Jam and its postponement

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A week or so back I was watching Simon Coveney on the TV. The Fine Gael minister was telling anyone who’ll listen that his party are all set to build thousands of houses and they’ll do even more in the future.  This from a man whose party is witnessing well over 2,000 homeless people in Dublin alone, with well over 1,000 of those children.

This makes Simon a first cousin of Leo Varadkar, the Health minister in the south. Leo, who was a doctor himself, says he’s going to start making the south’s  health service really really efficient and as near as dammit to free for the very old or the very young; what’s more, they’ll be looking after the part of the electorate in between the very old and the very young in next to no time. This in a state where a homeless man died on the street within a stone’s throw of the Dail a year or two back, and where people in hospitals are currently sleeping in corridors, have to endure appalling wait-times before they get to see a consultant (assuming they’re not rich), and who get more than €50 removed from their purse every time they bring a child to the doctor.

How do people like Simon and Leo manage to get people to believe this sort of balderdash?  You have Fine Gael, senior partner in a government which has spent some five years squeezing the life out of people who are barely getting by. Then an election peeps above the horizon and Fine Gael ministers tell the people: “We’ve reached the turning point, hooray.  You’ve been so good at making sacrifices,  we’re almost the most booming state in the world. So obviously it makes sense to re-elect us, otherwise all your sacrifices will be frittered away by economic illiterates. If you vote for us in this next election, we’ll  see you’re rewarded for all noble sacrifices you’ve made while we were in government”.

Maybe it’s less a question of people believing this codswallop and more one of people giving up on politicians ever delivering on promises. So  they vote instead for the guy with the friendly manner or the woman with the nice dress-sense,  sure who knows, they might by accident do something right. So they vote in the same old same olds, and find themselves back in that bad place where it’s no jam today but definitely jam tomorrow.

I have a possible solution:  everyone in the electorate must be forced to read George Orwell’s novel 1984.  In it the author deals extensively with the public memory. Through government manipulation, people’s vocabulary is restricted, and so they struggle to remember what actually happened in the past. Were things really worse than they are now? Were we really promised such-and-such, or  are we just dreaming someone promised us something? Maybe in Orwell’s fictional  characters the south’s electorate might recognize themselves, and take the necessary steps for real change.

Sometimes, to make it simpler for people, candidates stand for election on a one-issue ticket.  They might be anti-water charges, for example. So people vote for them or against, depending on whether they agree on water charges.  The price for this clarity, unfortunately, is that it leaves out an awful lot. Things like health and  education, for example.  Your chosen candidate might have it spot on about water charges, but might be hugely uninformed about hospital waiting lists or the collapse in teacher morale. Single-issue people provide focus, but alas they offer a blind eye on just about everything else.

As you’ve probably noticed, there are quite a number of Irish people who like to take their cue from England. If the Brits are doing it it’s probably good, and certainly a lot better than we paddies could ever come up with, left to our own devices.  Which is why you’ll see so many Irish TV programmes that are a sickly imitation of what’s across the water.

Over the next two months, when people in the south will decide who’s to form their next government, Fine Gael must be hoping that the Irish electorate will take their cue from the British electorate. Having endured savage cuts and economic stagnation under Tory rule, the British put the Tories back in with an over-all majority. Enda Kenny must be hoping the Irish people of the south will do likewise, and give him and his party an increased majority.  And guess what? The polls are suggesting that’s  just what they will do.

As Shakespeare said: If you have tears/Prepare to shed them now.



21 Responses to Jam and its postponement

  1. Iolar December 29, 2015 at 11:22 am #

    “I’ll end the scandal of patients on trolleys.” An Taoiseach

    Meitheal is an ancient Irish tradition of a group of people working together for a common purpose. The tradition is alive and well. A man from Longford died on Christmas day, Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. He was buried in his native Saints’ Island. His remains were taken across a kilometre of a flooded causeway on a tractor. The funeral was made possible by the actions of the local community who provided tractors, dug the grave and made sure the procession could pass safely.

    Many people in the west of Ireland remain stranded in their homes as a result of floods and there is more bad weather on the way. The current administration has no control over the elements. A previous administration had some control of the economy and squandered opportunities to invest in infrastructure and quality public services. People now leave the country, die on the streets or on trolleys in hospitals. Neighbours are left to bury the dead.

    The words of the song tell us,

    “Things can only get better…”

    Dream on. Orwell said,

    “Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful…and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

    The current administration’s track record is one of broken promises, the return of gombeen men and stealth taxes. Gale force winds are forecast. They too will pass. Perhaps the Gaels of change will sweep through the corridors of Dáil Éireann in 2016. Things can get better or worse, it is a matter for the electorate.

  2. Mary Jo December 29, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    I remember – they promised to burn the bondholders, introduce free health care, reduce hospital waiting lists, end the A&E crisis. We generously took in a handful of refugees, then robbed them of their refugee status and entitlements.
    I won’t vote FG but fear there are sheep out there who will. Heaven protect us from an overall FG majority.

    • Iolar December 29, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

      There was no trolley wait for Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani after he suffered a fracture. A spokesperson for Switzerland’s Federal Office of Civil Aviation confirmed reports that multiple aircraft, including an airbus, made unscheduled landings at the Zurich-Kloten airport overnight from 25 to 26 December and that the planes were part of the Qatari royal fleet.

      Sligo County Council’s budget remains in the red following a royal visit, floods are causing havoc in Ireland and England as bombs continue to kill and maim in Pakistan and other theatres of conflict.

  3. Jim.hunter December 29, 2015 at 11:47 am #


  4. paddykool December 29, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    As you say, Jude……
    “everyone in the electorate must be forced to read George Orwell’s novel 1984. In it the author deals extensively with the public memory. Through government manipulation, people’s vocabulary is restricted, and so they struggle to remember what actually happened in the past.”
    The greatest problem is that many, many people never really read. Just as almost half the population do not vote at all, many never lift a book again ,after their brief schooling. It’s a sure thing that if the habit doesn’t stick during childhood there will be precious little reading done thereafter. Even reading newspapers is a dying habit and much of the web-driven stuff is geared for those with a short attention -span. It’s unlikely that unless something like Orwell’s work has been tackled at school, it will lie untouched forever. People find it easier to watch television which requires no real engagement other than the ability to raise a limb slightly and press the button on a remote control. In that respect the population are being fed mostly drivel and wishful- thinking fantasies.Baking programmes and cooking programmes abound across the channels and as you imply , there are now special Irish versions of Masterchef and the Great British Bake-off copying the template…… but few have the time to get off the sofa and try out any of the recipes for themeselves.Chances are that all the wonderful dishes they are witnessing being created for them actually taste like grass or are as flavourless as sawdust.How would the viewers ever know? The one good thing about all of this is that it creates a commonality across Europe and the world, much as music and fashion does, and reminds people that when you get to bottom we are all just the same big tribe of consumers right across the board.
    Mind you , it doesn’t seem to make much difference which part of the island or the world we live in, we still seem to continue voting for people who will ultimately misuse us or our resources. In the UK , a century of industrialisation has resulting in a land unfit to resist flooding .There is no permeable land left to soak away the falling rains.As the planet continues to heat up anwaters rise as climate changes, people are flooded out of their homes and cash is diverted without a whimper to fight wars elsewhere.There’s always money for warfare and there are always ways of convincing people standing in their flooded rooms to spend it on bombs .
    Yes , it is all part and parcel of the same grand illusion we all share.It’s as wonderful a scam as how a fairly average”royal” family has convinced a population of several millions that they should be shown a special deference as though they were “special” human beings and somehow better than everyone else. You might say that people deserve everything that they get, I suppose.

  5. neill December 29, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    Imagine supporting a party that said they wouldn’t cave in over benefit cuts and they would never break there word over this and then yet… So it’s obvious that republicans can spot political climbs downs from other parties after all they are very good at that themselves why would you trust Sf?

    • Ryan December 29, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

      Last time I looked Neill both SF/DUP have got the best package in the UK/Republic when it comes to benefits. There’s no water charges here, University fees aren’t nearly £10,000 a year like they are in England, etc and I seem to remember SF got extra money to the tune of 500 million to £1 billion pound out of the tories to shield the impact of cuts. Of course, the DUP from the very beginning said there no more money and we had to settle for the tories original plan (strange how they adopted this line just after they had a picnic with David Cameron at Number 10 Downing Street, eh?…) but yet the outcome was different due to SF’s objections. There was extra money put aside to shield against tax credit cuts but since the tories abandoned those cuts that money can be used for something else.

      The deal done by SF/DUP with the British Government wasn’t perfect but it was as close as they were going to get. The alternative was letting the Assembly fall, letting full tory cuts come in and, worst of all, leave a massive political vacuum to be filled by the extremist elements of both Republicanism and Unionism, basically rewinding the clock and a strong possibility of a return of violence on our streets.

      So tell us Neill, what would you have done? Or is sniping from the side lines just your thing?

      • Mark December 29, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

        Hi there Ryan, we do have water charges in occupied Ireland, mine, paid through my Rates, or ‘council tax/poll tax’ are approximately £340/annum,
        In the free state, I refuse to pay, like approx. 65% of the population here, but will go up, and up, and up. There will be no real benefit to the water supply we obtain, we already, or those with good old free state cars do, for water through their road tax, vehicle excise duties.
        If you’re open to a piece of advice, when SF, or DUP, or any of those other annoying parties call seeking your support in a few months, seek an assurance they will not introduce double billing for this utility, as there now is in the free state, I mean, the hun’s bombed Ireland in the ’40’s, why should we now have to pay their gambling debts?
        Sorry for the rant, bit of a sore point with some of us.

      • neill December 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

        They said they wouldn’t back track from their position and they did Ryan what part of that don’t you understand?

        Its a shame we have so many unquestioning types in Northern Ireland

        • Ryan December 29, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

          Neill, Sinn Feins position was they would have safeguards to protect the most vulnerable in our society and it can be easily argued that they got those safeguards, over half a billion pounds in extra funding. £200 million was set aside to protect people from tax credit cuts (which will not be going ahead now), extra money as a “top up” on benefits, etc.

          That’s the part you don’t understand Neill.

          • neill December 29, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

            Oh I understand ok we would have been so better off if they had followed through on the previous deal however Adams back tracked and now we have a very much worse deal.

            Still if SF says its good you being a little sinnerbot must agree.

  6. Mark December 29, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    Dr. Varadkar, a real Doctor, with experience working to make Irish people better, once minister for transport, he made a complete hames of this, just ask a bus driver, or Simon, another hereditary Deputy, just like Enda the Fuhrer of the next blueshirt, or is that ‘shit’ revolution?
    Simon, a graduate of Agriculture, in one of his first ministerial interviews, then as minister for agriculture, stated, with no correction from the interviewer, that Ireland’s most exported vegetables were spud’s, he used the word potatoe but sure, and mushrooms!
    I grew up on a farm in mid-Ulster, we grew spud’s and mushrooms, indeed I think my Daddí was one of the first in Ireland to grow mushrooms, transporting the horse dung, to which I shall return later, and mixing the crap himself, later assisted by his big son, myself.
    The key thing is, the inability of the(se) ministers to get their facts correct, and the wholesome inability of our free state electorate, to see through this fact.
    Dr. Varadkar is presiding over longer trolly waits than any of his FF predecessors, if you’re a patient at Ireland’s worst hospital, the Adelaide & Meath, you’re uncomfortable enough with several misdiagnosis without having to spend thirty six hours in a corridor on a trolly then hear the good Doctor rambling about how trolly waits have reduced, again with no RTE or Newstalk corrections.
    Simon, now minister for our defence, and, as above, a graduate of agriculture, has no idea what the difference between a vegetable, a tubur and a fungus actually is!
    With these two likely to succeed our current incumbents to Taoiseach agus Tainisté I wonder will we have a country we want to reunite in a few years?
    On Simon, or is that now, simple Simon, what a load of horse crap!,

  7. Ryan December 29, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    I knew when I was reading this that I read it somewhere before and then I realized it was published in the Andersontown News.

    I think the only reason David Cameron got re-elected in Britain was due to one reason and one reason only: Ed Miliband. I thought it at the time and it was definitely confirmed after the British General Election and that is Labour elected the wrong brother to be their leader and now Labour (and the poor and most vulnerable of Britain) have paid the price for it: another 5 years of tory rule.

    I will be honest I was surprised by how high the likes of Fine Gael were polling, if you were to ask me 2 years ago where I thought FG were on the polls in 2 years time I would’ve said the bottom of the heap but that’s not the way its turned out. I think its likely Fine Gael will come through the upcoming General Election in decent shape (having a slavish media backing you does come in handy) but Irish Labour will be massacred, Irish Labour will be like the Liberal Democrats in the UK. I see Sinn Fein doing very well and increasing their TD seats at the expense of Labour. Could SF make a coalition along with the likes of Labour (whats left of them…) Fianna Fail and a collection of independents? Its very possible and it could happen.

    To SF the southern election is by far the most important next year but the Assembly election will be interesting too. There’s a thin chance that Sinn Fein could hold the office of First Minister (it makes no difference in terms of powers because the Deputy and FM have exactly the same powers) next year if the UUP take a big bite from the DUP’s seats then that could make SF ease through. Many political commentators now think the DUP has reached its peak and its a downhill slope from here on, hence maybe just one of many reasons why Robbo jumped ship.

    • Jude Collins December 29, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

      Repetition for, um, the sake of emphasis, Ryan…

  8. billy December 29, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

    yep homeless dying on the street.and these refugees being taken by the hand beggars belief.

    • Jude Collins December 29, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

      You don’t think the state is capable of looking after both, billy?

      • billy December 29, 2015 at 8:13 pm #


  9. Mark December 29, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    Ryan, just on Robbo MacSpiddiog, I strongly suspect the reason he has gone now is unionist unity, as you hint, there is a chance Sinn Féin will win sufficient support to hold the role of Phriom Áire in the six county legislature, what they require are greater number of soft
    unionists to vote tactically ensuring a majority of DUPpies are in place to remain the largest party in Dundonald.
    In light of what has happened him in the past, the possibility the media may leak more details in respect of his family/business dealings, and of course, the slight possibility the official unionists may actually otherwise take sufficient votes from them to permit SF take the coveted position (albeit a shared office) has led to the implanting of wee Arlene Kelly, formerly of the same official unionists, to role of Phriom Aire.
    In the free state, I suspect, people will, as in 2011, vote for an alternative which provides the hopeless with some ‘hope’.
    Sinn Féin will benefit greatly from this, as I think, will independents, regardless of Jude’s analysis above, people, once resolutly Fianna Fáil, have now abandoned civil war politics and gone to real politics, what is best for me and my children?
    Unfortunately, so long as vested interest politics continues in the free state, and the occupied territory, we are unlikely to see real politics emerge just yet anywhere nationally.
    Ta bron orm go sinn. .

    • Ryan December 30, 2015 at 1:40 am #

      I agree with much of what you say Mark. I think everyone knows Unionist Unity will happen sooner or later, the fear of “them’uns” and keeping “them’uns” out is stronger than their own bickering. But ultimately its a sticking plaster solution and reveals how unwilling Unionists are to “reach out to Catholics”. Its my opinion that any serious Unionist outreach to Catholics/Nationalists will only be done as an absolute last resort. After all, those pesky papists cant be trusted and the Orange Philosophy of slamming the Gates shut and squealing “No Surrender!” over the battlements is very strong with Unionism.

      At the minute, as in the past, the problem within Nationalism is lack of co-operation between Sinn Fein and the SDLP. I think it was the late Fr. Alex Reid that said the reason why we don’t have a United Ireland is because Nationalism wont unite and work together and I agree there. The most recent example of this lack of co-operation within Nationalism was in May’s election when Fermanagh-South Tyrone was won by the UUP’s Tom Elliot when the DUP and UUP made a pact but the SDLP (who didn’t have a chance of winning the seat and didn’t even bother to put up a decent candidate) refused all co-operation with SF and because of this its left a Nationalist majority area to be represented by a bigot like Tom Elliot for 5 years but it’ll be won back. Everyone knows the SDLP did this out of spite.

      A UDA related magazine recently said that it was very important that the SDLP “flourish”. I’m sure many Nationalists will agree with me that the SDLP is more of hindrance to Nationalism than they are a benefit, hence why the UDA, a terrorist group who prided itself on “romper rooms” where they tortured Catholic civilians to death are now encouraging support for the SDLP. Lets just hope that the decline of the SDLP continues (as it most certainly will) or that they come to their senses and co-operate.

      Both SDLP and SF should do more to reach out to the normal Protestant voters who are moderate and couldn’t give a fiddlers fart for Orange Parades or how many days a year a flag flies but are more concerned about stability, equality, bread & butter issues, etc.

  10. Perkin Warbeck December 29, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

    Back in the dear dead days not quite yet beyond recall, Esteemed Blogmeister, there dwelt in an obscure cul de sac in a remote corner of a distant Dublin parish and/or in a backwater suburb of Baile Atha Cliath, a shopping list of headscarved housewives / oulwans.

    What marked them out from other similar type shopping lists was their collective interest in politics. That is, politics not of the domestic variety, the type which prevails within the four walls and under the chimbley of the fambily home. The politics in which ALL such shopping lists have an intense and obsessive interest.

    This shopping list thought outside the box, long before the term had been coined and/or minted. The female principle being fundamentally communal, not only did their initial interest in non-domestic politics coincide each with the other, but their regular spiking of interest in politics, both local and general, did ditto.. Which in the Free Southern Stateen politics occurred every five years or so, in tandem with the elections, oddly enough.

    Now this interest in politics might well have had to do with an intense study (individual) of such eminent political philosophers as Machiavelli followed by a brainstorming session (communal) in each other’s houses, on a rotational basis.

    Or, it may even have had to do with a local greengrocer whom one will call Mac, for obvious reasons. Possibly even to do with his actual name. Mac, anyway, was in bad odour with the shopping list in question. Mac had a charming way of shortchanging his customers by a variety of sneaky dodges, such as tampering with his weighing scales where the vending of, say, vegetables was the transaction in hand.

    Although none of the suspicious shopping list could prove this alleged mountebankery , nonetheless this lack of evidence did not prevent them from arriving at a definite verdict of unanimous guilt. Unanimity being a particularly female attribute (see under communal above).

    Mac, as well as being a greengrocer, male, was also passionately interested in politics of a non-domestic sort. This interest expressed itself primarily in his disinterested donations of an obese nature to a particular political party. And secondarily, in his being nominated for the inevitable third and last candidate on that party’s ticket, in both local and national elections. Even though he was, surprisingly perhaps, a serial loser of deposits.

    And the more he stood, the less he understood. In such matters as, say, his generous ferrying of the shopping list (see above) of headscarved housewives both to and from the polling booth. His commodious Morris Oxford serving as a free, gratis and improvised taxi for the occasion.

    His only stipulation (delivered in an offhand, throwaway manner as the passengers first disembarked and later embarked) was that the ladies would ‘not forget him’. Nor did they, in what they joyfully referred to as their ‘Free Jaunt’, even as they chorused first in the manner female and communal;

    -Don’t worry, we won’t !

    followed five minutes later by a five-part:

    -Don’t worry, we didn’t !

    This shopping list has, sadly, long since been added to the roll call of honour by the Arch Angel Michele in the Great Shopping Mall out yonder,, so, fast forward to the Here and Now.

    Specifically, to the laborious lady known as Joan Burton, aka the Technicolour Yawnaiste. Who keeps coming up with it, repeating, repeating repeating. And who, alas, does not confine her politics to the strictly domestic.

    This time it is she who has,erm, filched the clothes of the Fianna Failures. Donning the peaked cap of the Taxi-driver and promising each and every Wrinkly a freshly laundered fiver, with twenty added on, and on a weekly basis.

    Na dearmadaigh, a leitheoir dil, an liosta siopadoirechata thuasluaite / Remember, dear listener, the shopping list above..