Eamon Gilmore - Labour Party Leader
The latest Irish Times MRBI Poll, published today, shows the Labour Party under the leadership of Eamon Gilmore heading the posse with 32% of the populist vote. Listening to the Pat Kenny radio programme, I find it incredibly irritating to hear whinging Fianna Failers and Fine Gaelers denigrating the rise in support for both the Labour Party and its leader with references to the demise of Gordon Brown and the Labour Party in Britain and the problematic socialist government in Spain and suggestions that Eamon Gilmore and his troops would not be able for the challenges that this financial fiasco wrought. Yeah right... if the situation wasn't so serious ... one would be forgiven for laughing into their pallid, overweight faces. As it is, they are stupid, arrogant, and insulting! Yes, there is a world recessional crisis and perhaps, as happened in Britain during the National Emergency of World War II, there could be a real argument for a national government in this country.
Everyone knows that An Taoiseach Brian Cowen's economic policies as Minister for Finance under Bertie Ahern exacerbated the impending financial disaster. I believe Bertie Ahern knew about the impending financial disaster before most and that was much more likely the reason for his flght from office, than the unearthing of a laundry filled with dirty washing by the Mahon Tribunal. To a large degree, I think Brian Cowen is carrying the can for Bertie, who is getting away scott-free at the moment. Ironically, disgraced Charlie Haughey warned of Bertie. Paraphrased it went something like, 'Well if you think I'm bad, watch out for Bertie Aherne!'.Well he would know, wouldn't he? Back in the 80's Brian Lenehan Snr. carried the can for him. In all honesty, how does the present government expect the people of this country to trust them to lead us out of this financial hell-hole, when they are largely to blame for dropping us in there in the first place.
No-one is suggesting for a moment, that the Labour Party is in a position to win a general election, should one be called for in the morning, but people are looking at them seriously as a strong alternative party for government for the first time. It is becoming increasingly obvious that Ireland is finally moving away from Civil War politics, even if it that has only been brought about through financial necessity. Over the last ten years there has been an enormous influx of immigrants settling on this island, enriching us, for the most, with their language and culture. While we are a part of the much larger family of Europe, it is still vitally important that Ireland upholds the individual dynamics of its identity. During the years of the Celtic Tiger, Green Ireland became Beige Ireland.
The tourist industry, which includes every single one of us, has to re-evaluate its approach to visitors and holiday-makers. Ireland has a gloriously, varied geographical and cultural landscape, that should be treated like gold. (Mind you, Ireland has just come in at the bottom of an EU safe-bathing list. Lads, isn't it enough to be up to our necks in s--t , without having to swim in it!) Ireland was once known world-wide for its hospitality, but there is no doubt that that perception has been changing over the last decade or so. Truth is, we have become lazy, living off our reputation. One thing is for sure. The 'ripping off' should STOP NOW!
Back to the rise of the Labour Party. I have been a Labour woman all my life, not because I have communist leanings, but because whilst trying to achieve a better life-style for myself and my family through hard work, I am still very aware of Johnny down the road, who is unable to work for whatever reason, Bill and Mary, on old-age pensions, who worked hard all their lives, and in so doing, contributed to the tax coffers of this island. As a socialist, I was hugely disappointed with the expense scandals of the Britain's Labour-led government and its decision to ally itself with the U.S.A. and invade Iraq without any evidence that they possessed weapons of mass destruction, or indeed, posed any justifiable threat to the West.
I think last year was probably one of the worst years I can remember. The people of this country lost faith in its spiritual, financial and political institutions in one scandal after another. All in the space of one year! What's most enraging, is that those who perpetuated those implosions, walked away with golden handshakes and pats on the back, as if they had only behaved like mischievous school boys. What sort of message is that sending out to those who won't get out of bed in the morning to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, or to those, for example, who find pushing drugs, pirate CD's etc.more lucrative.
I am not under any illusions about political party politics, but Ireland is in dire need of a change! There needs to be reforms in attitude and direction. The populus needs to see a fresh, dynamic government that is transparent, accountable, risk-taking, inclusive and hardworking. A mixture of business men, academics and socially-skilled motivators and interlocutors.
The rise in the Labour Party's popularity shows a desire for change if nothing else. Civil War politics are dying and not before time. There is undoubtedly some tough medicine to be taken, but a better bedside manner, from whoever leads this country, would make the swallowing process more palatable. Repeating a comment I made in a recent blog, when the leader of this country says loudly and clearly, that he has to answer to no-one, makes my blood boil, because I thought, perhaps naively, that we lived in a democracy.
An optimist at heart, I believe Ireland is perhaps not boxing towards the red corner, but dancing towards the light of a NEW DAWN!