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Apple debacle cuts to core for the big two

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Shake hands...Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin before a TG4 leaders’ debate.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Every cliché starts off life as a freshly-minted phrase. In the beginning, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee were grotesque twins in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ before the left turned it around to portray Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as inseparable and undistinguishable.

Problem is that after a while they used no other phrase to describe the phenomenon. If you allow a Sinn Féin or Alphabet Alliance (the AAA-PBP) spokesperson more than a minute of time these days, you can be as sure as night follows days that Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee will flow from their tongues.

And it’s a ghastly cliché – but is it true? Like a lot of things, a little bit, but not fully so.

Since the foundations of the State, parties of the left have been calling on Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to coalesce, saying there’s not a cigarette paper between their policies or ideology.

By doing so, they argue, Irish politics can finally attain the left/right alignment that is the norm in other countries.

But in some senses, they are missing the point. The two big parties dismiss the ideological scale as arbitrary, and see themselves as essentially centrist, their free market tendencies tempered by a commitment to elements of a welfare society.

Let’s put an end to civil war politics, they exhort us. But it’s more complex than just two competing sides in that war carrying on the fight through the generations.

At the time of the foundations, both parties stood for different things and represented different constituencies. Fine Gael was the party of the establishment, lawyers, big farmers, the officer class in the Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces, Dublin’s middle classes.

Fianna Fáil was the party of the small holder, the rank and file members the Garda, Dublin’s working classes.

Their policies reflected that. Fine Gael was a pro-business party, promulgating ‘law and order’ and morally conservative.

Fianna Fáil was a little more to the left and populist – remember De Valera’s famous comment from the 1930s that “Labour Must Wait”. That related to the claim that it was Fianna Fáil that represented the working classes. It was also conservative.

Both parties have evolved – Fine Gael in particular – into something else. That said, both can still trace their roots in their current iterations.

But are they now indistinguishable.

Sure they compete against each other. But more often than one might expect, they compete together against the rest. The name of the game is maintaining the centre.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Donohoe discovers it’s the little things that trip you every time

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Minister Paschal Donohoe...embarrassing revelation.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

When the law finally caught up with Al Capone, it was not for organised crime, or for boot-legging – it was for failing to pay his taxes.

There’s a bit of a leap of imagination required for us to segue to the next paragraph. But stay with me …

We are writing about Paschal Donohoe, and the similarity is in the way that is the fact that it is a minor – and unexpected – fault or omission or act, that has also made his position vulnerable.

Donohoe is the third Minister in the past six months to find himself in hot water – not because of policies or Government decisions, but over omissions on personal declarations.

It might seem like a relatively trivial matter when compared with the huge impact that Government policies have on people’s lives. But governance is important.

Last autumn, the Longford-Westmeath TD Robert Troy ran into trouble when the online investigative site, On the Ditch, investigated his property interests. It emerged that Troy, a Minister of State for Enterprise, had not declared all his properties in his register of interests.

Troy initially did not respond but when he did it was only a partial explanation. Then there was more new information about his properties that was not known before. When you are explaining, you are losing, the American political adviser Karl Rove famously said. Now Troy was explaining and the more he explained the closer he got to the exit door. In the end he had no choice but to go.

Then only last week, the same website broke a story about Damien English and his home in Meath. This one went back a long time, to 2008 when English was a 30-year-old backbench TD.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Two Frank Fahys – sharing a name but not ideologies

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Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.... graveside oration.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

This is the story of two Fahys from East Galway. Both were involved in politics. One was a priest; the other a teacher and a barrister. Both opposed the Treaty but from the 1920s their paths diverged radically.   I had no knowledge of either man until very recently. Then a biography of Frank Fahy, written by Michael Fahy, was published last year.

‘Frank Fahy, Revolutionary and Public Servant’ is a fascinating account of how a teacher’s son from Kilchreest, born in 1879, became a leading figure in the Easter Rising, chose the anti-treaty side in the civil war, and became the Dáil’s longest serving Ceann Comhairle, chairing the chamber for 19 years.

Fr John Fahy was 14 years younger than his namesake but was already a militant nationalist by the time of his ordination in 1919. He travelled back to Ireland to attend the funeral of the republican priest Fr Michael Griffin, who was kidnapped and killed by the Auxiliaries.

Like Frank Fahy he took the anti-treaty side but for the turbulent priest there would be no reconciliation. He remained an unreconstructed militant until his death five decades later.

Frank Fahy went to UCG and became a teacher in Castleknock College in Dublin. He was a beautiful Irish speaker and very involved in Conradh na Gaeilge, becoming general secretary for a time.

He took part in the Easter Rising, being second-in-command of the brigade which took over the Four Courts. After narrowly escaping execution, he was one of the new MPs elected to Westminster when Sinn Fein’s won a complete landslide in 1918.

Taking the anti-treaty side, he was an abstentionist TD but joined Fianna Fáil when it was founded in La Scala in 1926. Michael Fahy paints a great scene when Frank Fahy topped the poll in Co Galway in 1932, which ushered in the first Fianna Fáil government.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Ten political pointers and the perennial sporting question

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Leo Varadkar...year of the lion or the pussycat?

World of Politics with Harry McGee

As we begin a new year here are ten things to look out for in politics in 2023 – with the perennial sporting question thrown in for good measure at the finish.

  1. Read My Lips, No elections

It’s not an election year. The European and local elections will not take place until 2024 and the next general election is not scheduled to take place until 2025. Governments don’t always run their full five year term in Ireland.

But this is different. There is a historic agreement between the two Civil War parties to rotate the Taoiseach’s position. Fianna Fáil has got its time and it would be considered a betrayal of the most fundamental kind for it to renege on its part of the dial.

At this stage, too, it looks unlikely that the Greens will pull out of Government. In reality, it would take a calamity. Calamities, of course, are not unheard of, But at this moment, it looks unlikely.

  1. Leo, the Lion or the Pussycat

Leo Varadkar took over for his second stint as Taoiseach in mid-December. He said that he has learned from the mistakes he made during his first outing in the top job.

The cut of his jib back then was pro-enterprise, fiscally conservative, low taxes Fine Gael. That’s still the basic formula but he’s stopped playing the sharp keys and opted for a softer melody.

He still talks about the need to lower taxes but that comes across as a wish or aspiration these day, rather than policy. Irrespective of what you think of him, Varadkar is a clear thinker, a strong communicator, with a good political head and is ideological Fine Gael rather than heritage Fine Gael.

He’s in a three-way coalition though so no matter how much each party tries to assert its identity, it all ends up diluted.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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