EVERY WEEK, TheJournal.ie casts its eye over events inside and outside Leinster House that have got people talking.
As the saying goes: ‘You win some, you lose some.’
So here are our political winners and losers from the past seven days:
The 5 winners of the week are…
Unemployment is down and its poll rating is up. The Labour national conference was a more positive place than might have been expected this weekend.
The party has taken some tough hits over the last two-and-a-half years, but as members and delegates gathered in Killarney this weekend there was a justified sense that the corner is being turned.
Though as one delegate’s call for Eamon Gilmore to resign shows there is still a long way to go and the key test of sentiment towards Labour will be in next year’s local and European elections.
2. Richard Bruton
Even the government was surprised at the scale of the unemployment drop this week with some 58,000 jobs added in the last year, according to CSO figures.
It was a good news story that didn’t need spinning and credit where credit is due to the Jobs Minister whose Action Plan for Jobs is heavy on the spin, and not always delivering, but is showing some tangible signs of having had an effect.
3. The Technical Group
While the deal to abolish the promissory note was heavy on positivity earlier this year, the Technical Group’s motion before the Dáil this week importantly pointed out that we’re still paying back the money and the bondholders are still unburned.
There was little coverage of the Dáil debate and apparently little interest among government ministers in the Ballyhea movement but that doesn’t mean it’s not an issue worth raising so credit to those who were part of the motion this week.
4. Shane Ross
It’s been another good week for the Public Accounts Committee, but the independent TD for Dublin South led the way on the Central Remedial Clinic scandal this week with his probing of HSE director general Tony O’Brien. This eventually led the CRC to admit that it has been using charitable funds to top-up the salaries of senior staff.
Just as he and Nick Webb led the way on FÁS, Ross has once again demonstrated his ability to uncover great scandals in State-funded bodies, demonstrating how TDs really can do the State some service.
5. The Healy-Raes
A one-off special has potentially led to a whole series as TV3 confirmed they are in discussions with Michael and co to expand on the documentary and follow the lives of the famous Kerrymen on a regular basis.
… and the 6 losers of the week are…
1. Sinn Féin
The party’s two leading lights, Pearse Doherty and Mary Lou McDonald, have spent the latter part of this week defending their leader Gerry Adams in the wake of comments by Micheál Martin about the handling of abuse allegations in the Republican movement.
While the Fianna Fáil leader did engage in a degree of political opportunism there is no doubt that Sinn Féin’s ongoing requirement to address claims about its past, and that of its president, will impact on people’s perception of the party.
2. University senators
Enda Kenny has pulled off the remarkable feat of delivering some Seanad reform while at the same time giving two fingers to certain senators who have sought to undermine him in the past.
Among them are Trinity senator Sean Barrett who has previously said the Taoiseach should resign and, along with other university senators, faces a battle to retain his seat when the electorate is massively expanded by the extension of the franchise to all third-level degree holders.
3. Mary Hanafin
The former Fianna Fáil minister gave a revealing interview to TG4 this week about the possibility of a return to politics, but she did herself no favours in being downright mean towards the Green Party, saying her former coalition partners are “not a political party”. Ouch.
4. Silvio Berlusconi
This may well be the last we see of the former Italian prime minister as he was booted out of the Italian parliament this week off the back of his conviction for tax fraud. He has vowed to “fight on” but has Italy had enough of the world’s most famous Bunga Bunga practitioner.
5. The Scottish Government
There is literally no downside to Scotland gaining independence from the UK, according to the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and his party, the SNP, which this week unveiled a ‘white paper’ fleshing out how independence would work.
But the paper, 670 pages of it, was rightfully called out by many for being light on the mechanics of certain issues. Scotland would retain the sterling and would join the European Union, but would the Bank of England and the EU consent to those decisions? No one is certain, except Salmond and the SNP of course.
6. Jim Daly
The Fine Gael TD did himself no favours in telling the Dáil that Santa doesn’t exist this week and the government rightfully distanced itself from his comments. Thankfully the Cork South West deputy has withdrawn his remarks in a scramble to ensure he is back on the good list in time for Christmas.
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