Last week, leaping about as if they were auditioning for the lead in Riverdance, Leo and Eoghan, displaying their best posh boy grins, left the luxurious environs of Leinster House to launch their latest quango; sorry Land Development Agency!
Touted as being the Holy Grail to end our boom-and-bust cycle, the impeccably turned out Umbilical Brothers, who’ve been pretending to look after the country’s welfare for so long now –I’d half expected to see them wearing white coats and brandishing clipboards – pledged to unlock sites ‘such as hospital lands, barracks, or depots for development with private builders’. Positive move, or too little, too late?
Well, as I’m someone who makes it a rule never to believe a handsome man who looks like he could lick his own eyebrows, I’m sceptical. In addition, as I tend to analyse every syllable you say to me, as well as inspecting your body language and your use of terminology as you speak, (ask hubby, he’ll confirm I’m a human lie detector), let me explain why I’m in the too little, too late camp!
You see, this new Land Development Agency (LDA), which Leo, (nearly breaking into PowerPoint presentation mode), has likened to the founding of the ESB, was clearly designed to tease and tantalise us with the notion there’ll be ten thousand houses built by 2020. However, in actual fact folks, the State only has enough land freed up for three thousand units, and we can only hope the various agencies involved in holding the rest of the land will be willing to discuss releasing it so we can get on with building the further seven thousand pledged. Now, I do hope you’ll forgive my (now) familiar frostiness regarding this quango, but I fear this launch is just another case of more bulls**t packaged up as a say-lots-deliver-nothing-manifesto; and, if I’d been one of the journos at the photocall, I’d have asked for much more than a bare-bones, skeletal outline of a plan that appears to be boldly going nowhere!
And don’t get me started on the travesty that is our hospital waiting lists! I mean, how can a country with one of the best funded health services in Europe, (possibly the world, with twenty five per cent of the gross government spend going into this facility), have 718,000 patients desperate to either enter a hospital for treatment or see a consultant? Now again, I hate to seem like I’m always complaining, but in a country with less than five million citizens, from my perspective this is absolutely scandalous; yet we constantly swallow the government’s gaggle of contradictory spin! Then again, I suppose we’ve heard so much persuasive, pre-election propaganda lately, our brains are flip-flopping like dying fish desperate for survival.
Oh, by the way, don’t think we’ll be rewarded for our devotion in the next Budget! Nay, I’d say the fabulous people of Roscommon have more chance of getting a direct hit from an asteroid than they’ll have of seeing more cash in their pockets! Personally folks, given I can detect the pong of Eau-de-Extortion from here, I’m gonna sign up to join Poor, Sad, Middle-Aged Anonymous because what we once thought was real leadership from Leo has turned out to be possibly nothing more than a mirage.
Who’s in charge of our law enforcement? Men in balaclavasor An Garda Síochána?
Regular readers will know I have enormous respect for members of An Garda Síochána and believe they’re doing a fantastic job; and, hand on heart, I personally have never met a member of the force who was disrespectful or who acted in an unprofessional manner. However, the use of hooded Gardaí during what was essentially a peaceful protest in Dublin, where ‘a network of 18 grassroots activist groups’ were taking ‘direct action against Ireland’s housing crisis,’ was an absolute disgrace. And, even though our new Garda Commissioner Drew Harris addressed the issue, admitting the use of hoods by members of the public order unit “was not correct,” I have to ask, why then, as the boss, didn’t he put more thought into the whole operation before an order was issued?
I mean, I imagine these officers didn’t just take it upon themselves to pop on a hood; some higher ranking member must have instructed them to do so. Now while I’m sure Mr. Harris will make for an excellent Commissioner, he needs to be reminded that while he does have an impressive CV, his 35 years of experience should have given him some small clue that what was happening in our capital city last week was merely a peaceful protest and should have been dealt with accordingly.
Instead, it appears, a sanction commensurate with a covert intelligence operation the like of which one would expect to see used to deal with dissident terrorists sprang into action, and that’s just plain overkill!
Let me stress, I’m not one to engage in public protests, (never have been), but I do believe Irish citizens have a constitutional right to hold a peaceful rally, (emphasis being on peaceful), should they so choose, however, the rule of the law must be upheld at all times and High Court orders must be obeyed and, unfortunately, in last week’s incident, it appears the compliance of a High Court order was being blatantly ignored, meaning Garda action was deemed necessary. I understand, and I fully respect that. However, was it necessary to order our force to back-up a group of balaclava-wearing individuals who looked more like ‘heavies’ than private security personnel? The optics weren’t good Commissioner, so perhaps you’d like to outline for us, the citizens of this country, which agency is across law enforcement…is it An Garda Síochána or is it private security firms, who rock up in what reports say was a ‘UK-registered van which did not have a number plate on the front and had no tax or insurance’. Just so we know. Cheers.