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WHILE understanding why the Taoiseach needed to reduce the number of junior ministers, I wonder about the reasoning or motive behind the surprise demotion of Kilkenny deputy John McGuinness.
Apart from the fact that his track record as a minister was impressive at both national and local level (he worked hard to attract new industry and job creation to his constituency), I wonder what part the deputy’s tendency to “tell it like it is”, and hold his own party and the Government up to scrutiny, played in the decision to banish this very capable man to the Dáil backbenches.
He was most eloquent speaking on local radio of the challenges facing post-Celtic Tiger Ireland and delivered a no-holds-barred analysis of the economic crisis.
There will undoubtedly be a sense of unease — and not just in Kilkenny I suspect — about the perceived punishing of a deputy who dared to stand up and criticise the Government of which he is a part.
Only a few weeks ago we had the Kafkaesque scenario whereby uniformed gardaí came knocking on the doors of a national radio station demanding to know the identity of the artist who painted the Taoiseach in a less than flattering pose.
Before that there were rumblings of discontent within Fianna Fáil about the leader’s dictatorial manner.
If Deputy McGuinness was shafted because he spoke the unpalatable truth, then he deserves praise and recognition for that.
And maybe Mr Cowen needs to be reminded we live in a democracy where people have a right to speak their minds, especially on issues that affect the lives of every man, woman, and child in this country.
The Taoiseach is mistaken if he thinks he can keep a tight lid on criticism of the atrocious mess that his own party has made of the economy, with some help from dodgy developers and shady bankers.
Hopefully, more Fianna Fáil politicians will follow Deputy McGuinness’s lead and just tell us the truth.
Maybe then the great high wall of prevarication and political doubletalk that surrounds the present Government will come crashing down — like the stone one that the politically paranoid East German regime built to stifle dissent.
They might suffer career-wise for their outspokenness in the short term, but the electorate will surely reward them when the day of reckoning arrives and the proverbial sheep are separated from goats.
Lr Coyne Street
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