Mar 062011
 

Labour and Fine Gael have published their policy document for government between now and 2016 — their statement of common purpose, as they call it.  You can download it here.

It looks hastily written.  The writing is haphazard, the punctuation is slipshod and the grammar is dreadful but all of these are good signs because they speak of a document hammered out in smoke-filled rooms by unshaven, sweaty men and women.  Unfortunately, much of it is rhetorical waffle, which I’ll  eventually fillet out before presenting you with the bones and the guts of it.  Why do I do these things?  Who knows?  It’s not as if I haven’t enough other jobs to be doing but hey, there ya go.  Watch this space.

Right now, I’m still in the post-FF phase, where I’m just glad to be rid of those incompetent crooks, but I’m sure reality will bite very soon. After all, the new ministers are already doing the time-honoured Open-Book Shuffle, a dance we haven’t seen in Ireland for many years.

Forget ideology.  We were always going to end up with a centre-right government, because this is a centre-right country, even if I don’t happen to like that fact very much.  I admire Joe Higgins and I agree with much of what he says.  If you’re a regular reader, you’ll have seen the rants here about the theft of our natural resources, and you can hardly have missed the fulminating about the criminal bail-out of the banks.  I’m with Joe 100% on this, and completely in disagreement with FF, FG and Labour.  We won’t bother talking about the irrelevant Greens or the defunct and highly toxic Progressive Democrats, whose laissez-faire policies seduced their troglodyte partners into the destruction of our country.

Pause there for one moment.  We might not bother talking about the Greens, but we might have something to say about Charlie McCreevy, buffoon-in-chief, PD fellow traveller and close confidant of Mary Harney, who managed simultaneously to derail our economy and alienate every single potential ally we have in Europe by his swaggering, ignorant, unlettered, blundering.  McCreevy, the only politician in history who needed an interpreter to convert his words to the same language he was speaking.  Now that’s arrogance.  He didn’t even care if you understood what he was saying.

Much of the task facing Kenny and Gilmore will be about undoing the damage caused by the fool McCreevy, the worst finance minister in Irish history, sent to Europe by the worst prime minister in the history of the land.

But to return to ideology for a moment, I have to tell you this.  I’m too old for labels.  I’ve lived through too many governments to care much what anyone calls me.  If you want to call me a Commie, that’s fine.  Some people do.  Others call me a right-wing fascist, which is unfair, since I’m not a fascist, but there are elements of right-wing policy I agree with.  I once had an outraged youth accuse me of being a Neo-Pragmatist whatever that  is.  There was drink involved, and perhaps a certain amount of herb.

I don’t agree with all the things this coalition is proposing.  I don’t agree that we should be putting a single penny into the banks. I don’t see why private debt should be a problem for the Irish people who did not incur that debt.  I don’t accept Brian Lenihan’s pious, sanctimonious sermon in which he said that we all partied.  To Yehudi Lenihan I say, So what if we did?  So what if every man Jack of us partied non-stop for ten solid years?  Are we not paying our debts?  How then are we part of the problem?

To Brian Lenihan I say, Fuck off!  I do not expect to pay the debts of a prating coxcomb like Sean Fitzpatrick, or a vile, grasping old miser like Fingers Fingleton.  I didn’t run up those debts.  Why do they belong to me, or to you or to anyone except the miserable crooks who took them on?

Let me put it a different way.  To the bankers and the property developers, I say: I wasn’t at the  party, so I’m not paying for the beer.

Deep breath.

I am not happy with the mainstream parties’ policy on this.  However, much though I admire Joe Higgins, and much though I would have voted for People Before Profit if they had bothered to remember that Ireland doesn’t end at the borders of Dublin, an overweening reality was always going to emerge.  Ireland is not ready for socialism.

Where does that leave people like me?  I want change now, not in a hundred years.  I want an end to the corruption of Fianna Fáil.  I don’t necessarily want a perfect government, because there is no such thing.

Ultimately, I’d like to see an end to irrelevant ideologies like Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, two parties which grew out of the struggle for power and influence in the 1920s, neither possessed of any clear beliefs or principles, and perhaps what we’re witnessing now is some staging point on the transition to that point..

I don’t know.

What I do know is that we have a country riddled with inequality, corruption and ineptitude, and I am fucking sick of it.

________________

Previously:

Reinventing Ireland

  55 Responses to “Labour and Fine Gael Agree Programme for Government”

Comments (55)
  1.  

    So am I. Well thought and written and I think it describes very well what many people in Ireland feel and think right now.

  2.  

    Great post. Shit situation.

  3.  

    Well Bock you wont be paying for the beer but you will certainly will be paying for the double brandies, those bastards dont drink beer. I agree with what you had to say but there is one thing we have to make sure of and that is that De Porridge and the FFailers never get their hands on the reins of power again.

  4.  

    They will get their hands on the reins again and you can already see the re-branding taking place. Come the next election – who knows? We’re a very gullible people.

  5.  

    Might it be that People Before Profit did not run any candidates outside of Dublin because they could not find anyone to run? The Irish electorate are soft right they have always been so , most especially outside of Dublin .Remember Dublin thrashed F.F. leaving only Lenihan. Limerick returned Willie. It very much remains to be seen if F.G./Lab will work I hope in spite of history they will.

  6.  

    Gary I agree that Ireland is soft right but I would include Dublin. The singt o labour was entiely a protest aginst FF who still got 20 seats to labours 36, not much of a thrashing. I don’t understand the mentality of Limerick people votng for Dilly O’Wee albeit with a much reduced first preference block and not elected until the 6th count, bastard shouldn’t be there at al.

  7.  

    No.8 The point that I was trying to make is Dublin disposed of the self-serving incompetent F.F. the rest of Ireland voted back the 20. As long as people vote because “I knew your father and you came to my grannies funeral” we will never change, and get what we deserve incompetent pothole fillers.

  8.  

    Do you think Charlie gives a shit, check out the list of directors names on the ryan air board and who do we find, none only the unintelligible bould charlie.Fitz fingleton and the rest don’t give a shit either, with fianna fake in along with the fat cats from the ICTU we are going to be rightly fucked. public services pay rises paid for by the rest of us.

  9.  

    I don’t think any of those people care.

  10.  

    Why would they care when they’re earning 6 figure salaries. They are so divorced from reality it ain’t funny. What ever about Charlie and co. but what about the sucessors to Big Jim Larkin? 6 figure salaries, company cars, directorships, true represntatives of the working man. Why people bother to join unions anymore is beyond me, and why closed shops haven’t been legally challenged remains a mystery.

  11.  

    I suppose people join unions to try and avoid getting fucked over by the likes of Dell and Ryanair.

  12.  

    I hear what you’re saying but unions now have more in common with the Dells and Ryanairs of this world than they do with their own members. SIPTU had to be sued by its own employees to ensure fair redundancy payments. My own union ITGWU fucked us over in wage negociations many years ago. Frank Prendergast was too close to company management to be healthy yet ran for the Dáil subsidised by my union dues. I never joined a union again. Labour is full of Champagne Socialists and are to left wing politics what Herrod was to child mining.

  13.  

    I think the last government managed to divide society by setting people against the unions and the public service, distracting attention from those who caused the catastrophe, namely the boys who bankrolled Fianna Fáil all those years. I have no doubt that you can identify waste and greed among public servants and union officials, but set in the context of the burden placed on us by the banks, their efforts at economic destruction seem feeble.

  14.  

    No 8, your comments about all unions are totally sweeping and as such, inaccurate in respect of many good trade unions. I have had nothing but good advice from my union(s) over the years and the present organisation I belong to employs two- three people in its headoffice at very resonable pay rates. As for the political fund of many unions, you are entitled not to pay that portion of your sub if you so wish.

  15.  

    Poll Dorcha my comments on unions are based on my experiences which form my opinions just as yours do. I’m delighted that you have had and continue to have a positive experience of trade unions but I could dismiss your comments as sweeping as they as based on solely on your experiences.

    Bock as much as I despise FF even I wouldn’t try to lay the blame for the unions PR shambles entirely on their doorstep. The likes of Jack O’Connor and co. live in a bubble compared to the standards of many of their members.

  16.  

    Part if not all of the problem with “The Unions” is that the members take no interest in the workings of the Union . They do not read or know the rules or how people are elected into office, in most cases people have to be elected or re-elected every few years . To the best of my knowledge all Unions have Branches to which members belong, every few years a committee is elected, they also elect a member or members to a National Executive committee who in turn elect an Executive committee who rule the Union. All members are subject to rule including full time officials. If a sufficient number of member have an issue with a rule or full time official these can be changed. Salaries are set by the Executive. As I have written most members neither know nor care for any of this and only contact the Union when they are in trouble. If “The Union” can not wave a wand and fix it, they are a crap Union. It is a bit like National Politics most people just don’t care until it is too late.

  17.  

    I don’t know why people focus so much on salaries.

    Perhaps union officials are paid too much. I don’t know. It’s likely that politicians’ salaries are inflated. Bankers certainly are over-compensated. But salaries, however infuriating, are a miniscule part of the problem we now face, and therefore a distraction from the real issues.

    Ninety billion debt is the real issue, most of which was not incurred by us, and while the salaries of politicians and union officials might be irritating, they’re no more than a flea-bite in the context of that number.

  18.  

    I suppose people are looking at salaries because of the recent cuts and financial penalties forced on the working public since the banking debacle became public. It is much easier pay the cuts and maintain a semblence of a lifestsyle when your salary is €92k plus expences for TDs plus €40k for each independent as they are party leaders. Money may not buy hapiness but it does ensure a better class of misery.

  19.  

    Dealing with SIPTU, when they were defending the indefensible for the last 5 years, when in most cases they know the individual is a complete waste of breath, but still try and fight for the best exit compromise for their brother member, tends to leave a bad impression of the modern day unions role.

    In defence of Michael O Leary/Dell, what you see is what you get, during the period of near full employment in this Country they never seemd to be short staffed, so in employment terms what you see is what you get, and people seemed to want to work for them.

    Neither men try and deceive and pretend to be running charities, they are running successful businesses. I would rather buy shares in their Companies, than Aer Lingus who paid out €30 million in error to staff at shareholders expense, and have less chance of a return or survival.

  20.  

    That is quite true, but nevertheless it has no influence on the solution of the huge problem facing the country. It just makes people more secure in their resentment.

  21.  

    LE — Our comments crossed.

    I have no idea what your first paragraph means so I won’t attempt to respond to it.

    In the second paragraph, you say that people seemed to work for Dell and Ryanair. Full marks for observation.

    In the third paragraph, you say that both men are running successful businesses. Again, full marks for observation, but do you have any views on why people join unions?

  22.  

    I presume that some people join unions for safety in numbers and to represented in industrial negociations by supposedly better tained people. Companies also look to encourage union membership to facilitate negociations with employees. The best company I ever worked for are English and have had a presence in the Republic for about 20 years. We were not unionised but we were treated fairly and with respect by some of the best managers I have ever worked for.

  23.  

    Of course, you’ll acknowledge that unions were not founded to deal with the best employers but with the worst.

  24.  

    People join Unions in some cases because they are deluded enough to think themselves equal to shareholders. A silly notion, workers are nothing more than cogs in the machine as far as the right wing wealthy are concerned the sooner we realise this the better. The loss of power for F.F. is just a temporary little glitch and will soon be rectified. The sick thing is a lot of active Trade Union members I know are card carrying members of F.F. As the Americans would say go figure!

  25.  

    People who join unions care nothing for shareholders. They join unions for protection.

  26.  

    Paragraph 1
    IMHO the biggest part of the modern union reps job is trying to get the best exit strategy package for somebody who should have been dismissed without recourse to their employer, as I witnessed on a regular basis, and it became the biggest part of my job to minimise the payout. They use to join for protection okay, after they had fucked up and had been suspended/sacked.

    Paragraph 2.
    If as you say people join unions to stop being fucked by Ryanair and Dell, they had no shortage of staff when people had more choice, who seemed to want to be fucked.

    Paragraph 3
    It’s more honest to your staff and shareholders to say this is what we do, and how we do it, than for example Aer Lingus, we think we can pay you off this way, oh, sorry we can’t we have to absorb €30 million of erroneus payments to staff, which we can’t afford in the current climate.

  27.  

    LE — Are you against the idea that workers would form a union?

  28.  

    No I’m not, but in my experience, what they find themselves doing day to day is defend people who have, stolen from their employer, or assaulted their co-workers, who may be a union member as well.(all real examples incidently) And any sense of fair play has already left the building.

    What they do in general I don’t have a problem with, but as mentioned above any modern switched on Company can manage this without relying on unions. If workers feel the need to join a union then the relationship between workers and employees is a bit damaged, and in a lot of cases this is the reason they have joined the union to exert an unfair advantage in an otherwise lost cause.

    Ryanair is an extreme example of most things, most employers are not out to just fuck with the staff. Theirs no great long term gain in that.

  29.  

    Let’s explore that a bit.

    The company is organised. Why not the workers?

  30.  

    The workers should be organised, they should also be honest, and respectful to their co-workers and their Supervisor, but their not, and thats more what your average union rep spends his day defending.

    How could you justify you job if you are negotiating for an individual who has stolen something and been caught red handed, or has lamped a co-worker, and really your trying just to get them a few quid they don’t deserve. What message does it send out to their co-workers, or to the person who has been assaulted or stolen from ?

    In a contracting situation stealing from the Client you could also compromise your co-workers future job prospects, as the contractor loses the contract. And they do

  31.  

    You seem to agree that the workers are entitled to organise.

    In my opinion, the faults you describe are to do with being human and are displayed as much by management as by workers, but have nothing to do with the principle of forming unions.

  32.  

    I would agree unions shouldn’t spend their time defending these people who are just “being human”

    But they do. Having just done 5 years opposite the desk from them wasting my time with this rubbish, working for an employer who would have been advised 7/10 of the time to pay rather then play by IBEC’s legal advisors.

    In fairness to some of the reps they know this is a waste of their time as well, but as mentioned above by No.8 this is the role most people see the unions performing, and are disengaged from what the union does for them the rest of the time. It’s more like an insurance policy for any time they get caught.

    They wouldn’t get involved with what the Union leaders pay themselves, and in the case of non-national workers wouldn’t dream of questioning this.

    It tends not to be the case that management go around assaulting staff, although you would be tempted, or that they would go out of their way to steal from them. the unions carrying out their main function have enshrined in law prevention of any organised stealing by a Company.

    Now I know it still happens, but most Companies don’t

  33.  

    Could I invite you to get away from your personal experience as a HR person and instead address the principle of union membership per se?

    I know that you have seen union people abusing their position. So have I, just as I’ve seen employers abuse their role. However, in my experience, arguing from the particular to the general never leads anywhere.

  34.  

    I wasn’t in HR, and I believe Percy should join the union, but he’s wasting his money

    Getting back to my general impression of union membership, employees don’t engage with the union unless there in deep shit.

    And the unions have grown accustomed to this cosy role. I don’t know what percentage of union membership is by non nationals, but this percentage of the membership, only join for insurance.

    They would have no idea what the unions stand for, or what they do when they are defending the indefensible.

  35.  

    Your comments gave me the impression you were in HR, but that’s not relevant. You still seem to be stuck in the personal motivations of a person joining a union.

    What are non-nationals?

  36.  

    The hard working Eastern europeans, and other nationals from other countries, who got off their arse and came to this country to do the jobs no one else wanted, and by doing this made a better life for themselves.

    What is the current collective name given to them ?

    People not born in ireland who come and live here and work ?? like me !

    You know the people Kevin Kiely wants to send back

  37.  

    It’s an interesting subject, but you’re introducing a separate issue there. Nothing in this post has anything to do with that.

  38.  

    You asked the question

    And in the context of the unions, a fair percentage of the people I dealt with were not born in Ireland and as such were not intrested in the working of the unions. (except of course)

    Is this perhaps why the unions have taken more feedom to do as they please and move the goalposts over the last few years ?

  39.  

    The question is simply the legitimacy of unions. Any discussion of people abusing their position is additional and extraneous.

  40.  

    If I might just jump in while the water is warm, the idea of a Union seems perfectly logical to me but it also seems that it is abused by all the main unions in this country. Unions are supposed to be used for mediation and not to be used to the detriment of either employer or employee. This is clearly not the case in modern unions. There is an entitlment culture in a broad section of Union middle managment which is detrimental to both parties interests. In my humble opinion there are more honest employers that Union heads.

  41.  

    Can you quote research in support of that statement?

  42.  

    Which statement. I think it is clear from all the statements I made above that I am giving an opinion. I wouldn’t presume to walk into someones house and ask them to justify their decoration decisions in the same way I wouldn’t presume to ask you to justify with research what you write on this site. However In my opinion the points I make above are valid. If we look at the Croke Park agreement entered into by the previous Government with the Civil Service unions I would hope that we could agree that some ( not all) the points agreed by the Unions didm’t have the employers ( us) best interest at heart. Big Unions in my opinion don’t have sight of the small picture and sometimes use nukes when a bow and arrow would do. There is a theory that the reason so many multi national companies set up in this country is because the Unions have yet to reach the level of power that they do in France and Germany and the corporation tax is not as important as people make out as those countries give significant tax breaks in other areas to negate the rate in this country.
    But then that’s just an opinion.

  43.  

    I know you gave it as opinion, but it’s a very big thing to say that there are more honest employers than union heads and I think it deserves to be supported by some sort of evidence

  44.  

    I am member of SIPTU, I am also Shop Steward elected by my fellow workers to represent them within the company we work for.

    Yes, we are human, we make stupid mistakes, as does the company from time to time. It has taken a long period of time for a semblence and balance of trust and respect to be developed here. It has been through negotiation, common sense and of course legislation that we have finally arieved at a level where we both ( company and workforce ) see our strenghts, our compatibilities and indeed our weaknesses.

    As a result the workplace has become a much livlier place, any discontent is channeled and discussed. Managment communicate ( and believe me that is such a victory in itself ) its needs and wants in a more agreeable way. People who may steal or abuse their position be they management or employee are disciplined in line with a conpany/union agreement. It is dealt with in a very understanding way. Even in a court of law a person is entitled to a defence, no matter what the crime. As a result of the improvements both with the workforce and the conditions of work plus the productitivity increase, management in our job are most reluctant to dismiss anybody. Indeed they would rather see an employee seek help and offer any assistance to that employee rather than sack them. That being said, if the employee was not interested in helping himself then the inevitable would happen and it has.

    What i am trying to say here is that without the Union in place this company would not have put in place a more caring situation vis a vis their employees, the staff turnover would be high and the company`s name would be bad amongst it`s clients and potential employees.

    Respect is a two way street, sometimes lacking in both the employer and the employee and indifference is the way to ruin the business. All employers and employees have a duty of care, they need to be constantly reminded of this. On the employees side is where I, as a Shop Stewerd, come in, in that capacity.

    All business is set up to make a profit, be they Dell or Ryanair or any other type of company. Unfortunately some of those that run these company`s show all respect to the shareholders and absolutely none to the workforce involved. That is why people join Union`s, to protect themselves from bullying and abusive employers and to have their rights vindicated. The duty of care on both sides needs to be policed in order that there is dignity at the workplace.

  45.  

    Well All these Union officials profited from the slush fund operated under the guise of a partnership fund worth €4,000,000. The guys that all went on junketts were Matt Merrigan (SIPTU) Jack Kelly (SIPTU) Peter McLoone (IMPACT) Kevin Callinan (IMPACT) Peter Bunting (ICTU). The public accounts Commitee noticed that their fact finding missions always seemed to fall close to March 17 whatever that means? These Unions SIPTU €342,000, IMPACT €112,791 and INMO €127,491 paid back this money for no reason and no admission of guilt! If I was paying dues I would like to know why that money was given away!
    I hope this example is sufficient.

  46.  

    You are not the only one sick of it, Bock.

    But to look on the bright side of life, as the man sang, this state of affairs can only be temporary. Two things will make the programme for government irrelevant within two years, and, unsurprisingly, they are not mentioned in the programme. Firstly, if we continue to pay the banker tax at the actual level proposed, public health, education and social security will have to be slashed much more than is envisioned. Secondly, by cutting public expenditure so drastically, the domestic economy will shrink further, cutting tax take and employment, in the classic deflationary cycle, at the same time as non-wage input costs inflate.

    The level of misery this will inflict I don’t think people have yet come to terms with. When it happens I hope it will finally convince sufficient people that the (understandable) hope that by electing a party big on the rhetoric of change and competence to do exactly the same as the previous government isn’t going to fly.

    From then on it’s up to us to get inventive.

  47.  

    In a Dublin Nursing home an old priest lay dying. For years he had faithfully served the people of the nation’s capital.
    Knowing he had very little time left, he motioned for his nurse to come near.

    “Yes, Father?” said the nurse.
    “I would really like to see Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowan before I die”, whispered the priest.
    “I’ll see what I can do, Father”, replied the nurse.

    The nurse sent the request to Dail Eireann and waited for a response. Soon the word arrived; Bertie and Brian would be delighted to visit the priest. As they went to the hospital, Ahern commented to Cowen, “I don’t know why the old priest wants to see us, but it will certainly will help our images and might even get me elected to the Presidency at Áras when Mary moves on”. Cowen agreed that it was the right thing to do at this time.

    When they arrived at the priest’s room, the priest took Bertie’s hand in his right hand and Brian’s hand in his left. There was silence and a look of serenity on the old priest’s face.

    The old priest spoke quietly and slowly, “I have always tried to pattern my life after our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
    “Amen”, said Bertie
    “Amen”, said Brian.

    The old priest continued, “Jesus died between two lying thieving bastards; I would like to do the same….”

  48.  

    Fucking paedphlie priest, good joke tho Nollaig!

  49.  

    Islandbank, in your capacity as Shop steward have you or your colleagues ever received training from your union in terms of, Employment law, IR practice, negociations etc.

  50.  

    I would not be sure this Country is centre right.
    first of all the people hit hardest were the small self-employed subcontractors. The big builders got the money didn’t pay the subcontractors who have gone bust. They can;t claim social welfare and can’t afford to sue the builders. even then they are at the bottom of the list of creditors and can be sued if they dont finish work even if they haven’t been paid.
    local government costs and upwards only rents. cost of insurence and professionals, all fuck up the small man working hard to do his best,.
    To me pepole who cant be let go even when there is no work for them any more, professionals who, no matter where else in the world you qualify you cant practice. people who when there was full employment and most shops had notices in their windows still had no job.Tthe far right and the far left, both in their own way riding the country.
    Both full of theirown entitlements.

  51.  

    No8, sorry for not getting back to you, I was away.

    There is a scheme in place with SIPTU to further our roles as Shop Stewards. This would cover Employment Law and Negotiations. I have never availed myself of it. I don`t understand what IR practice is. If we are in need of such information it is available to us or the union organiser will attend with us in any negotiations with the company.

    SIPTU encourage all members to avail of all courses and have agreements with employers to allow their employees to take paid time off to attend such courses.

  52.  

    Curious Bock what your take was on the above? I am sure you don’t answer all the crackpots but I was wondering if you thought the point was made?

  53.  

    Sorry. I don’t follow you. What’s the above?

  54.  

    That would have been a latenight comment after a few cocktails. I think I was looking for some closure from my comment about the Unions. Ah the power of porter.

  55.  

    I understand perfectly.

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