Coalition Loyalists Are Rewarded While Protesters Are Imprisoned

Marchers take to the streets of Dublin following the imprisonment of activists campaigning against the imposition of water taxes in Ireland and the increasing politicization of An Garda Síochána and the courts
Marchers take to the streets of Dublin following the imprisonment of activists campaigning against the imposition of water taxes in Ireland and the increasing politicization of An Garda Síochána and the courts (Íomhá: RTÉ)

In the first half of 2011 Enda Kenny’s self-proclaimed “democratic revolution” brought his centre-right Fine Gael party to power in Ireland, supported by the nominally centre-left Labour Party. Despite claims that the new administration would break the decades old practice of cronyism, nepotism and party-largesse that characterized Irish political parties in government since the 1960s the “Fine Oibre” coalition soon reverted to type. By the end of the year a smorgasbord of jobs generously funded by the tax-payer were being strewn like confetti to party-loyalists, benefactors, lobbyists and hangers-on. In particular the highly-desired position of a ministerial “special advisor” became the favoured (and legally less contentious) way of paying off old debts to steadfast supporters. Some twenty-seven senior advisors were appointed to a variety of roles in 2011, all of whom had close ties to the respective parties, factions or influential individuals within them. Starting on a minimum of €80,000 per annum several were earning up to €168,000 pa by the end of the year, a pay level almost equal to that of a democratically elected cabinet minister.

So, as the next general election looms on the horizon and the polls predict doom and gloom for the government parties, it is perhaps no surprise that senior coalition figures are scrambling to ensure that their supporters are gifted princely sums of cash before their enforced retirements. The Labour Party in particular, under the command of that most self-entitled and self-regarding of leaders, Táinaiste Joan Burton, has pulled out all the stops to dig into the public coffers, its nerves frayed by the (over-stated?) predictions of looming annihilation at the ballot box. From the Irish Independent:

“Several Cabinet ministers last year intervened to bump up the pay of their special advisers, above the level originally proposed by Brendan Howlin’s spending department.

The majority of ministers who presented the “exceptional” cases on behalf of their advisers were Labour Party TDs.

In September, Environment Minister Alan Kelly sought to appoint Liam Cahill to an advisory role with a salary of €88,936. Mr Kelly claimed Mr Cahill has “wide-ranging experience” in public administration, as well as a “broad knowledge of public and media relations”.

Separately, Finance Minister Michael Noonan’s officials sought that his adviser Paul Bolger be paid €3,000 more than the level set down by the spending department.

It’s also emerged that Communications Minister Alex White wrote to Mr Howlin’s officials seeking to place his special adviser Bernard Harbor on a scale higher than the standard scale for principal officers.

His adviser Madeline Mulrennan was also offered the highest principal officer salary of €91,624, an October 15 document states.

Documents also show that Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney secured a €25,000 salary increase last July for his adviser Caitriona Fitzpatrick.

It was previously revealed that Tánaiste Joan Burton sought to have her former PA Karen O’Connell put on a salary of €79,401 but sanction was given for €75,647.

Ms Burton’s chief of staff Ed Brophy also saw his salary increased from €119,572 to €144,550 – and she secured a salary of €114,424 for her economic adviser Terry Quinn.”

However while the current members of the Neo-Ascendancy feather their nests in preparation for a possible long winter of Opposition politics, elsewhere in the country Seán and Síle Citizen is offered a different form of free bed and lodging by the state. From TheJournal.ie:

“ANTI-AUSTERITY ALLIANCE TD Paul Murphy has described yesterday’s jailing of four anti-water charge protesters as an attack “on the right of communities to protest against the imposition of austerity measures”.

The politician – who himself was arrested and questioned for his role in last November’s Jobstown protest – said the court had jailed the four at the behest of Irish Water contractors GMC Sierrra “so that they can continue to try to impose water meters on communities which have risen up in peaceful protest against their installation”.

“Once again, the courts have been used to attack the right of people to engage in peaceful protest.”

In the same statement, AAA councillor Michael O’Brien accused the Gardaí of acting “as bully boys on behalf of the government and GMC Sierra through physical attacks and harassment of those who have engaged in the protests”.

Five Dublin protesters – one of whom was not in court yesterday, as he was abroad – were found in contempt of a court order and sentenced to at least 28 days in prison.”

While some are gripped by despair when they see the actions of a state undermining its own legitimacy while enthralled to external forces whose interests run contrary to that of the inhabitants of the state itself, others see an opportunity to challenge those very forces. From Her.ie:

“Traffic ground to a standstill in Dublin city centre this evening as hundreds took to the streets in solidarity with four members of the anti-water charges campaign that were jailed earlier today.

The ruling has been met with anger this evening, with up to 300 people taking part in a city centre demonstration from O’Connell Street to Mountjoy Prison.

Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy has also slammed the move…

“The attacks from the State on the campaign against water charges needs to be met with a significant response by the campaign and communities, the protest which has been organised against political policing following the Jobstown arrests on Saturday can be a response in opposition to these attacks.””

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7 comments

  1. Why not abolish King George V’s Royal Dail that he forced upon Ireland in 1922 and reestablish the true Dail that was established on January 15, 1919? How long does it take to learn that “Ireland’s” gov’t operates for London and international banksters? It made banksters whole for their $billions in foolish investments, and foisted their losses onto Irish taxpayers; it continues to cover for the bombers of Dublin/Monaghan, etc., Its Consuls General here in the States OPPOSED freedom for the B-6 and Guildford 4, unsuccessfully OPPOSED the MacBride Principles in legislatures across the U.S., OPPOSED freedom for Joe Doherty, and continue to OPPOSE the fact that it required more than half of Britain’s then-empire army to remove, at gunpoint, Ireland’s food crops during 1845-50.

    It’s time for Ireland to reclaim its sovereignty.

    1. And of course the Government of Ireland Act decreed that no laws made by the new Irish state would apply to the Freemasons. Funny how very little interest the Irish media take in the Freemasons – a secret society with a very substantial and powerful membership on both sides of the border. On the rare occasions when they even mention them, the whole tone is strangely reticent. For instance, when Bertie Ahern was Taoiseach he visited the Freemasons HQ across the street from the Dail, and the Sunday Independent reported that he was welcomed by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Irish Freemasonry – but mysteriously failed to give the name of this personage. I was always told the first rule of news reporting was “Who” – as in “Who, What, When, Where, How”, but apparently that rule doesn’t apply when the Sunday Independent is reporting on its chums “on the Square”.

  2. Oops! I omitted mention of the “Irish” gov’t’s complicity with America’s criminal Neo-Cons’s in granting special rights at Shannon Airport to “rendition” (torture) flights. To confirm its treason it then prosecuted the few who responded to such international crime by taking a hatchet to the nose-cone of one of the rendition planes.

  3. Don’t see a problem here.
    Break a court order – go to jail.

    It’s extremely stupid to attack people who install water meters. They’re just doing their jobs.

    Maybe you don’t know that, but water charges were in the FG’s manifesto all along.
    And yet – people still voted them in.

    1. Even if one takes at face value the results of the 2011 election at face value (and there are plenty of reasons to be sceptical about the integrity of Irish elections – and western elections generally), it would be farcical to say that “people still voted them in”. SOME people voted them in, but not “the people”. They didn’t get anything remotely close to an overall majority in either votes or seats. And by the way this “they’re just doing their jobs bit” (think I’ve heard that phrase somewhere before by the way…) is interesting logic coming from someone who talks a lot about the evils of communism and the Soviet Union. Were the KGB who locked dissidents up just doing their job? And before you say the Communists weren’t elected – they were actually – even after the fall of the Berlin Wall several former East Bloc countries voted communists back into power.

      1. Comparing an utility company to a secret police agency of a totalitarian regime is just ridiculous.
        There’s nothing legally or morally wrong with installation of water meters.

        And like or not – FG got ~45% of the seats – that’s not just “some people”.
        Anyway – if you have a proof that Irish elections are rigged then you should be protesting about that instead, because that is way more serious matter than water charges.

        And the commies in Latvia were NOT elected – the Russians illegally occupied Latvia and imposed their rule upon us.

        1. “Comparing an utility company to a secret police agency or to a totalitarian regime is ridiculous.”

          What’s ridiculous is the ill-informed fantasy that utility companies or any other private corporation can’t be just as totalitarian as any state agency. Often indeed private corporations and secret police agencies work hand in hand – whether it be in modern China or in the West – through the Anglo-American mass surveillance programme.

          Fine Gael officially got 36.1 per cent of the popular vote – a little over a third – in the last general election. Even if they had received 45 per cent of the vote, that would have been only what the Yes side officially won in the Scottish independence referendum. Funnily enough I didn’t hear anyone suggest that 45 per cent of the vote gave the SNP government in Scotland a mandate to introduce independence legislation Indeed I heard several corporate media commentators describe the No victory as “overwhelming”. So yes, only “some people” voted for Fine Gael.

          Communist parties won large majorities in several former East Bloc countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Apart from anything else this fact illustrates what a huge advantage those who control the levers of the state and media have in elections. The idea that governments have the right to do what they like simply because they have majority support is in any case deeply sinister – and would justify the actions of Hitler’s National Socialists – amongst other regimes.

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