A week of words, U-turns and contradictions

Political Correspondent Conor Ryan selects some of the best quotes in a week of political strife

WHO IS AND WHO IS NOT THE OTHER GUY

- “Spain is not Greece.”

Elena Salgado, Spanish finance minister

- “Portugal is not Greece.”

The Economist

- “Ireland is not in ‘Greek Territory’.”

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan

- “Greece is not Ireland.”

George Papaconstantinou, Greek Finance minister

- “Spain is neither Ireland nor Portugal.”

Elena Salgado, Spanish finance minister

- “Neither Spain nor Portugal is Ireland.”

Angel Gurria, secretary general of the OECD

- “If Ireland retains its attractive corporate tax rate, it just might ease its plight with some significant economic growth. Whatever problems Greece, Portugal and Spain have, they are not Ireland’s.”

Irwin Stelzer, director of economic-policy studies at the Hudson Institute in the Wall Street Journal.

- “Unlike other countries, Portugal has not suffered from a house market bubble, its financial sector is not oversized and its banks are well capitalised.”

European Union president Herman Van Rompuy explains that Portugal is not Ireland.

THE GREEN PARTY IS GOGO AND A GENERAL ELECTION LOOMS

- “We have now reached a point where Irish people need political certainty to take them beyond the coming few months, so we believe it’s time to fix a date for a general election in the second half of January 2011.”

Minister John Gormley

- “It is my intention at the conclusion of this budgetary process with the enactment of the necessary legislation in the New Year to then seek a dissolution of Dáil Éireann and to enable the people to determine who should undertake the responsibilities of government in the challenging period ahead thereafter.”

Taoiseach Brian Cowen responds and announces an early-2011 election.

- “It is my belief that you have lost all credibility with the citizens of this state and now the only honourable course of action is to resign as Taoiseach and leader of the Fianna Fáil Party.”

Cork North-Central TD Noel O’Flynn writes to Mr Cowen to ask him to step down.

- “I’m very annoyed by it. I’m not sure they’ve shown they have the best interest about the stability of the country at heart.”

Arts Minister Mary Hanafin lashes the Green Party.

- “Why the bleeding hell does she think we stayed in Government with Fianna Fáil all this time, when they were the ones who made the mess in the first place (if we weren’t acting in the national interest).”

The Green Party’s Paul ‘Gogo’ Gogarty hits back

THE FOUR-YEAR PLAN

- “We have eroded the income tax base to an unsustainable level. This must be rectified if revenue-raising capacity and fairness are to be restored.”

The Government’s Four-Year Plan issues a damning indictment of its own tax policy over the last decade

- “Those who can pay the most will pay most, but no group can be sheltered. The measures contained in this plan will negatively affect the living standards of citizens in the short term.”

Mr Cowen sells the Four-Year Plan.

FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE THE GOVERNMENT’S MESSAGE WHEN THE IMF ARRIVED FOR DISCUSSIONS BUT NOT NEGOTIATIONS

- “We could not and did not communicate clearly that at official level there was discussions in general about the situation.”

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey

- “I want to make the position clear. Last weekend, I refuted specific reports that were put to me and which were untrue at the time. The first of these was the report that we had applied to join a facility. I felt it was very important to confirm that this was not the case.”

The Taoiseach said he delivered the only message he could

- “I didn’t lay any blame on finance, I was only answering where did the briefing document come from.”

Government spokesman Eoghan Ó Neachtain claimed the Taoiseach was working off the message delivered from finance officials.

- “Disastrously mismanaged by a total lack of a coherent communications strategy.”

Former minister Willie O’Dea assesses the effort.

- “We were given an official line which was essentially a mixed message, basically along the line that discussions were taking place but not negotiations.”

Minister Gormley said the spin left people feeling betrayed and misled

THE DONEGAL SOUTH-WEST BY-ELECTION

- “I am effectively pulling out of the contest. I am not asking anybody to vote for me. I am urging people to boycott the by-election as a protest.”

Independent candidate Ann Sweeney tries to withdraw from the election because the ballot was now a “complete farce”

THE LABOUR PARTY REVERSES ITS DECISION NOT TO DO A U-TURN AND THEN CHANGED ITS MIND

- “[I am] trying to do what people have been doing for a long time is to pin you and your colleagues down on where you stand in regard to measures that have to be taken. It seems that you are hunker-sliding now from the position you adopted on the Late Late Show?”

RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke tries to secure the scarlet pimpernel, Eamon Gilmore, on whether he would reverse the budget cuts

- “I stand over that statement . . . because I don’t think that anybody in the coming election can get into promises that may not be deliverable after an election.”

Mr Gilmore said there is nothing contradictory in his statements

WHO IS IN CHARGE

- “Your party says now that you are going to renegotiate the minimum wage . . . and that, I am afraid, is completely nonsensical because this was the first demand of Olli Rehn and others that this had to be in the plan.”

Environment Minister John Gormley tells Fine Gael TD Phil Hogan the European Commission was actually pulling the strings on the plan

- “The EU/IMF/ECB saw an outline of the plan over the weekend and indicated their broad approval. The Cabinet have had long intensive meetings on the plan in recent weeks and nothing was taken out or added to the plan on the instigation of these international bodies.”

The Department of Finance is adamant the Government was in charge of its own plan.

THE LEADERS KEEP THEIR CHARGES IN CHECK

- “Try and rein her in now and again.”

Taoiseach Brian Cowen tells Eamon Gilmore how to handle his finance spokeswoman, Joan Burton, and is castigated for sexism

- “The Taoiseach should try to rein in some of his men.”

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore tells Brian Cowen how to handle his backbench TD Frank Fahey

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