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'I don't want to embarrass you': 5 winners and 5 losers from the political week

You win some, you lose some…

Lauren McCormack protests on Molesworth Street, opposite Leinster House, on the first day of the Dáil
Lauren McCormack protests on Molesworth Street, opposite Leinster House, on the first day of the Dáil
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

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 winners and losers from the past seven days:

The 5 winners of the week are…

1. Priory Hall residents

In many ways it is appalling that the issue of Priory Hall has become so politicised. But the suicide of Fiachra Daly, a former resident of the dilapidated apartment complex, has put the matter firmly on everyone’s agenda from the Taoiseach down. Now Phil Hogan has promised a swift resolution process while Enda Kenny belatedly committed to “sort it out”.

2. Micheál Martin and his debate challenge

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The Fianna Fáil leader knows that he’s onto a winner here. While most people across the country will not care about the minutiae of the Seanad debate if they hear their Taoiseach isn’t prepared to debate the leader of the opposition on a particular matter they’ll wonder why that is. RTÉ’s invitation to the two men – which Martin has accepted  - only strengthens that.

“Because I don’t want to embarrass you,” the Taoiseach argues as his reason for not debating Martin but Kenny would be better off meeting the challenge – unprecedented as it might be in a referendum campaign – to silence the doubters and bolster his strong argument for abolition.

3. The Ceann Comhairle

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Granting limited speaking rights to the Reform Alliance and other TDs outside of their parliamentary party is a victory for those who argue that the Dáil needs to be more independent and less-controlled by government.

Seán Barrett is also a bit more vocal in curtailing TDs who go over time in debates, aided by the new clock in the chamber. The more of this the better.

4. Jillian van Turnhout

The independent senator argued on Thursday that child beauty pageants, like the ‘Toddlers in Tiaras’ event that was to take place in Balbriggan hotel, are “horrendous” and have “no place in Ireland”.

By Friday, the event had been cancelled at that hotel though later went ahead elsewhere. But the Minister for Children was scathing in her assessment of such pageants so it is an issue placed firmly on the agenda by one of the Taoiseach’s nominees to the endangered upper house.

5. The tea industry

There was so much tea consumed at the party think-ins at the beginning of the week there may well be shortages in Meath, Waterford and Laois where the parliamentary party meetings were held.

… and the 5 losers of the week are…

1. Fine Gael and its €20m Seanad saving claim

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Confirmation from the Oireachtas that it is not possible to confirm the net saving that would be achieved from abolition undermines Fine Gael’s much-quoted claim of a €20 million saving as does two government ministers taking separate views on the matter this week.

The party is standing firm but expect the No side to focus on this questionable claim in the remaining weeks of the campaign.

2. Micheál Martin and his party’s Seanad stance

That the main opposition party called for abolition of the Seanad in its manifesto in 2011 undermines their call for a No vote two years later.

Rightly the party can claim that abolition was contingent on Dáil reform – which Martin says hasn’t happened – but the Fianna Fáil leader’s performance on the Six One News (22 minutes in) wasn’t the best and Fine Gael were only too quick to make hay out of this:

image3. James Reilly

The Minister for Health is under fire for the HSE budget overrun while the IMO had a big go at him this week over the lack of consultation about plans to extend free GP care. Another set of HIQA reports condemning poor hand hygiene at hospitals were also not good news for the Minister.

4. Bertie Ahern

The former taoiseach gave an interview to Pat Kenny this week on Newstalk. But he would only talk about the All Ireland Final and Dublin’s chances. Neither Kenny nor Ahern came out of this looking particularly well.

Perhaps there’ll be a further interview but there’s no indication of that yet. Even if he’s a loser on this occasion, Bertie won’t care as long as his beloved Dubs are winners later today.

5. TDs looking to update their iPhones

They’re not allowed to download the swanky new iOS7. Yet.

Pics: Oireachtas, Photocall Ireland, PA, and Twitter

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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