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Gilmore and Labour get lucky but will it be enough?

A difficult 2013 saw Labour lose a string of councillors, a chairman, an MEP and an ignominious fifth placing in the Meath by-election but by December Gilmore and party handlers celebrated the years end with a bit of luck and a string of good news announcements.

The first, the impending bail out for December 15th , was followed by November’s Red C poll pitching Lablour at 12% which happily consigned the Irish Times 6% October poll to the aberration bin.  This news, coupled with a fall in jobless numbers to 12.9%, laid the foundations for a carefully controlled but successful annual conference.  

Gilmore steadied nerves, repeated his message of tough decisions but steady hands, and provided Labour grassroots with the confidence to go out and face the electorate for the impending Local and European elections.

A further boost saw the Gilmore candidate Lorraine Mulligan beat former General Secretary Ray Kavanagh for party chair.  With the conference barely over, former troublesome chair Colm Keaveney, announced that he was joining the phoenix-like Damascian new principled Fianna Fáil.

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For many, leaving an organization that has been a part of a political life for so many years is never easy.   Once the flurry of media activity dies down, the self-inflicted banishment is combined with an ostracisation by former colleagues. You clear out your office and watch former colleagues and junior staff, who once hung on your every word, avoid you like the plague. The only people who seem consistently interested are the political correspondents hunting for juicy soundbites every time another ‘adjustment’ is announced.  Backchannels whisper ‘never a team player’, ‘disloyal’, ‘bitter’, ‘opportunistic’, ‘only interested in protecting the seat’.

But spare a thought too for those who tough it out – the backbenchers who disagree, but argue from the inside, tirelessly defending the organization and soaking up the flak. These loyalists often feel abandoned by resigning colleagues, and feel especially hurt when accused of deserting core values. They know resignations are not good for the optics – that they undermine, make their positions less secure and can rally doorstep anger.

As for the grassroots, smaller parties tend to attract a more value-driven member – committed, loyal, usually the most hard-working – and the most likely to leave following Coalition compromises.  For Labour, this loss of ground troops is somewhat offset by their 10 per cent rating and the re-drawing of the local election electoral boundaries in favour of larger seat constituencies which will suit their candidates.

While many are surprised at the nearly halving of the 2011 general election vote, there are those who claim it as a major achievement given the challenging economic circumstances.

Poll-wise, the overall yearly trend shows that Fine Gael (30%) and Fianna Fáil (22%) have steadied but Labour has dipped. With Sinn Féin on 18% and Independents and others at 21% it will not be enough to campaign negatively claiming the ‘other crowd would be a lot worse’.  The Smithwick Tribunal, Adams idiosynchratic utterings but particularly the constant political attacks have had the desired effect of checking Sinn Féin’s rise and probably curtailing any reasonable ability to be transfer-friendly.

But with a core vote of 10%, just who is the Labour voter? Junior Minister Jan O’Sullivan’s announcement of cuts to grants for disabled and elderly people with mobility problems would indicate that it is not the marginalized and the organizations that support them.  It is not a marginalized or even a radical vote.  Is it a higher professional, liberal, secular and mainly urban voter, made up of people who belong and feel comfortable in society, for example, the big unions and those that work for them?

With the budget out the way, Labour’s local candidates, would appear to have a clear enough run of it.   However with a full property tax payable by the end of March, the introduction of water charges and a further austerity budget in October, combined with a backdrop of a massive rural campaign against the construction of electric pylons and wind turbines, it will be far from a clear run-in.

In the locals Labour should do reasonably well in Dublin but will ship losses countrywide.

European-wise, in Dublin’s 3 seater, only one looks a definite Fine Gael seatwith the other two up for grabs among FF, Labour, Socialist, Green and a strong Independent.  In Ireland South, a large four seater, there is one Fianna Fáil and one Fine Gael with the last two seats among Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Féin and a strong independent.  Even though the Labour candidates have a low profile, with a strong campaign, they could retain two MEPs.

Prediction:  Labour won’t do well, but they won’t do badly either.

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Soft sentences for sex crimes spreads culture of menacing ignorance

And once again we read a report of a teacher weeping in court as her sex attacker walks free..It really is time to hold judges to account for their failure to properly convict crimes of sexual assault.

Here, journalist Justine McCarthy documents some of the appalling lenient sentences handed down by judges in recent sexual assault cases.  

The night Seán Thackaberry flung Michelle Hennessy over a wall and sexually assaulted her for 20 terrifying minutes, he effectively signed her death warrant.

Last week, Thackaberry,20, of Maryville, Melita Road in Kildare town, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail but his victim was not in court to see him taken away. For she is dead.

Explaining after the trial why Michelle took her own life in October 2012, her mother Peggy, said:  “For ages, people would be intimidating her and saying she was making it up.”   Those who hassled Michelle ignored the physical bruises she bore after Thackaberry had finished with her. They ignored the evidence that he stopped only because a Garda patrol car happened by. They ignored Michelle’s changed personality afterwards, her reclusiveness.  The case is chillingly reminiscent of the day in 2009 when Danny Foley, then 35, from Listowel, was sentenced on conviction of assault. A single file of about 50 well-wishers queued to shake his hand, watched by his victim who was seated with her counsellor, across the courtroom.  During the hearing, Fr. Seán Sheehy, a parish priest, gave evidence that Foley has the highest respect for women.

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Newspaper reports likened what unfolded in the Tralee courtroom to a John B Keane play, as if such displays of menacing ignorance were normally consigned to the past.  The difference between Keane’s darkly brooding 1950s and now is that, these days ambivalence about sexual crimes is flagrantly inculcated by the ruling class.  The silence in the Dáil over Michelle Hennessy’s suicide is almost as disturbing as her death.  It transmits a message that the revictimisation of victims of sexual crimes is of no concern.

Ireland is the only western European state that has not signed the Council of Europe’s convention on violence against women.  France, Turkey, Sweden, Slovakia, Portugal, Montenegro, Luxembourg, Iceland, Greece, Germany, Finland and Austria all signed in 2011. Justice Minister Alan Shatter told the Dáil the delay was caused by a conflict between the necessary provision for emergency barring orders and constitutional property rights.  Even Keane’s Bull McCabe didn’t think of that one.

Last Monday, the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned a six-month custodial sentence for Anthony Lyons, He was a wealthy aviation broker when he rugby-tackled and sexually assaulted a female passer-by on a quiet Dublin road one night.  Lyons has the wherewithal to pay 75,000 euro, as ordered by the court.  His reward was that he served just six months of his 66-month jail sentence.

The appeal court deemed the sentence by Desmond Hogan, the trial judge, too lenient and said it failed to take into account the gravity of the crime or its impact on the victim. The court will hear submissions this week to determine a suitable sentence. Hogan, however, is unlikely to be censured for compounding and prolonging the victim’s anguish with his leniency.  No matter how often sentences are overturned by the appeal court, there are no repercussions for the judges who impose them.

ImageIn 2007, the appeal court overturned a non-custodial sentence by Judge Paul Carney on Adam Keane from Daragh in Clane for breaking into a woman’s home and raping her. Last January, Carney released Patrick O’Brien, 72, of Bray, Co Wicklow, on bail pending an appeal of his 12-year sentence – nine years of it suspended – for routinely raping his daughter from the age of seven.  Carney only revoked bail following public uproar.  Nearly 3,500 signatures have been collected for a petition calling for the resignation of Martin Nolan, after the circuit court judge suspended in full a three-and-a-half year sentence in a child pornography case. Gardaí has discovered more than 7,000 child abuse imaged in the possession of Patrick Corcoran, 53, a former civil servant in the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism.

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This is not the first time  Nolan has freed convicted sex criminals.  Last July, he suspended all of a two-year sentence on a man who sexually assaulted his neighbour in the bed, as her eight-year old son lay beside her.  The man has pulled off the woman’s lower-body clothing, had her pinned to the bed and his legs wrapped around her when the child awoke and cried out:  “Get off my Mammy.”  The man replied:  Ssshhh, relax. I’m nearly done.”  Nolan said he did not find the man’s evidence believable but he rewarded him for showing remorse.

In October 2012, Graham Griffiths of the Saltings, Annagassan, Co Louth, was convicted of a random violent sexual assault on a 17-year old girl. Griffiths told Gardaí he had wanted to ‘make her inferior’.  He had four previous convictions for assault causing harm.  Nolan gave him four years and suspended the lot.  He ordered Griffiths to pay 15,000 euro to his victim: the price of a small car.

Also in October 2012, Nolan sentenced Glen Humphrey to three years for attacking three women.  One of the women, upon whom Humphrey has stamped, told the court she suffered from sleeplessness and flashbacks, and was attending counselling.  Nolan suspended the entire sentence and ordered Humphrey, who has six previous convictions, to pay 12,000 euro to the woman who was stamped on.

In a third case in October 2012, Nolan presided in the trial of Aidan Farrington of Iona Drive in Glasnevin who was found guilty of assaulting two of his nieces on three separate occasions when they were aged over 18.  Nolan described the assaults as ‘very serious’ but decreed that publication of Farrington’s name was sufficient punishment. He gave him three years, suspended in full.

Whenever a judge passes a controversially lenient sentence in a sexual crime case, there is a public debate about training for judges and the establishment of a judicial council. This is to ignore the obvious, in the same vein as did those who intimidated Michelle Hennessy and queued to shake Foley’s hand.  The obvious question is, if a judge lacks the emotional intelligence to understand the potentially catastrophic effects of sexual crime, what is he doing on the bench in the first place?

Inadequate sentencing is a disincentive to victims to report crimes and it conveys a message to society that such crimes are not really that bad.  Thus spreads the culture of menacing ignorance that caused Michelle Hennessy to end her life. If judges who impose inadequate sentences believe the punishment fits the crime, they fail to understand the crime.  And that is unacceptable.

Justine McCarthy – Sunday Times 24 November 2013

Can Labour survive its Black Tuesday tipping point?

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The latest Ipsos/MRBI poll (Tues 1st October) is more bad news for the Labour Party particularly given the ray of hope provided by  the Sunday Times Behaviour and Attitudes poll on Sunday 22 September  which pitched the party at 11%.  A Sunday Independent Millward Brown poll on the 1st September reporting an 8% poll rating, while making uncomfortable reading, could probably be justifiably be written off, coming as it did at the tail end of the ‘silly season’.  However this latest poll is nothing less than a devastating result.

Based on these results, if an election were called tomorrow, the present coalition would return 34% (FG 28 / Lab 6) while Fianna Fáil  22% and Sinn Féin  23% would return  45%.  Greens, Independents and Others amount to 23%.   These results open up the possibility of either a future FF/Sinn Féin  or a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil coalition.

Any evaluation of Labour’s woes must take account of the party’s optics and tone of message.   Right from the off, Labour were under scrutiny.  Rows about portfolios, Burton side-lined, Quinn re-instated amid cries of ‘Where’s Gilmore?’ In contrast Fine Gael felt mandated, were confident, highly visible and seemed well-equipped for austerity measures.   Fine Gael’s demeanour and messaging has found a perfect fit between the organisation and its target market – those senior and upper middle income earners that are gainfully employed, riding the recession and managing.  This cohort understand that sacrifices are necessary for a return to certainty.   Kite flying about a reduction in taxes has also been cleverly directed at this voter section.

Sinn Féin have also been crystal clear about the voters it wishes to attract  – the lower income earners, the unemployed, the carers etc that feel disenfranchised and badly let down, or to use Sinn Féin-speak, betrayed by Labour.  They continue their sound-bite mantra taunting Labour as the pro-austerity party supportive of a cosy consensus of cuts. And, of course, once Labour entered Government, it ceded the harder left constituency to Sinn Féin, who have used every opportunity to maximize this weakness. Intellectually challenging? No.  Simple, effective and making an impact?  Definitely.

And what of Labour’s tone?   Ruairi Quinn was criticised for stating that some parents view child benefit as a holiday fund while the same Minister found himself embroiled in a minor controversy over his ministerial car mileage claims to his holiday home in the West of Ireland.  Joan Burton has used the phrase ‘lifestyle choice’ to describe certain social welfare recipients but also in the context of women who took leave to have children who may have foregone pension entitlements as a result.  Not much empathy exuded here but particularly when you consider that Burton has hung on to her DIT public sector pension and only resigned her senior lecturer’s position in 2011, having spent nearly a decade on leave of absence.  However it is Pat Rabbitte who tops the poll in this regard – his  retort to  breaking election promises with the throwaway – Isn’t that what you tend to do during an election?, his remark that you’d have to be a caveman to avoid the new Broadcasting charge, his strange reply to a question on Morning Ireland regarding Denis O’Brien’s attendance at the Global Economic Forum was:  ‘I don’t know what kind of test you’d expect the government to cause invitees to the Global Economic Forum to jump through’ and his sneering demeanour when Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin raised the Lowry Tapes issue – all these incidences are examples of poor optics and evidence of a Labour Party that, at times,  appears as far away from a left wing party that you could possibly get.

Added to this has been the aggressive dismissal of former colleagues who have accused the leadership of abandoning core Labour Party principles.

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In the Shortall case, Labour Ministers and backbenchers closed ranks and supported Reilly’s actions  but by standing over Reilly’s alleged ‘Americanisation’ of the Health Service it disregarded what Shortall claimed was Labour’s founding principles.  The trend that has emerged in all these instances is a Labour leadership that refuses to address the cause of the issue for fear of going against Fine Gael and risking a dissolution of the coalition.   A Haughey-esque ‘power at whatever cost’ scenario has emerged.

Labour’s loss, of course, is now Sinn Féin and the Independents gain.

The Labour Party  communications strategy is to dismiss any criticism with well-worn soundbites – ‘we are putting the country ahead of any self-interest’,  ‘we did not enter this government to be popular and for short term poll results’ and ‘we must  put the country before any self-interest’.   Meanwhile behind the scenes there will be a lot more than mild panic.

Labour continue to claim that things would have been a lot worse had they not been in Government  and that they are protecting a ‘threshold of decency’.  Their problem is two-fold:  they promised radical reform and an overhaul of the decision-making processes and, despite these claims, have fallen way short of it.  Secondly, many believe that there is absolutely no economic, moral or social case for cutting the income of vulnerable groups or those on minimum incomes, when there is an alternative.

The good news for Labour is that it cannot get much worse.  It should also be noted that the Labour vote has always, given a margin of error, hovered around 12%.  The aberrations or dramatic vote increases occurred during the 1992 Spring tide and in 2011.  Labour attracted a lot of new voters but has now lost them just as quickly.

The question is – has Labour now reached its Black Tuesday tipping point?

The lad Shatter is realising it’s a game of two halves

In football, you get severely punished by the referee for retaliation and so it was for our over-eager Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, over the past ten days.  Not content with being 3-0 up in the communications stakes following the findings of an internal Garda report into the cancellation of traffic penalty points, he decided to do a solo run by announcing on national television, private information on a citizen.

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The communications strategy decided upon for the launch of the Garda internal report into the quashing of penalty points was professionally executed and effective.  The key messages being:  there was absolutely no corruption, it was not widespread but confined to a few isolated areas, the whistle-blowers  got it wrong and the independent Opposition TDs had blown the story out of all proportion to the actual facts.  Apart from a few criticisms that the report should have been independent,(it should have been) both the Garda Commissioner Martin Callanan and the Minister for Justice’s communications teams appeared to have blown the  opposition off the park and were home and dry.

Never content with what Johnny Giles might call a ‘result’,  Shatter had to go for the jugular and so we watched aghast as our Minister for Justice grossly over-used his powers and abused his position and that of the Garda Commissioners’ by making public private information held by an institution of the State.   That the Garda Commissioner had offered up and supplied this information is doubly worrying.

The information that Wexford TD Mick Wallace had been stopped and warned about using a mobile phone while driving was designed to show up Wallace as a hypocrite  Shatter claimed that Wallace’s call that Gardaí should have absolutely no discretion in such cases was hypocritical when he had benefited from such discretion . Shatter attempted to set up a false premise to knock it down.  Wallace had never argued that Gardaí should not have discretion before the issuing, only after the points had been received.

The Minister, now under pressure following his very public revelation, announced that he had received the information from Commissioner Callanan when being briefed about the internal report.  His answer only brought more questions. Now we have a police commissioner and a Minister for Justice colluding to smear the Minister’s political opponent.  So I imagine the meeting went something like this.  Shatter:  ‘Flanagan’s injury has severely weakened their team and Daly knows we don’t mess about –  so what I need from you Commissioner is a tactic for taking out Wallace, something that can take the heat off these reports, reframe the narrative and put the lad Wallace in the dock – get my drift Commissioner?’

The Gaffer Kenny (he of Denis O’Brien and Lowry fame) claims he didn’t see anything wrong with the tackle and has full confidence.  And now we find that the Minister himself has admitted failing to complete a breathalyser test at a checkpoint.  His excuse for failing to complete the test is because he is asthmatic.  Is there a clause in the Road Traffic Acts that allows for such a case?

This is a classic case of, not only abusing power but of failing to quit while you are ahead and highlights the failure of a Minister and a Garda Commissioner  to respect the authority bestowed upon them by the citizens of the State.   The Minister, 3-0 up in the communications stakes but in injury time, decided to do a solo run and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and has cleverly managed to  damage both himself and his office.   Minister Shatter’s behaviour is a classic case of how not to manage communications effectively.  He must be gutted, sick as a parrot, and if he ain’t, damn well  ought to be.

Why Labour fared so poorly

Among the many factors which has led to the poor Labour Party performance in Meath was the inherent contradiction in its key canvassing message:  ‘A vote for any of the other candidates is a vote for the status quo but a vote for Labour will increase our influence and power in Government’.  Yet Labour leader Eamonn Gilmore’s advice  was that, if he had a vote in the by-election,  he would give his second preference to Fine Gael.

Labour’s messaging and optics depicted a leadership and campaign team out of touch with the general mood. Media descriptions of the Labour candidate portrayed an impressively dressed film producer and restaurant owner energetically canvassing for more influence within Government while launching a policy in support of same sex marriage.  There was a distinct ‘cool hibernia’ feel to the campaign.  And, of course, the backdrop to all this was the coalition’s description of the Cypriot deal – to tax small depositors and increase corporation tax – as a ‘positive development’.  Meanwhile property tax notices came dropping through Meath letterboxes.

You do not have to reach too far back into the recent past to find the template for this behavior. The Greens, as junior coalition partners to Fianna Fáil, eagerly promoted civil partnership and a Lord Mayor for Dublin during the worst economic meltdown since the foundation of the State, to a bewildered and angry electorate.    A key problem for Labour is that, depending on your view, that is, whether Fine Gael’s election campaign was so successful or Labour’s so inept, the party was panicked into making all sorts of promises during the campaign that it has not kept.  Its clever Tesco-style  advert ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ attacking Fine Gael’s policy plans was considered a masterstroke of electioneering in that it halted the Labour slide and ensured Fine Gael would not form a single party government.  Labour’s problem is that five of the six items – cuts to child benefit, an increase in VAT, in car tax, on wine and DIRT tax have all been imposed under Labour’s watch while the sixth, a water tax, is due next year.  In fact, Pat Rabbitte was heavily criticized for his response when he retorted,   ‘Isn’t that what you tend to do during an election?’.

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Of course, it is not all Labour’s fault.  They inherited a basket case of an economy beholden to a troika inspectorate and a four year austerity plan to balance the books and repay the bailout.  The political gains of the promissory note deal, if any, are well overshadowed by the cuts to low and middle income public sector workers in Croke Park II.  Labour’s vote has been eaten into by Sinn Féin who continue to taunt them as a pro-austerity party supportive of a cosy consensus of cuts.  Sinn Féin have been joined by a rejuvenated Fianna Fáil who, while generally supportive of a coalition that is following FF policy to the letter, claim they would ‘do the same, but not that way’.

You may be left scratching your head wondering how Fine Gael have survived the electorates wrath? Well, the 2011 general election was far from a radical transformation – more a shift of voters from one conservative catholic nationalist party to another.  What we have now is two Irelands made up of those that are gainfully employed, are riding the recession and managing versus those that are under pressure and feeling the pain.   It is the latter that transferred allegiance to Labour and now feel betrayed.   Somewhere in this mix, according to the Meath figures, are voters who previously voted Labour but just cannot vote for Sinn Féin and shifted to Direct Democracy Ireland.

For Labour though, even in areas where voters expected them to make a difference it has been otherwise – the failure to reduce or withdraw funding to fee-paying schools, the delays in the introduction of  a media ownership bill and ongoing failure to curb bankers pay and reduce, in any significant way, the pensions awarded to senior  politicians and civil servants, are just a few.    What Labour has produced is the fig leaf of constitutional reform but even these measures fall way short of the sweeping reforms necessary to radically overhaul the decision-making processes the country so badly needs.

Pat Rabbitte has observed that the by-election was fought on national issues and not on local ones.  Important as it undoubtedly is, the Labour leadership felt that same-sex marriage was a key national issue.

Finally, the Labour leadership knows it has some searching questions to answer.  It went before the electorate and asked for a mandate for more influence and power to implement its policies.  The electorate’s reply was ‘What policies?’ and ‘No’.

Coalition bask in warm PR glow of promissory deal….for now

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While it is understandable that the Government should bask in the limelight of securing a deal on the €31 billion promissory note, underlying these celebrations is a very real sense that the work has only started. 

 Enda Kenny and Eamonn Gilmore immediately oversold the deal that was no deal last June with their ‘gamechanger’ and ‘seismic’ remarks and since then we’ve had an endless ‘will they  or won’t they’ story played out across the media.   There were those who suspected that a deal was imminent when Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte could not contain himself and claimed the Government would not be making a €3.1 billion payment by the end of March.   Of course, he was quickly slapped down by his senior Fine Gael Finance Minister as Noonan insisted he ‘butt out’ of a hot issue which was not in his brief.

While there is no denying that the promissory note deal is a good one, it must be framed as part of a far wider Irish debt landscape. The massive banking debt of €64 billion borrowed and used to bail out private banking institutions which became a sovereign debt, shifting the burden onto Irish taxpayers, is the next step in the process.  This Irish bank debt had nothing to do with state overspending but everything to do with private banks being allowed to recklessly borrow and lend massive amounts of cheap money overseen by an almost unregulated Eurozone.

 It was the Fianna Fáil/Green Party government that guaranteed the banks in September 2008, a guarantee copperfastened by Trichet, when he announced that no banks could fail, which sealed our fate.  Our own Irish and then our European political and banking elite shifted the burden onto the Irish taxpayer – just 1.8 million working Irish citizens.

So what exactly does this mean?  Last year Eurostat gave us a stark reminder when it published an analysis of the cost of the Eurozone banking crisis in each EU country. Ireland tops the table having paid out €41 billion with Germany a close second on €40 billion.   But here’s the rub – Germany’s €40 billion bill represents just 1.5% of GDP but when the cost of bailing out financial institutions is expressed as a percentage of annual GDP (2011) the cost to Ireland is a staggering 25.8%.  The per capita cost of the bank crisis for the average EU citizen is €191 but for Irish citizens it is a €9000 per head. 

 Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament has claimed that the burdens Ireland has undertaken needs and deserves the solidarity of the European institutions.  The next step on the footpath of European solidarity must be an immediate review of this morally reprehensible, socially and economically damaging unsustainable bank debt burden. 

The Fine Gael/Labour coalition started the week badly with Kenny’s weak response and what appeared to be a surprisingly unprepared reaction to the McAleese Magdalene report.  This continued with a rather odd display of ‘democracy in action’ with the rushing through of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Bill 2013 describing it as emergency legislation where Opposition finance spokespersons were given a mere ten minute briefing on the Bill.

The week finished for the coalition in the warm media glow of a well handled PR coup (leak included).   The promissory note deal is good for Fine Gael but will it provide the bounce that Labour so badly need? The tendency to overplay the deal given the obstacles of a massive €64 billion bank debt burden and the continuing budget deficit may still cost this government. 

 There are significant battles ahead.    

Government sleepwalks into Magdalene report

You are certainly not alone if you find yourself scratching your head following the Government’s disappointing response to the report addressing the plight of women incarcerated in the Magdalene laundries.  It is not as if the Government were unaware of what the report might contain and, while all Governments are cautious in their duty to protect the state or taxpayer from exposure, there was no excuse for not planning the announcement of a pro-active roadmap in support of these women.

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What is surprising is the Government’s apparent lack of preparedness  – a mealy-mouthed sorry but no full apology and, crucially, no announcements of State support through provision of rehabilitation services and supports – medical, social and pension provision, counselling including redress.

Given the sensitivities involved, even the announcement of a clear roadmap in support of these women would have received a positive response.  The failure to do so has exposed how ill-prepared Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his cabinet have been in handling this case.

The Magdalene women have waited a long, long time for this report but the Government’s  response ensures that they must wait even longer.  The word ‘heartless’ hangs in the air.