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Will cinders get to the ball?  

by D.R.O’Connor Lysaght  

27 March 2015
Once upon a time, there was a young woman called Lucinda, or ‘Cinders’ for short. She was intelligent, able., attractive and radical, but not so radical as would embarrass her parents and their neighbours. These qualities had helped her get a seat on her city’s municipal council, then on her country’s parliament and finally as a minister of state to the said country’s Government, and she was still nearer thirty than forty. There seemed to be a bright future awaiting on her horizon.

Yet Cinders was not happy. Her contemporzaries had better and more prestigious jobs, while she was cosigned to the job of messenger person to the Wholy Rotten Empire of which her country was part. Worse still, any achievements (and there were a number) made by her in her job were claimed by her boss, the Prince Sickeningly Charming

Then, one day, as she was particularly discontented, she was visited by the Wholy Rotten Empire’s most powerful figure, not the emperor, since it had dispensed with that post, but by the fairy Angela, known to all as The Godmother. With one of her pinched smiles she bad Cinders be happy for she had been watching her with a view to setting her an important and prestigious task. For some time, she had been increasingly dissatisfied with Prince Sickeningly Charming, noticing how he was known to all increasingly as plain ‘Sickening’. The Godmother needed a new messenger who would tell people in Cinders’ country what The Godmother wanted them to know and be believed. If this did not happen, there was a real possibility that bad fairies would defy her directives, prevent the overall design of restricting economic policies to the bosses and their agents, bring the Empire crashing down and put The Godmother herself out of her job. 

‘But how am I to help?’ asked Cinders. ‘I tried to get Sickening replaced once and failed. Now he’s more powerful than he was then, and most of those who were with me have jobs under him; better jobs than I have, by the way.’

‘ You failed because you were seen as the ambitious brats that you were. Oh, you had policies, and he had none, but because he had none, he was able to take yours. Now he is in power, and having to take political positions, you are better able to distinguish yourself and take a stand in opposition to him.’

‘ But won’t I lose your job?’

‘I thought that the whole thing about your job is that you didn’t much like it anyway. You’ll lose it all right, but if you choose the right issue, you can appear as standing for a principle. Remember Des O’Malley? Come to think of it,’ said The Godmother proudly, ‘look at me. I stood against Communism, Red Army and all, or at least I sat down and didn’t collaborate with it, and now I’m the most powerful woman in Europe.’

‘But there’s not much point in taking a stand against Communism since the Soviet Union imploded. Anyway, I can’t think of anything Sickening is likely to do that could be called anything like Communism or even socialism.’

‘You can take a stand on something else. How about Christian values? Isn’t there some plan to ease restrictions on abortion?’

So Cinders took a stand against abortion and found herself out of a job and out of a party, However, everybody admired her stand and she was able to gather around her a large fan club, including a joker who liked to advise people on how to shop. Eventually, she decided it was time to turn her club into a proper party to attend the five year Ball that would be held a year later and in which she would out dazzle Prince Sickening or force him to give her a serious position at least. She announced this with the joker and two pumpkinheads that agreed to pull her carriage.

(At this point, the fairy story awaits its ending)

But will Cinders be the belle of the ball, or will she remain as a wallflower? More specifically, should she be the belle and could she be?

The answer to the first question is quite simply: no, she should not. Her Renua Ireland is no more than the Progressive Democrats writ short (and macaronic). It shortchanges in more ways than one. The founder deputies of the PDs were far from the the political talents they were portrayed by the sympathetic liberal media; indeed it is doubtful whether their sum abilities equalled those of Haughey. Nonetheless, O’Malley, Molloy and Wyse did have experience in government. Of the rebooties, only Creighton can claim a short period. Her loyal Oireachtas supporters do not only have no such claims to govern, but it does not seem as if anyone in their right mind thought they had until now.

Still that did not prevent a certain E.Kenny becoming Taoiseach. Why the rebooties should be opposed is to be seen in their policies - or lack of them, since they have yet to appear. At this point, the writer likes to quote Irish Times fictional crooked politician, Charles O’Carroll Kelly: ‘Of course we have principles; when we see what people want nearer the election, we’ll tell them what they are.’ However,  this would be unfair. The party is preparing policies, notably (observe the order) on ‘reducing some business taxes, reform (?) of the public sector, political reform, housing and childcare....Policies on the major issues of the wider economy, health and education would not be published until later this year....they would be the most detailed and comprehensive since Declan Costello’s Just Society for Fine Gael over 40 years ago.’ (Actually, it was over fifty years ago, but who’s counting?) What is presented for now is a promise of ‘open government ‘ which is certainly more detailed than such government a la Bruton or Kenny, including publication of cabinet minutes within twenty-four hours and of the Attorney General’s advice on cases. Oh, yes, and a time limit on ministerial appointments. Beyond this is the pledge ‘that Renua is a party in which left and right can coexist. It means being compassionate and citizen-centred at home while highly competitive and capitalist abroad.’ Stalinism, anyone?

No, just boring old technocracy. Apart from Cinders, Eddie and the pumpkinheads, the identified figures of the party include ‘Noel Toolan, who has worked with Iona Technologies and Tourism Ireland,...Liam McCabe, who had been David Norris’ campaign manager before the presidential election of 2011 (and is also a leading figure in Irish mountain  rescue and a member of the reserve defence force)...Ross McCarthy, formerly of price Waterhouse Coopers,who has experience of change management’ [and is an ex-member of Fine Gael], two lawyers, Lisa Chambers and James Geoghegan, Samantha Long, again  formerly of Fine Gael, ‘Jason Long, a data analyst’ who liked ‘that the majority [of members] were non-political, .. David Gunning, the former chief Executive of Cillte...Diane Tangney, a strategic planner who has worked with Ogilvey and Cawley Nea.’ and two token do-gooders ‘Jonathan Irwin, founder and chief executive of the Jack and Jill Foundation... and childcare expert Shane Dunphy.’ (Quotations from the Irish Times, Harry McGee, 14/03/15) All in all, it is not surprising that Terence Flanagan found himself unable  to state his party’s policy on  PAYE; do he and his colleagues have any knowledge of it ? Nor is it surprising that in a poll published after its launch, the percentage support for minor parties languished at 3%.

Yet it could be a player. There is a large group of voters that are disillusioned with the traditional parties but are frightened of anything  too radical. Sinn Fein is targeting these with some success. Re Nua is far more reassuring.. It appeals to the non-political, including non-political workers with its message that real beneficial change can be effected on the cheap. Of course, this has been done before; it is the motive force of the twenty-six county two party system. Yet there is still a layer of mugs and a smaller, more intelligent layer that is ready to manipulate them. Ignorance and deference are vital components of George Bush’ new world order and Renua must be regarded as the latest attempt to harness them. In the opinion poll, the  margin of error could give ‘Other Parties’ 8% of the vote and possibly 12 Dail seats, only two less than the PDs on their first outing.  Don’t be afraid yet, but be very sceptical. 

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