Analysis

Thursday 31 July 2014

Jobless get fair crack of the whip, but Lucinda faces cat o' nine tails

Lise Hand

Published 09/07/2013|04:00

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IRONIC, really. The Taoiseach, surrounded by a troika of non-turbulent ministers, was in Waterford yesterday to announce a new job-creation scheme in the same week that he may be handing out a P45 to one of his own workers.

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He and Eamon Gilmore, Joan Burton and Richard Bruton were in the (very) sunny south-east to launch Jobs Plus, for the long-term unemployed, but the focus of attention was on the future prospects of one of his junior ministers who looks hell-bent on voting against the Government's abortion bill tomorrow.

Neither Eamon nor Enda would be drawn on the latest mutinous mutterings of 'Loose Lips' Lucinda Creighton who took to Twitter on Sunday to scold the health minister's assertion that grasping the thorny nettle of abortion had indeed been part of Fine Gael's election manifesto. The tart tweet from the European affairs minister instructed James Reilly not to "make things up . . . don't mislead people".

Oh dear, it's all getting a bit hot under the Blueshirt collar these days as the heat is turned up on the Taoiseach. There have been so many men overboard recently that his parliamentary party is starting to resemble HMS Bounty.

However, Cap'n Kenny seems content to let his rebellious junior officer walk the plank unaided, if she chooses to do so tomorrow, and he kept his cutlass sheathed. He merely said he "wouldn't deal with any individual in public", hinting that the cat o' nine tails would be deployed behind closed doors if she opts to jump ship.

Likewise, Eamon Gilmore steered clear of this scrap, probably relieved that for once it isn't any of the Labour crew who have hoisted the Jolly Roger.

"I think we should wait until the vote is called before anybody makes any prediction about who will and who won't vote in favour," he dodged.

The Taoiseach could accede to Lucinda's request that the suicide clause be removed from the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. But he is more likely to conjure up 400,000 jobs for everyone on the Live Register audience than make such a substantial change to the legislation.

That would be a constitutional matter, he explained quite firmly. He and the Government were unable to "unpick" the Supreme Court decision on the X Case, and he was adamant that to do so would be "unconstitutional".

And so it looks ominously like there may be a job vacancy in Team Enda after the division bell tomorrow.

Jobs Plus, where the State will incentivise employers to hire the long-term jobless, will be of little use to Lucinda.

She'll still have a job as an Independent TD in south Dublin. However, this ambitious politician is more queen bee than worker bee, and probably has a five-point plan of her own.

Then the Taoiseach may find his work cut out for him.

Irish Independent

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