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'A right pain in the bum': 4 winners and 5 losers from the political week

You win some, you lose some – even during the summer recess.

Ivor Callely was sentenced to five months in prison this week.
Ivor Callely was sentenced to five months in prison this week.
Image: 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.’

Though TDs and Senators have largely vacated Kildare Street for the summer there’s still plenty happening politically, so here are our political winners and losers from the past seven days:

The 4 winners of the week are…

1. Fidelma Healy-Eames 

The independent senator, who is part of the Reform Alliance, feels vindicated after she received an apology from the Irish Daily Mail this week for how it reported a trip to Rwanda in 2012.

screenshot.1406718955.12804 Source: www.thejournal.ie

2. Joe McHugh

We may think that it was fundamentally wrong to appoint a Gaeltacht minister who can’t speak the language fluently but fair play the Donegal TD for doing his very best to learn Irish over the summer. McHugh updated us on his progress this week and informs us that he is now “thinking in Irish”. Keep it up.

3. Frances Fitzgerald

Once more, in the wake of this week’s damning report, the justice minister finds herself in a position to say all the right things and promise the sun, moon and stars when it comes to reform of both her department and An Garda Síochána.

Fitzgerald can do no wrong right now but a time will come soon enough when people will be examining her record and what she has deliered. That time isn’t too far off and we will certainly expect progress on real reform of the gardaí and her troubled department by the end of the year.

4. Charlie Flanagan

Charlie Flanagan.

After criticism from the coalition backbenches in recent weeks over the Government’s stance on the Gaza crisis, the new Foreign Affairs Minister showed he was settling into his brief this week — having effectively been thrown in the deep end as the conflict was commencing. Speaking off-the-cuff at the end of the four-and-a-half-hour Seanad recall debate on Thursday, Flanagan set out the Department’s position on the crisis logically and intelligently (although whether you agree with him or not, obviously, is another matter entirely).

… and the 5 losers of the week are…

1. Ivor Callely 

No prizes for guessing where the former Fianna Fáil junior minister would feature this week. Callely’s five month prison sentence for expenses fraud brings to an end a long-running saga that had already put paid to his lofty political ambitions sometime ago. Those who know him say that the former Dublin North Central TD had ambitions to be taoiseach. Right now he could not be further away from such an office.

File Photo Ivor Callely Goes To Jail.

2. Brian Purcell 

Without the backing of his minister for nearly three months, Brian Purcell always faced an uphill task to hold onto his job as secretary general at the Department of Justice. A damning report into the failings as the department this week has put an end to his time there. Though he can be thankful that he looks set to hold onto his sizeable salary and be moved sideways in the civil service.

3. Joan Burton

If the poor Tánaiste thought she was in a honeymoon period given she has just taken over as Labour leader then she didn’t anticipate the wrath of heavy metal fans for her remarks about the music genre.

Irish Budget 2014 An unimpressed Joan Burton Source: Niall Carson/PA

4. Councillor John Hearne of Sinn Féin

The Sinn Féin councillor, from Waterford, observed last month that he thought the United Nations should start shelling Israel in order to persuade its government to return to the talks table. Hearne made the comments on WLR FM on 18 July — adding that the approach would be one way of bringing Benjamin Netanyahu “to heel”. Hearne and Sinn Féin HQ distanced themselves from the remarks when contacted by TheJournal.ie on Thursday.

John Hearne [Youtube screengrab]

5. Senator Maurice Cummins

Senator Maurice Cummins.

Hearne’s comments on the Gaza conflict were, obviously, at the very least ill-judged and offensive — but the councillor’s comments had gone largely unnoticed until another Waterford-based politician read them into the Oireachtas record this week. In a transparently partisan-politics move — Maurice Cummins, speaking during the Seanad debate on Gaza, read the most offensive parts of Hearne’s comments out to his colleagues, observing that that was the sort of opinion to be found in Sinn Féin “when the mask slips”. We wonder — if the comments had been made by a SF figure from, say, Sligo, would Cummins have mentioned them?

Additional reporting by Daragh Brophy.

Like politics? Then ‘Like’ TheJournal.ie’s Politics page?

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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