FG holds out begging bowl – to public

De Facto
The biscuit tin politics of government

Liamy Mac Nally

Biscuit tin politics is alive and well. Ask Fine Gael. Last Sunday, party members stood to attention before the church-going public appealing for funds under the guise of the ‘annual Church gate collection.’
Party Leader, Enda Kenny, can feel justified over his Vatican missive in the Dáil last year but not so his Government’s decision to close the Vatican Embassy. It smacked of triumphalism, a state of grace that was once the preserve of the upper echelons of the Church. The Government did not need to make such a decision and the Vatican did not deserve it. Maintaining a Vatican Embassy is more than keeping mere diplomatic links open. While Governments generally maintain a balance in diplomacy the Vatican closure appears one-sided, Labour-sided.
Regardless, it is strange how a party still appeals to churchgoers for cash. Stranger still, that the party will appeal to the public while, at the same time, cut the services that the public require. On top of that you can add the ignominy of this Government’s loyal support for disgraced bankers and European politicians who have betrayed the very notion of democracy by insisting that bank debt becomes sovereign debt.
In the past few weeks another €1 billion was handed over to bank creditors in the name of the Irish people. We used to say the ‘Irish taxpayer’ but the number of taxpayers has diminished so much because of the crisis brought on by the banks. Decisions being made by the Government to support bankers also impact on those of us who are no longer in full-time work and have to rely on social welfare. Those decisions affect us also, hence, the ‘Irish people’ tag.
Fine Gael members can claim until the party is dead that they have no choice but to honour payments to the Troika. What they must admit is that they were fully aware of the financial situation BEFORE they assumed power, created policies ahead of the election based on that information and then took office in the full knowledge of the financial reality in the country.
Their policies reflected the wishes of the people. These were that banks would not receive any more state finance and that the EU would be informed immediately that bank debt would have to be removed from sovereign debt.
Fine Gael and their Labour colleagues failed miserably. In the meantime, people of this country face cutback after cutback while politicians fight among themselves over what they can spend their expenses money on. Nauseating is too simple a word for it. Politicians do not like the word ‘morality’ but that word is one they will have to embrace. Their actions have moral consequences. The sooner they realise that the better.  
Today we are battling with a health system that is gone wallop. Waiting lists and waiting times are still ugly features of health life in this country. Two weeks ago there were no ICU beds available at the Mayo General Hospital. Does anyone care? It appears not. Soon we will have more closed beds in hospitals than beds available for the public. On top of that we still have the scandal of consultants using hospitals for private patients, shoring up the two-tier system. How does Labour support this?
The latest property tax leak is that a €1,000 property tax is being considered – because the Troika wants it. Will the real Government please stand up? Remember that it is the people who elect the Government not faceless, nameless, desktop bureaucrats from Brussels, New York or London.
Oh how we would rejoice if the Irish Government stood up for its people and stopped bending over to be whipped by the EU masochists! 50 Shades of Green – a spanking new read by the dominant EU and the submissive Irish Government! The follow-up will be called Fifty Ways to Bleed Your Voter.   
It would be funny if it were not all so serious. The deckchairs are still being moved around the Titanic. We thought that was the preserve of Fianna Fáil, as the party sidelined their grassroots members and supped and cupped with the corporate elite. Most of the latter are now NAMAd while the former pick up the pieces of a once-proud organisation. Fine Gael is in danger of falling into the same hubris pool, as the power preening continues while party members look on in disbelief.
To say that there is disappointment with the current Government is an understatement. It seems to flit from one ‘EU jaunt to reduce interest rates’ to another while ignoring the elephant in the room – the immorality of bank debt being made into sovereign debt. Stand up for Irish people, for God’s sake. The people of the country deserve more than a constant whipping. And put away the biscuit tins.