Normally, it hardly matters who is running the country, no mater how incompetent. But right now it matters greatly because Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan have bet the future of the country for a generation of a bank rescue scheme and there is grave doubt that they know what they are doing.
Quite suddenly, the optimism of the Celtic Tiger era has given way to despair and the new government of Brian Cowen has been seen to mirror that despair. The performance of the leading trio — Brian Cowen, Mary Coghlan and Brian Lenihan — has been unsure and floundering. They have failed to communicate the underlying strengths of the economy and, in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty rejection, the secure place Ireland continues to enjoy within the EU.
The mental health organisation, Sli Eile, that was prevented from opening its first transition residence in an estate in Charleville, Co Cork, by locals supported by a government minister, has been invited to open a second residence in Ennis, Co Clare. Sli Eile opened its first house at an alternative address in Charleville.
We posed the following questions to Batt O'Keeffe, the new Minister for Education and Science:
What assistance and/or information did you give the protestors at Pike Farm, Charleville in their blockade of a residential home being opened for people recently discharged from mental hospitals;
On Wednesday 21 May, Brian Cowen was challenged in the Dáil to answer questions about palliative care services for older people and funding for mental health services. In the course of his reply to these questions, Brian Cowen was interrupted six times in his first response and then three times in his second response to the same questions, before he issued this threat: “For Deputy Reilly's attention, I can organise it so that every time his man [Enda Kenny] completes a sentence, I can have people roaring and shouting on this side if he wants.”
Ireland's newest national party, while too small to be a major player in the next elections, could add a new dimension to Irish political debate. The Priorities Party, launched on 21 April by defectors from opposite ends of Ireland's narrow political spectrum, is running on a ticket of political standards, accountability and transparency.
Brian Cowen has intelligence, humour and rhetorical prowess, as no previous Taoiseach possessed. But there is an edge to him, which may obscure a likeability
There will be no change, aside from a few faces. Even if Mary Harney goes, there will be no change. By Vincent Browne
Bertie Ahern indeed has done some service to his country and done some service to Fianna Fail. His departure now was not the least of that service.
By Vincent Browne
Following increasing pressure to explain revelations of sterling lodgements to his bank accounts uncovered by the Mahon Tribunal, Bertie Ahern announced that he will step down as Taoiseach on 6 May, 2008. Below is the full statement he gave at Government buildings on the morning of 2 April 2008.
Click on the Bertiegate tag at the end of the article for more on Bertie's Money.