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…
1. Lucinda Creighton
The former minister has been kicking up a right fuss about political parties taking funding ‘in her name’. At the moment parties claim allowances for TDs and Senators who have left or been expelled from the parliamentary team, leaving the likes of Creighton and former government colleague Roisin Shortall at a siginficant disadvantage to those TDs who were elected as independents. Creighton described the money as “top-ups” funded by the taxpayer to the tune of €600,000. It’s a smart way of characterising it to bring it to the public’s attention, but the government is not proposing to do anything about it.
2. Michael Noonan
The Finance Minister took a tough line on the suggestion that AIB could reintroduce bonuses for senior bankers in the coming months. Though the idea was floated in a news report this week it was given short shrift by the Minister in an interview with Bloomberg. His message was clear: “The answer is sorry guys, much better performance required before we’ll even consider bonuses.”
3. Aspiring TDs
Students doing their leaving cert in the coming years will be able to choose ‘Politics and Society’ as a subject in what the government hopes will be a way of informing them about how politics works in this country. Fine Gael TD Jim Daly reckons there is a big appetite among second level students for information on how the country is run. Now we’ll find out in the coming years if our schools are full of budding parliamentarians.
4. Seán Barrett
He’s probably bluffing but the Ceann Comhairle’s resignation threat this week did briefly silence rowdy TDs during Leaders’ Questions as he emphasised the need to keep within the time limits. The showpiece event of the Dáil week frequently runs over and it’s time that stopped, primarily because the quality of the contributions tends to diminish the longer the Taoiseach and opposition leaders tend to ramble on.
5. The Public Accounts Committee
Though divisions were apparent throughout the week, the PAC’s decision to hear evidence from the garda whistleblower, Maurice McCabe, was a victory for the independence of the legislature from the executive. Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s decision to refer the penalty points controversy to the Garda Ombudsman was clearly aimed at halting the PAC probe, but it continues.
… and the 5 losers of the week are…
1. Brian Hayes
The junior minister is more than likely off to Europe as he will seek the Fine Gael nomination to run in Dublin. The decision is effectively Hayes tacitly acknowledging that he has no prospects of entering Cabinet in the immediate future, most likely because of the stance he took in the 2010 attempted heave against Enda Kenny. Hayes will do well in Europe, but some will feel he would have done better in Cabinet.
2. Alan Shatter
The Justice Minister turned out to be wrong if he had hoped his decision to refer the penalty points matter to the Garda Ombudsman and criticise some members of the PAC would result in the powerful Dáil committee stopping its inquiry into the matter. The Ombudsman’s investigation is welcome, the Minister’s potshots at the PAC are not.
3. Mick Wallace
No one is saying deputies should wear a suit and tie at all times in the Dáil chamber (except the Ceann Comhairle who failed to introduce a dress code two years ago) but Wallace would have more people focussing on what he was actually contributing to debates in the chambers if he wasn’t wearing loud Torino soccer shirts as he did this week. It gets publicity, but not for the right reasons.
4. Enda Kenny
As one commentator noted this week there was an element of Bertie-ness in the Taoiseach offering private assurances about the pylon review committee’s remit to backbenchers who then went on to throw the review process into chaos. That left Enda facing accusations of pulling an election stunt. There’s no doubt the independent commission to review the possible undergrounding of high-voltage cables is welcome, but not if it’s going to be handled like this.
5. The government
What does it say about the coalition that the public’s trust in this government is as low as trust in the last government? Undoubtedly Fine Gael and Labour have done many things different to Fianna Fáil, but breaking the salary cap for advisors, the lack of real Dáil reform, and the closed-shop of State board appointments are just a few examples of where all the promised reforms and change we anticipated as a result of the ‘democratic revolution’ haven’t really happened.
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