Sinn Féin unhappy that Tánaiste ‘faced no sanction nor had he given a credible account for his actions’
YEARS ago, an eminent but somewhat linguistically-deficient Cork politician achieved fame on account of his difficulty in pronouncing the words ‘frustration’ and ‘frustrated’. He said them in such a way that they sounded like ‘frusteration’ and ‘frusterated’ which, when he uttered them, had his listeners in stitches.
The mispronounced words now deserve a new lease of life thanks to the flak Mickey Martin is receiving over his handling of the doctors’ wages controversy, courtesy of Leo Varadkar.
Because ‘frusterating’ it must be for Mickey as he tries to put a lid on the damaging row relating to a gift that his coalition comrade, Fine Gael’s Vlad Varadkar, made to the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP).
The ‘gift’ consisted of details of a top secret, GP contract that had just been agreed to by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO). Needless to say, it was of paramount interest to that union’s rivals, the NAGP.
On discovery of the shenanigans, Sinn Féin tabled a motion of no-confidence in Tánaiste Varadkar. They did so on the basis that the ‘tip-off’ at high government level was a prime example of ‘obnoxious politics’.
The party leader, Mary Lou McDonald, asserted that Varadkar’s disclosure of confidential details in a negotiated contract was a disgrace and that he ‘faced no sanction nor had he given a credible account for his actions.’ (Curiously, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil seemed somewhat indifferent to the exotic carry-on regarding pay contracts for medics, and stayed out of the controversy).
A wink and a nod
But, as far as Sinn Féin was concerned, the incident was a perfect example of the way politics worked in this country: ‘the wink and nod among insiders, the cosy clubs, the old boys’ network and claustrophobic politics – all of which, in the area of Health, left people with a substandard service! Such behaviour undermined the public’s confidence in politics,’ said Ms MacDonald.
She defended her ‘no confidence’ motion on the basis that ‘the Opposition cannot sit idly by and let this happen.’
The response from Fianna Fáil, past masters in such antics, was bizarre. Barry Cowen TD declared the SF motion to be ‘a waste of valuable Dáil time,’ while his comrade, Richard Bruton TD (FG), dismissed it as an example of ‘narrow tribal politics just when people were struggling with Covid and Brexit.’
The Labour Party (Gawd Bless It) grudgingly agreed to support the motion while spluttering something about ‘bigger issues and priorities for discussion.’
Almost immediately, the controversy developed a somewhat ominous undercurrent when Fianna Fáil patrician and member of the Soldiers-of-Destiny nobility, Marc MacSharry, harshly criticised his leader, Mickey.
As he saw it, FF party leaders had constructed a ring fence ‘to protect the sacred cow – Leo Varadkar’! Wow! Varadkar a sacred cow, although in this case the term (presumably) suggested that Varadkar was exempt from Fianna Fáil criticism.
A shocked Mickey Martin responded with the comment that MacSharry’s tone was very personal.
To which MacSharry responded: ‘If the Taoiseach could not take the criticism, he should not be leading the party.’ And, he followed that up by blaming Our Mickey for Fianna Fáil’s dreadful performance in the polls.
Oh, and MacSharry also got in the dig of Cowen having to resign from his job of Minister for Agriculture over a traffic offence, implying that Martin had been particularly hard on him.
Gasps all round, along with discreet nods of approval; all of which led to speculation that the criticism from another fault-finder, Jim O’Callaghan, was tactical and that said gent was positioning himself for Mickey’s job.
Nor did it go unnoticed that while Martin was giving his backing to his coalition partner, Leo Varadkar, O’Callaghan stuck to his guns – namely that the sending of confidential Government documents to an ‘unauthorised’ person was wrong.
To make matters worse, Barry Cowen dragged up the sorry tale of having to resign as Minister for Agriculture after Mickey discovered that Cowen once had been hit with a three-month disqualification from driving.
The not irrelevant point was made that, whereas prominent members of Fianna Fáil were demoted because of traffic offences, there were no sanctions on Vlad, even though he had revealed to his medical mates confidential information on future pay and conditions for doctors.
‘Why didn’t Varadkar apologise and say that what he did was wrong?’ was the swipe thrown at Our Mickey.
And, if things weren’t bad enough, the Sinn Féin finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, drew attention to Vlad’s ‘tone deafness’ just when pay increases for TDs were under consideration. He told RTÉ radio that ‘TDs were being paid over €90,000 while ten special advisers on a salary of €67,000 each were being appointed.
‘Between the three party leaders, there are 17 advisors, and that’s before you count media people. Sinn Féin was not saying there shouldn’t be special advisers, but there did not need to be so many.’ Serious stuff!
On the road
Those people using the Cork-Limerick Road dice with death. According to HSE figures, ambulances are called to accidents once every week on average. ‘It’s a very dangerous road,’ say local politicos, but now plans for a motorway, the M20, are in the pipeline and it is hoped that, by 2023, a proposed route and design will have come before An Bord Pleanála.
A best-case scenario for a completion date is 2027. But the Greenies already are girding their loins for a raft of objections.
Indeed, Greenie-in-chief, Eamo’ Ryan thinks the proposed motorway makes no sense. Rather than developing roads, investment should be in public transport, said the Dubliner.
Which, of course, will include use of the ‘high-nelly,’ hitch-hiking, walking, air balloons, roller-skates, space transport and, of course, the traditional donkey and cart. The Greenies: dontcha love ‘em!
So-called spit hoods are used by An Garda Síochána to deal with people who spit or cough at members of the force.
Basically they are full hoods placed over a person’s head and already the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has stated that human rights law on torture means that their use can never be acceptable.
Which, of course, will wipe out some awful jokes. Such as the Garda warning given to spitting suspects: ‘You’ve gob to stop!’
Or the one about spit hoods being donated to the Salivation Army!
Or, ‘I spat gum onto a wall – and now it’s stucco!’
(That’s disgusting! You’re fired – Ed)