' on the programme, making her memorised statements on behalf of the government without being challenged, attacked and cross-examined by the opposition.
Either she lives indeed - like many Green politicians - on an entirely different planet than the rest of us, or she has during her 16 months in the Seanad mutated into a little tinpot manipulator, a tendency also visible in the two Green Cabinet ministers, who are defending the government's indefensible positions lately more vigorous than anyone from Fianna Fáil.

It is amazing what a little bit of power can do to a once perfectly sound, honest and very sensible person. And it is sad to see the Green Party losing all its credibility, built up over 25 long years of political struggle, in little more than a year in government.

The Emerald Islander


Anonymous said...

Leave the cowboys to tend the cows? Now that's funny.


Thank you. :) Glad you like my subtle sense of humour. Without it politics would be rather unbearable.

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