Incompetence of government is an open-and-shut case

WOULD we even notice if the Irish government shut down?

Incompetence of government is an open-and-shut case

Well, probably, but it might come as a relief to the many people appalled by the rather second-rate nature of our political class.

With extremists in the Tea Party faction of the congressional Republican party playing Russian roulette with the world economy, via their insane stand-off with President Barack Obama over his outrageous idea that poor people should have access to healthcare, the US government is paralysed. That chaos signals the long century of American global dominance is beginning to unravel rapidly.

Back home, we don’t need a bunch of right-wing freaks and fanatics to shut down our health service — we have James Reilly to do that all by himself.

The Health Minister has allowed a crisis to escalate over working hours.

Junior doctors will down stethoscopes next Tuesday and walk out in protest at being stretched to levels of exhaustion that put patients lives in real danger, while over-paid consultants (who used to have their gold-plated contracts negotiated by a certain J Reilly) are indulged and lavished in obsequious extravagance.

And let’s not forget that it is the same Dr Reilly who shuts down public beds, while being an investor in private beds.

Quick, someone, invoke the ‘political conflict of interest’ controls — oh, that’s right, this is Ireland, they don’t exist.

But, strangely, Reilly can’t shut down the massive overspends in his department, but, then, numbers have always been a bit of problem, given that he has still to shut down the massive debt he owes as part of a business consortium — he failed to comply with a ruling of the High Court.

Hmmmm, not the best moral footing for a Cabinet hell bent on dragging people through the courts for a conscientious refusal to pay a flat-rate property tax they view as grossly unfair and against natural justice. Meanwhile, Enda Kenny does not seem to notice the trail of destruction left by his disaster-laden Health Minister, as he is too busy trying to shut down the Senate.

And, in a curious embodiment of his political ethos, which appears to be an attempt to stand for everything and nothing, at the same time, Mr Kenny has shut-up about why he wants to shut down the Seanad, as the timid Taoiseach is too scared to take part in a TV debate about one of the most important constitutional changes in decades.

This has caused much concern to the Dáil’s biggest bluffer, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin, who had the nerve to wring his hands in the chamber this week and express disgust that the number of families in mortgage arrears had quadrupled since 2009. Erm, who was in power for half that period, Micheal?

Oh, yes, it was you — and what did you do about the exploding debt crisis? Oh, yes, absolutely nothing.

Mr Martin accused the Taoiseach of “surrendering” mortgage policy to the money men, which, given Mr Kenny’s willingness to be rode by the bailed-out bankers like a show pony at the county fair, is an allegation that can hardly be questioned.

But, as Mr Martin was foreign minister when he and his FF buddies surrendered national sovereignty to foreigners, after getting us into this collapse and shutting down large parts of the economy, should he not display a modicum of humility and self-awareness when discussing these issues, rather than contemptuously expect the electorate to have the memory of a particularly forgetful gold fish?

While Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton appear quite content to shut down the Labour party, as their feud sees support slither away to 6%, it appears the lust for power will leave them dumped in a shallow political grave, just like the unloved and unmissed PDs and Greens before them.

But, of course, the saddest shut-down of the week is that of the career of maverick TD, Peter Mathews.

For those sadly unfamiliar with Mr Mathews, he is the publicity-seeking missile who represents Dublin South, for Fine Gael — well, did, until he got slung-out for voting against the X-Case legislation and has now quit the party completely, in a flourish of self-righteous indignation.

This has left something of a hole in the party — the hole left by George Lee’s giant ego to be precise, so, perhaps, his departure will not trouble the Blueshirts too much, as they will no longer have to listen to his somewhat creepy, theatrical voice, which often sounds like treacle sliding down a blackboard.

Mr Mathews has now thrown his lot in with the Dáil’s own equivalent of the Tea Party — the Twee Party — otherwise known as the Lucindanistas.

Like lost worlds, the Blueshirt refugees orbit the ever-exploding Thatcherite sun that is Lucinda Creighton, drawn to her pull, clearly without the political intelligence to realise the south-side Evita’s main concern is not a coherent agenda for the self-styled Reform Alliance, but merely a one-item agenda: shutting down Enda Kenny’s premiership.

But it is unlikely the Twee Party will ever be able to wreak the havoc its fellow right-wing head bangers in the Tea Party so enjoy doing.

How ironic the Republican red-necks claim to be standing-up for “democracy” against a “dictatorial” president when, not only has his (unfortunately watered-down) healthcare overhaul received majority backing at the past two presidential elections, but his opponents only have a lock on the House of Representatives via vote-rigging.

As well as winning the White House and the Senate last year, the Democrats also won the House of Representatives — well, the popular vote for it, anyway.

It is only because the boundaries for House constituencies are decided at state level, and most of those states are controlled by Republicans who engaged in outrageous gerrymandering, that the “democracy-loving” Tea Party weirdos were able to gain a large majority in the congressional lower chamber.

The Republicans’ wanton political vandalism now threatens to push the global economy to the point of depression, as their bile has left the US trembling on the brink of default — meaning we all face being shut down sometime soon.

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