Latter-day conversion of FF/PDs hasn’t convinced anyone yet

A PANEL investigating the September 11 attacks has found that there was no “credible evidence” that Iraq had co-operated with al-Qaida on the attacks against the United States.

Had an Irish equivalent examined the events leading up to the recent elections and their fall-out, it would have come to a similar conclusion.

It would have found no "credible evidence" of a link between the Irish Government and the Irish people.

President George Dubya Bush was telling porkies on a global scale for his own political agenda, as was the Irish Government about cutbacks, secret or otherwise, and a lot of other things.

In the week since polling, the Government parties, largely Fianna Fáil, have been engaged in recriminations about who is to blame, when for the past few years they have been consistently told what the reason was. They were all deaf.

At least in the army, they weren't all deaf there were a handful who hadn't lost the faculty which was improved by the sound of cash falling into their bank account.

But the Government was, to misquote Labour leader Pat Rabbitte, congenitally incapable of hearing the silence from closed hospital wards or the crumbling of schools all over the country.

What they could hear were the demands for money from their friends in racecourses and rowing clubs, and they obliged accordingly and often.

Their profound deafness was a condition brought on by the arrogance of power and total amnesia as to why they were elected.

June 11, the day of the local and European elections, will go down in history as the day when the soldiers of destiny became the dad's army of Irish politics.

It was also the day that the Government of Fianna Fáil and their footnote partners, the Progressive Democrats, had their collective ears syringed by the electorate.

In the past week, since the devastating results began to dawn on them, the PDs have turned on FF, and FF backbenchers have turned on the PDs and their own Ministers. You would have to wonder whether Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is still suffering from a residual effect of that deafness, or whether, despite news reports, he was actually at the parliamentary party meeting the other evening.

During a four-hour meeting, Fianna Fáil backbenchers criticised the PDs, the remoteness of some Ministers, and the drift in the Government's policies.

They blamed everything and everyone, except themselves and their revered leader, he who has spurned a €1m job in Europe. Not a single word criticising the Taoiseach was uttered, though he led them to the greatest election disaster in the history of the party.

Omerta was the order of the day. And that's hardly surprising since he has announced there will be a major reshuffle next September and none of them is going to jeopardise the possibility of preferment by opening their mouths now. Certainly not about Bertie Ahern.

Apparently, there's an open sky policy as far as hanging out ministers to dry is concerned and plenty of the FF TDs have been bleating on about how the Ministers had never listened to them.

They are just as hypocritical because they followed the party line blindly and solidly and did what they were told when they were told.

It may be recalled that some months ago, a handful of FF TDs were ranting about grants for first-time house buyers, or it could have been a question of mortgage relief, and how determined they were to do something about.

Part of their strategy was to go into a parliamentary party meeting and tell Bertie and Charlie McCreevy there would be a revolt if they were ignored. They managed the part about going to the meeting all right, but once there they sat down to a lecture from the Minister for Finance. Then they were frogmarched into the Dáil chamber and voted the way they were told.

BERTIE AHERN has dismissed suggestions of a rift between Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats, although we have seen and heard members of his own party on national television getting in their retaliation. Yet Bertie Ahern said relations between the two parties were absolutely excellent.

The man must be in total denial or else he obviously believes people are thick stupid, something which he should have been disabused of with the election results.

Having predicted that her party would double their number of seats, understandably Progressive Democrat leader and Tánaiste, Ms Mary Harney is not a happy camper. Amazingly, she blamed the Government for her party's appalling but deserved performance.

She said the electorate had shown that it feels "let down" by the Government, and it was "urgent" that the Cabinet "reshuffle its approach" to some "tough decisions, but nonetheless important ones.

"If we got this result on the basis of having made tough decisions it would have been an awful lot better than having this result on the basis of making no decisions. There are some key areas where we have shown an incapacity in recent times to make the kind of decisions that can deliver change," she declared.

You would imagine that she was not a member of the Government and had no hand, act or part in its so-called decisions, instead of being, effectively, the deputy prime minister.

In that role, she borrowed a Government aircraft to travel to Leitrim to officially open an off-licence for a friend of hers. That was the kind of arrogance which provoked the reaction from the voters. Like her attitude during the Hugh O'Flaherty debacle when she commented that people wouldn't remember the controversy after three months.

Despite the "excellent" relations between FF and the PDs, as understood by the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste's comments drew a more practical response from Fianna Fáil Cavan/Monaghan TD, Brendan Smith.

Referring to her call for the need for some changes in Government policy he said, "the change that we need most and that we need now is less Progressive Democrat policy, and that is a view that is widely shared throughout Fianna Fáil by elected representatives and others.

No rift, Taoiseach? Of course not, it's just a little bit of innocent back-stabbing, something which the PDs are fairly adept at as well, something they learned in their earlier years before they fell off the FF branch.

Their ex-army man, Senator John Minihan accused the FF crowd of "childish behaviour," and of being "the same old faces delivering the same old mantra.

"If these people think that they can blame their disastrous election on the PDs they are in worse trouble than they realise," said the Cork South Central politician, on his way back to the high moral ground.

Like so many on both sides of the Government divide, the Senator also had a visit from the Holy Ghost since the votes were counted and has come to the conclusion that they need to listen to the people and act swiftly on their concerns.

Their latter-day conversion to the concerns of the people is rather similar to the realisation of St Augustine when he said: "Late have I loved Thee."

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