Criticism, for a politician, is part of the job. Journalists can be quick to draw on the power of the pen in criticism rather than hold back, take a deep breath and peer under the cover of a story to see where the real shadows are falling. Criticism, while necessary, can often be the easy option. At other times, it is plainly unfair, unjust and unwarranted, as was a recent media attack on John Carty. It seemed like a sensationalist attempt to undermine Fianna Fáil’s sole Oireachtas member in Mayo.
John Carty was blamed for almost every shortfall in the county. He was almost being blamed for the rain! Such nonsense does no one a service, least of all the cause that the writer was attempting to highlight. While one can easily understand the frustration of some journalists with the nonsense of a government’s failed strategies and broken promises, it is important to direct the criticism at the source of the failures.
The magic wand
We are all aware of the serious under-spend in the BMW region just as we are aware of the shortfalls in Government policy that have condemned us to accepting second-class status, especially in the provision of infrastructure. Betrayal by a government and its policies of inconsistency cannot be laid at the feet of one humble member of the governing party. John Carty does not have a magic wand to wave around infrastructural or democratic deficits that are endemic across the west. Much as we might all wish, he is no Harry Potter! The shortfalls were there before him and will outlast him.
John Carty is not an in-your-face politician. That is not his style. He adopts a quieter style. Some people do not like this trait in a politician, preferring instead someone who is flamboyant, loud and one who has not had an unpublished thought. John Carty does not leave an audio trail across the airwaves, neither does he hold people spellbound when he speaks at meetings. The issue is whether he, as a legislator, is doing his job and whether we, as the electorate, will vote him back in to continue in Dáil Éireann. To blame him for every fault-line in the Government misses the mark.
Delivering the goods
With all the clamouring for the proverbial back-slapping after the recent approval of the long-awaited gym for Davitt College in Castlebar, one would do well to remember that the announcement was made on John Carty’s watch. Several other politicians tried to get in on the act by claiming they had ‘made representation’ on the matter. They might have, but any examination of their accompanying press releases raises a question – why was the gym not delivered during their term in Government? After all, Enda Kenny was in power for a few years. He was also a minister. Why did he not deliver the gym? Beverley Flynn was in the Government party for years. Why was the gym not delivered during these years? Frank Chambers was a Fianna Fáil Senator with his party in power – why was the gym not announced during his term?
For the record, John Carty was the one who facilitated the delegations to Minister Mary Hanafin for this project. Proof of his representation on the matter was easily seen on the day it was announced by Minister Mary Hanafin in Castlebar. John Carty was the only politician present for the announcement when the Minister visited the college.
People know that he has facilitated several delegations on many projects during his term. Many other groups who need a Minister’s ear, from business people to local community groups, have had their paths smoothed by the quiet man from Knock who goes about his business in his own way. This can be seen from the manner of his election the last time out. He was up against strong ‘opposition’ in this constituency, even within his own party, one of whom was a Minister.
Following Beverley Flynn’s expulsion from the party, John Carty remains the sole Fianna Fáil Oireachtas member in Mayo. In some strange way, it appears that there are people who resent him for being the last one standing! It is like blaming someone for surviving an accident! For some, the long face and the post mortem mind seem to be the preferred option. The men of the black diamond and the women of weeds are always waiting in the wings, ready to wail at a moment’s notice. Death peddlars are available for every event.
A government opportunity
There is no way the Government can balance the under-spend in the region before the end of the term of the National Development Plan. It has an opportunity to make a magnanimous gesture, a declaration of intent towards the people of the west by its attitude to the Western Rail Corridor. Many words have graced this column about this issue over the years, without apology to any government. In tackling the issue the Government has committed to the project in two phases. Phase one is in three sections, from Ennis to Athenry, on to Tuam and then to Claremorris. Phase two is from Claremorris to Collooney in County Sligo. A commitment was given to open phase one – all three sections – by 2014. Phase two would then be examined. An announcement is imminent on a start date for phase one, but many feared it would exclude the Claremorris link. This fear was verified by Minister Eamon Ó Cuív last week in an interview, when he stated that Claremorris would not be included in the forthcoming announcement. This seems strange at best and rather stupid at worst for a government that is playing serious catch-up in this constituency. It plays into the hands of the critics and allows John Carty, as the sole Oireachtas member in the county, to be put centre stage without either a song to sing or a microphone to hold. It is a no-brainer for Fianna Fáil as a party not to wake up to the Claremorris link. It appears as if the powers that be in Mount Street are pulling the wrong strings on this project.
To ignore the importance of the Claremorris link in this constituency only adds to the already accomplished ‘laughing stock’ tag the party has earned through its political ineptitude and mishandling of the re-organisation of the Mícheál Ó Móráin Cumann in Castlebar. For all his defence of party policies and promises, even Eamon Ó Cuív must find it hard to defend excluding Claremorris. His Department will benefit most when the decentralisation button is firmly pressed. Perhaps the party would do well to listen to John Carty on this issue. He, among others, has been most active in the campaign to have Claremorris included in the initial announcement of phase one of the project. Monday’s northern section ‘clearing works’ announcement and next week’s southern section announcement will not appease the middle ground in Mayo.
Criticism is as necessary as giving credit when it is due. Both have a home. Sometimes it is necessary to spell it out when credit is due and criticism is misplaced. One does not need to be a party apologist to defend someone’s integrity.