Thursday, April 23, 2009
The political and the human-reflections on demotion of John
Tonight is a difficult one for John McGuinness TD, a political adversary in our constituency who has not been reappointed to a Junior Ministry by Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD. On a human level this is a difficult time for John, his wife Margaret and all the McGuinness family, including my council colleague and opponent in the forthcoming local elections, Andrew. It is never easy to lose a position which you feel you have secured on merit, and one in which you have worked hard and in which you feel you have done well.
It is also a frustrating time for the McGuinness half of the Fianna Fáil team in Kilkenny who thought that by succeeding in topping the poll in 2007, and in the process, helping to deliver three seats out of five that enough had been done to secure the first step on the ministerial ladder for a politician who is, without a shadow of a doubt, bright and articulate. Indeed the McGuinness lieutenant on the Borough Council, Cllr. Joe Reidy tonight said on local radio that the step to a senior ministry was one they thought would happen sooner rather than later. Those of us of all political persuasions hoped that a senior ministry would come to Kilkenny sooner rather than later, as it is now twenty seven years since we had that honour and all it brings with it.
On a political level however, I have had my differences with John McGuinness. I believe his attacks on public servants in last year's Sunday Independent interview were wrong and unfair, but as the 'pension levy' or public service tax as it should be called has proven, many in his own party agree, including the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach.
John believes in his right to speak out, but it is the ability to attack Government decisions which your party made and which you walked through the Dáil lobbies to vote for, which I and a huge number of the voters I am meeting on the doorstep find hardest to take.
When John announced on KCLR local radio on the morning of the latest budget that the Government 'had made a bags of the last budget', he failed to mention that he had voted for it and also robustly defended it in the local and national media.
John was defiant tonight on national television stating that he had 'not been elected to the Dáil to leave his brain outside the door'. With this we all agree, but we will continue to demand that he and every Fianna Fáil TD in Carlow/Kilkenny and in the country accept their responsibility for and are held accountable for things like axing the Christmas bonus for pensioners and social welfare recipients, increasing class sizes, hatcheting services in hospitals and health clinics, abandoning the Fair Deal for those in nursing homes etc. etc. etc. and of course standing over policies which have ended up with hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs.
If we didn't I'm sure John would be disappointed that we, like him, didn't use our brains and speak out to defend the weakest in our society who are being made pay for the sins of the free-market nonsense which his party has made such a boast of championing.