Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

“Eamon Ryan’s sleep-in 💤 wasn’t a mortal sin” – Gene Kerrigan returns us to the Dublin Government’s real world – First on the agenda : gut low-paid workers

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Reviewing a week in the so-far short life of the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green/Gombeen (FFFGGG) government readers may have missed some interesting details. Twenty mini-ministers are behaving worse than piglets at a trough. RTÉ News did not notice a connection between human events at the Dáil (Leinster House and the Convention Centre) – and piglet events at a midlands farm.

The village of Moyne in Co Longford is celebrating the arrival of 20 piglets to a first-time mother. The bumper delivery is believed to be one of the highest ever recorded in the area. https://www.rte.ie/news/leinster/2020/0718/1154128-piglets-longford/

Only 16 of the Longford piglets out of 20 can feed from the mother. Special arrangements are needed for the remaining four.

In Leinster House three piglet mini-ministers out of 20 are demanding improved feeding facilities – even though they slurp from the same source as their colleagues.

One of the Government’s immediate priorities will be to rush through legislation to ensure that each of the super-juniors will be entitled to an extra €16,288 a year on top of the junior rate. This is not a joke.

– Gene Kerrigan

16 Piglets in Longford offer ecological example to Leinster House mini-ministers (especially Greens)
Green Party Leader Éamon Ryan

Eamon Ryan’s sleep-in 💤 wasn’t a mortal sin. In another life, I spent many an hour crouched on the Dáil press gallery. It can be difficult to listen to that stuff and stay awake. Ryan was one of at least two TDs seen sleeping during Thursday’s proceedings. – Gene Kerrigan

Gene Kerrigan’s complete article, July 20 2020 :

SO, we’ve taken a hiding from a disaster we didn’t see coming, but it’s okay. The political parties assure us that we’re “all in this together”.

Fianna Fail and the Green Party will guide us safely through this misfortune, with the patriotic backing of Fine Gael.

I’ve already seen this movie. It’s called 2008, and it doesn’t end well.

There are two aspects to analysing what’s about to happen. First, we need to assess how the politicians have performed lately (sighs deeply, looks heavenward, asks a merciful God to give me strength).

Then, we need to anticipate what the major long-term effects on us will be.

Politics, after all, is about the effects of political decisions on the mass of the people. It’s not about the transient fortunes of interchangeable professional handshakers. The election was on February 8. The Government was finally formed on June 27. That’s 139 days of amateur dramatics. Time squandered in the middle of a pandemic, arguing about how they’d share out the big jobs.

They also had to create some smaller jobs, to placate the people who were disappointed that they didn’t get big jobs. This involved quietly expanding the Cabinet, to fit in all the people who need to be allocated jobs that will adequately inflate their pensions. They’ve done this by creating three “super-junior” positions, so three of the little kids can sit at the big kids’ table.

One of the Government’s immediate priorities will be to rush through legislation to ensure that each of the super-juniors will be entitled to an extra €16,288 a year on top of the junior rate. This is not a joke. Mind you, talents such as Hildegarde Naughton, Pippa Hackett and the boy Jack don’t come cheap. Then, they had to negotiate how many staff officers and special advisers each of the biggest of the big jobbers can have.

Micheal Martin negotiated himself a chief of staff (I’ve told you before — one of the major problems with Irish politics is that these people spend too much time re-watching their box sets of The West Wing, imagining themselves as Martin Sheen). Then, since the Taoiseach’s chief of staff will need a day off, we have to have a deputy chief of staff. Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar was quick off the mark. If Micheal Martin could have a chief of staff, Mr Varadkar decided he was entitled to an aide-de-camp — an army officer to hold an umbrella over his head on rainy days out. No word yet on a deputy aide-de-camp. Sorry, I’m not up to speed on Simon Coveney and his Garda driver, but I’m sure it’s all worked out fine. You can see how all of this would take 139 days to negotiate.

With time added on for all the whinging and moaning of the losers.

They’ve not definitively informed us whether Green Party leader Eamon Ryan will have four special advisers or five. One of them, I’m told, will specialise in creeping up behind Eamon and barking in his ear to wake him up (my unreliable sources also tell me Jack Chambers offered to do the job as a nixer but they couldn’t agree on a rate).

Eamon Ryan’s sleep-in 💤 wasn’t a mortal sin. In another life, I spent many an hour crouched on the Dail press gallery. It can be difficult to listen to that stuff and stay awake. Ryan was one of at least two TDs seen sleeping during Thursday’s proceedings.

Anyway, some of us believe that a sleeping Eamon Ryan is preferable to one who is awake and thinking up novelties, such as importing wolves to roam the countryside, while we all grow veggies on our windowsills. We could spend hours ruminating about the Barry Cowen farce, but I’d rather not. The whole thing can be summed up in two facts.

One: FF, FG, the Greens and Labour voted against providing Dail time to TDs to allow them question Cowen about the details behind his drink-driving offence.

Two: Micheal Martin sacked Cowen for not providing details behind his drink-driving offence. Hmm.

The details behind the offence were not important enough to allow Dail time to establish them. But they were important enough to sack a newly appointed minister. On this amateurish performance, I’m quite happy to see Cowen out of public office; what bothers me is his fellow clowns remaining in charge of the show. What’s the new Government planning to do to us? There was an unmissable signal in last week’s mess. While we were all laughing at The Snoozer Ryan, he and his buddies were voting down a significant motion. This episode told us what to expect as this Government goes about its work.

In 2008, as we faced economic collapse, we were told we were all in this together. True enough, up to a point. Those benefiting most from the norm didn’t mind taking a hit amid the general austerity, as long the inherent unfairness was preserved. I remember writing during that period that having a job with a good income meant I was having a relatively easy period of austerity; meanwhile, the people with the big bucks consolidated their position and prospered. Those who could be easily shafted, were. In the dozen years since then, government policy created record numbers of millionaires, while working conditions worsened for many. Again, in this current crisis, we’re “all in this together”. And the FF/FG aim will again be to restore “normality”, complete with every inherent unfairness.

Then, as now, ministers surrounded themselves with “advisers”, to wake them up if they fall asleep on the job. The pay cap for advisers was €92k. Ministers fought doggedly against this. One adviser was hired at €127k, then got a new title and went up to €144k. He was advising on how to impose austerity.

Last week, Gary Gannon, of the Social Democrats, introduced a motion aimed at protecting low-paid workers. It said that Dail Eireann “recognises … the structural problem of low pay … the precarious nature of many jobs, resulting in many workers being dependent on welfare support … the lack of entitlement to basic protections … the increasing casualisation of work, with uncertainty about hours and days of work … the need for a clear pathway to the living wage…”Fianna Fail, with the okay of FG, put down an amendment deleting all words after “Dail Eireann”. They substituted a token “acknowledgement” of the “essential work” done, gutting the motion. When they woke him, The Snoozer Ryan quickly voted to shoot down Gannon’s motion. Let them eat greens.

After all the crap about how much we value the “essential workers” who staff the food chain and who deliver what we need when we’re too scared to go out, those who clean away the virus so we can go into stores and hospitals, the transport workers and the medics… well, let’s have another round of applause. Meanwhile, the FF Taoiseach was warning us: “I will not mince around or do the popular thing.” When generals boast about not doing “the popular thing” it’s a tipoff that the poor bloody infantry is about to take another pounding, while the special people are protected.

Meanwhile, according to my unreliable sources,

Leo Varadkar has been standing in front of a mirror, practising how to flip his jacket up and on to his shoulders, just like Martin Sheen used to do in The West Wing.

‘You can see how all of this would take 139 days to negotiate’

https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/first-on-the-agenda-gut-low-paid-workers-39379042.html

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