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OPINION: Empty ballot box metaphor for a vacuous government?

December 9th, 2019 11:40 AM

By Southern Star Team

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THE drama in the count centre said it all. Following the by-election in Cork North Central, someone opened the ballot box for Bishopstown (of all places!) and, to their shock-horror, not a single constituent had bothered to vote. The box was empty!

It was a large box which had seen better election days but now it lacked purpose and relevance which, in itself, was a sort of  metaphor for the vacant, blank, void and vacuous Fine Gael government that governs us.

Of course, neither did the location of the polling centre make sense. It was in a woody, fragrant suburb on the southside, miles away far from the proletarian dogsbody that is Cork North Central, with all its economic and social problems.

The explanation as to why there was a polling centre on the southside to elect politicos in the northside had a strange logic about it. A balls-up had been made of the city boundary extension which had dumped part of Bishopstown (South Central) into the North Central electoral area.

Nothing underhand

Importantly, only a small number of voters were affected, so nobody considered it worthwhile to rectify the anomaly. Yerrah! Why bother?  Which, in these days of fake Dáil attendance and fake Dáil voting made perfect sense!

But, we’re pleased to say that there was no serious irregularity to explain Fine Gael’s failure to secure seats in the four by-elections, and of being beaten into third place in Cork by Sinn Féin. Certainly not!

In Dublin Mid-West, Sinn Fein’s Mark Ward neutralised the efforts of the government’s loyal troops. In Dublin Fingal, Joe O’Brien won the Green Party’s first ever by-election while in Cork North Central and Wexford Fianna Fáil emphatically crushed Blueshirt aspirations.

Sadly, however, we must commiserate with the great Fine Gael leader, Vlad the Impaler, who had been confident his government would win at least one seat out of four, but ended up with nothing. In Fingal, FG came fourth, second place in Dublin Mid-West and third place in Wexford! A disaster!

Inevitably, questions will be asked about his loyal sidekick, Colm Burke, and the party’s performance in Cork North Central. Although a senator and one of Cork’s senior political figures, Burke was smashed into third place – which did not inspire confidence in his possible future as a TD for the area.

Nor should we forget that at the centre of the hoopla was the lingering stench of fake FG attendance in the Dáil, fake FG voting practices, fake Blueshirt indignation at quasi-racist opinions on refugees and, of course, Deputy Dara Murphy’s absenteeism from the Dáil, which was not fake at all.

Although elected as a TD for the Northside, Murphy has been working with the European People’s Party (EPP) since 2017.

Role model?

All of which surprised his constituents who believed his absences from Spangle Hill and other parts of the constituency had something to do with his discreet way of securing the auld medical card and other benefits.

Indeed, in a statement, he put the record straight: at all times he had been compliant with attendance rules in Dáil Éireann and, as a TD, he was not precluded from having another occupation (that of EPP European Elections campaign manager).  What’s more, he always ‘remained in the political environment.’

And, as the world now knows, Murphy had not been idle. Even though critics cruelly asserted he had one of the lowest attendance records in Leinster House, he laboured in Europe on behalf of Europe and on behalf of his constituents up in Knocka. Thankfully, his good work did not affect in any way receipt of his full €96,000 Dáil salary.

Of course he was grateful to Fine Gael for supporting him while abroad but, oddly, he kinda omitted thanking his constituents, which prompted some Northside Bolsheviks to suggest that Murphy should have resigned his seat when he took on the terribly important job in Europe.

It didn’t deter Sinn Féin from shoving in the knife. Cllr Thomas Gould, commented:  ‘I would be very slow to make personal comments of any type, but the point is Dara Murphy has been missing for two years.  He and Fine Gael have treated the people of North Central with contempt’!

Costa packet

An now for something different: It cost us €11 million to ensure that nothing  injurious happened to President Donald Trump’s delicate state of mind during his visit to Ireland last June.

Thankfully, protecting US vice-President, Mike Pence the following September didn’t cost as much: just a modest €3m. The cash went on salaries, wages, allowances, travel, subsistence and ‘incidental expenses.’

Back in 2011, we forked out €24m to protect Brenda (Queen Elizabeth II) and, in July 2018, €300,000 to entertain Prince Harry, plus his popular mot, the lovely Meghan Markle.

Regina’s munificence

Oh, and it’s nice to know that not all the State’s lolly goes on ‘bleddy’ foreigners.  For instance, Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty, recently managed to negotiate an enhanced pay deal for one of her spin doctors.  To which we say good luck to her, and him. (Cabinet ministers have the right to appoint two ‘special advisers’, one to cover policy and another to look after press and media),

Regina’s lucky chap now trousers an attractive €107,109, which is more than that earned by other special government advisers. So how does she do it when advisers appointed during Vlad’s reign are on salaries of between €79,000 and €98,000?

Charm, perhaps?

Jermey’s problem

For months, the British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been accused of anti-Semitism. Some of the nastiest attacks have come from within his party even though a parliamentary home affairs committee found ‘no reliable, empirical evidence’ to suggest that Labour had more of an anti-Semitism problem than any other political party.

Central to the extraordinary targeting of Corbyn is his support for the Palestinian cause, his opposition to imperial wars and his endorsement of  third-world liberation movements.

But his support for the Palestinians and his criticism of brutal Israeli policies have led to a conspiracy to destroy him. The strategy the plotters use is the depiction of Corbyn as an anti-Semite and the intention is to make sure he never forms a government. Politically, they want to destroy him.

As letters to this newspaper attest, there is a deliberate and malevolent identification of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. In Corbyn’s case, the lowest point (the sewer level) was reached last week when he was accused of mis-pronouncing Jeffrey Epstein’s name in order to make the convicted sex offender sound more Jewish!

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