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Vote of confidence in Perry is a sure sign of the high jump!

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I will be surprised if John Perry is still a Minister of State when the Dáil resumes on September 18.

 

While all the public pronouncements of Government Ministers – including Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore – have pledged unstinting support, the tide has definitely turned against him.

Ministerial colleagues say privately that things don’t look too well for him… the controversy surrounding his personal debts are beginning to look like a “running sore” as one put it.

It’s like the chairman of an English Premier League club releasing a statement saying he has full confidence in the manager. Once that is issued, you be sure that as sure as night follows day that the manager is a goner.

Perry’s difficulty is that the crisis he has found himself in just can’t be explained away… well not in an easy way at the least. He obviously over-invested during the boom years and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

The reasons he got so much support when the judgement in favour of Danske Bank emerged was that he was not alone in his predicament. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of small to medium business people like Perry who expanded too much during the good years, over extended themselves, but are now paying the price.

That outpouring of sympathy from colleagues, including virtually all ministers, was in response to that. “It seemed like a plain vanilla business failure when first reported. Admittedly, more had come out since then which I didn’t know about,” said a minister to me in a text.

The first was that Perry owed the taxman a lot of money (€125,000) when he became Minister and it took a while (including a loan from a bank) for him to resolve that situation. So the first bit of explaining he will have to do is when and how he got a clean bill of health form the tax authorities and to ensure the public that he has no current issue with the Revenue Commissioners. He will have a bit of clarifying to do on that front.

Secondly, if Perry was Minister of State for, say, Housing, he would have no difficulties whatsoever. But he was Minister of State for Small Business. If you were to do a Venn diagram depicting Perry’s ministerial and business interests there would be a considerable overlap.

Back in April Perry as Minister was calling in the chief executives of Bank of Ireland and AIB, essentially asking them to explain their positions and policies on small and medium business, including those with distressed loans.

The Court papers showed that at around the same time Perry was telling Danske Bank that he knew Richie Boucher personally and was talking to the AIB at a senior level.

You can talk until the cows come home about Chinese walls but it gives rise to a perception of conflicts of interest. The court documents also show that Perry has other substantial loans.

All of this needs explaining and a lot of it. And once you get to that level of explanation you are in real difficulty – especially when your personal and ministerial interests are so intertwined – was he speaking to the head of the bank as a junior minister or as an individual seeking a loan or a rescheduling of debt?

This is an edited version of Harry McGee’s column. For the full version see this week’s Tribune here

Connacht Tribune

Best laid plans and programmes can fall foul of political reality

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Debate snub...Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

If architects’ plans were like the Programme of Government,

  1. the country would be full of unfinished buildings
  2. that would look nothing like the plans.

Prospective governments spend weeks – and sleepless nights – working out the programme that will be the blueprint for their term of office.

Some even produce a glossy self-congratulatory report each year, showing how many of its targets have been achieved.

Two things need to be said about that:

  1. They are subjective.
  2. Nobody outside the bubble pays any attention to them.

Some set out ambitious targets for the first 100 days of government. That idea has been around since the 1930s and is designed to show a signal of intent, that the new Government is going to put its money where its mouth is.

More often than not the new regime learns to its cost that it has bitten off more than it can chew. Achieving something in the world of politics within 100 days is like reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace during a lunch break.

  1. Not exactly impossible
  2. But not exactly possible

And do governments learn from these mistakes? Do they realise that it is a bit of a ridiculous concept?

  1. No
  2. No

There is a political problem here. You might achieve the big things in politics, you might get a wobbly economy back on to an even keel, you might create a historic record for employment, you might push through the six referendums you promised to liberalise society.

But it’s a bit like the guy who earns a reputation for not buying a round. No matter if he has devoted his life to the service of others, and has sacrificed everything for the personal good.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Politics and law have been entwined through the ages

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Seamus Woulfe...at the centre of latest storm.

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

I remember when I was a kid there was an Irish rugby tour to apartheid South Africa which caused a huge furore, including a (if I remember correctly) a shouty row on The Late Late Show. One of the arguments used by those favouring the tour was: “Sports and politics should not mix.”

It went down well as a sound bite but was a nonsense; the reality is that politics mixes with everything, including sports. Nothing occurs in a vacuum.

Politicians make decisions over how sport is funded, how it is governed and regulated (look at the recent row over John Delaney’s tenure), and sometimes when it can be played.

All sports organisations have their own internal politics which can be more vicious than the stuff that goes on in Leinster House. And political parties have long ago discovered the benefits of putting a high profile former sportsperson up as a candidate.

Which brings us onto the bigger issue: the separation of powers in the State. Our Constitution draws out a relationship between the three arms of State – the Executive (government), Judiciary and Parliament (the Oireachtas). The impression that has been handed down to us is they are three goldfish in different bowls, all swimming, but in different waters.

It just doesn’t work out like that in real life. For one, for most of the history of the State, parliament has essentially been a chattel of government, with no real separate powers of its own.

In recent years, with less stable majorities for government than in the past, that relationship has changed – but parliament is still very much subservient to central Government.

It’s not just lip service when it comes to relationships with the legal establishment. There is an effort to assert that they operate in separate spheres but real life often intrudes – it’s more or less impossible to maintain the divide, unless you do it artificially.

For one, it is politicians who appoint judges, not other judges. Now, of course, judges have a say in it. There is the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) which assesses the merits of lawyers who are not yet judges.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Biden brings normality back to world’s most powerful office

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US President-elect Joe Biden celebrates his victory with his wife Jill and his Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris.

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

I did not want to make the same mistake I made four years ago. Then I stayed up until about 1.30am and it looked like it was going okay for Hillary Clinton in Florida. So I said to myself, that big buffoon is done for. When I woke up the next morning Donald Trump was the President of the United States. He had somehow managed to win Florida and dismantled the Blue Wall of Democrat States in the Mid-West by taking Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

This time I stayed up until 4.30 in the morning. And that was a mistake too. For the picture was as unclear then as it was 12 hours later.

It was too close to call but already commentators were talking of a red mirage; most on-the-day voters plumped for Trump but early voters – whose votes were counted last – had steered very sharply towards Joe Biden.

It was historic. It’s really hard to knock out an incumbent president seeking a second term. It had been done only eight times before that in two and a half centuries.

Was it his inept handling of Covid-19? Had people grown sick of his vanity and his self-serving boasts? Did this natural disruption just cause too much turmoil and uncertainty in people’s lives? Did his partisan views, that red-mist madness, repel more than it attracted?

Well, the evidence is in the poll. The answer to all those questions is yes. To me, the outcome was clear. Biden won the popular votes. He also won the electoral colleges.

The majority was small and reflects a very divided society. Trump is the champion of rural, less educated, blue collar white, conservative, Hispanic and white America. Biden is popular among the middle classes, the urbanites, the better educated, and black voters.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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