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Strap yourselves in

De Facto


De Facto
Liamy MacNally

There was a mighty tweet from Sinéad Stewart last week declaring: “Thinking about all the young people who’ve never experienced Fianna Fáil in government before. Strap yourselves in kids.” It says it all. They’re back. With a bang.
Those who holler “Are we there yet?” miss the point. This is not about reaching a destination but the journey. And this is going to be some journey – even a detour! A happy person is one who enjoys the scenery on the detour. Journey? Detour? Who knows? Who cares? It’s Fianna Fáil back at the reins.
First up, they insult Dara Calleary. Even non-party members know he’s a man of integrity. Then the first confessions started. Barry Cowen confessed his sin of omission. The Taoiseach, bedecked in clerical listening mode, dutifully dispensed forgiveness and a proverbial verbal penance. “Don’t do it again.” Next up is the trawl through the sinners of a lesser rank to see who actually squealed.
Of course the Republican Party (yes, that’s what Fianna Fáil call themselves) will deny that there is any witch hunt, yet every witch in Offaly has the broom oiled and serviced ready for take-off. The council will have a full-time job cleaning up the skid marks all over the county. Barry Cowen still has to explain why he was driving on a provisional licence. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet.
This raises the issue of expenses to TDs – on and off the road – who are literally creaming it, tax-free. It would be an appropriate time to revisit this cash cow, which benefits the select few. Then the Taoiseach had to issue a plea for forgiveness himself after announcing that he was meeting the Northern Ireland First Minister without Arlene Foster having been informed. In the words of a well-known Covie, ‘He’s a bit previous!’. The confessor became the ‘confessee.’
They still claim they chose the best people for the cabinet jobs, ‘in the interest of the country’. Amazing how three out of four in Micheál Martin’s constituency can be so brilliant, at the same time. And in Wicklow, two from Greystones are in the same category. Geniuses or genii. No brains in the west – so no senior ministries.
That’s Fianna Fáil for you, and the Greens. We had them before. We all still have the t-shirts and the scars. This time they also have a Fine Gael icing. Imagine it took Sinn Féin to blend the already bland and the blander, exposing the bogus Civil War differences espoused by both FF and FG. How patriotic was it to keep Sinn Féin out of government?
The make up of the Cabinet, junior ministers and the Taoiseach’s appointments to the Senate is enough to make you lose heart in the first week of government. Appointing siblings and constituency workers to high office is cronyism, not leadership. And ignoring the western seaboard is an insult, regardless of how you look at it.
Will we ever learn? Will we ever get away from this auld tomfoolery that is an affront to anyone with a brain? Self-interest masquerading as ‘the best interests of the country’. It’s amazing how they all manage to keep straight faces.
In Mayo we will soon realise how much we have lost out. Michael Ring delivered as a minister, whether you liked it or not. He reached into every corner of rural Ireland, allocating a few bob to encourage, cajole and support local communities who volunteered their time, effort and money. He built up his department and made it effective and meaningful. His department has now been hacksawed by the new government, because they don’t care.
Michael Ring knew how people felt, what they wanted and how they could be supported. He has more political nous and awareness in his little finger than the Government will find in its entire cabinet, but that’s for another day. Suffice to say rural Ireland owes him a debt of gratitude, and he’ll be missed in Cabinet. He acted like a ‘rural proofer’ as minster, to ensure that counties outside The Pale and large cities were not forgotten.   
Meanwhile, the gravy train is up and running again – another spin on the merry-go-round.