Sunday 22 April 2018

Feeney in scathing attack on 'corrupt' politicians

Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A newly elected Fianna Fail public representative has launched a scathing attack on senior politicians - some of whom she accused of being "inept" and "corrupt".

Prominent councillor Kate Feeney also claimed that the Dail had not produced a positive role model in the last 20 years.

Without singling out a former TD or minister, Ms Feeney said young people today could draw inspiration from athletes and actors, but not Irish politicians.

"Isn't it a sad reflection on our political system that I was able to name examples of positive Irish success stories from the last 20 years in the arts, business and sport but that I don't feel I could name you a positive role model from Dáil Éireann in that period," Ms Feeney said.

"Indeed, if I was to name-check many of the people who have held senior positions in politics over the last 20 years it would be more likely to provoke embarrassment than inspiration."

The Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown representative said that the country's political system is set up in a manner that discourages "good people within it from standing up or speaking out".

She highlighted the treatment of former European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton, who was stripped of the Fine Gael whip after voting against the contentious abortion legislation.

"Whether or not you agree with Lucinda Creighton's view on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, I don't think anyone outside of government would argue that she should have lost her job because she had a conscientious objection to it.

"Is anyone in Ireland better off now that somebody with the obvious capabilities and dedication of Lucinda Creighton is on the backbenches rather than in ministerial office?" she said.

Ms Feeney rose to prominence during the local election campaign after it emerged that former minister Mary Hanafin would contest as her running mate.

Ms Hanafin's return to politics sparked uproar in Fianna Fail after she refused to withdraw her nomination papers despite a request from party headquarters.

Speaking at the Parnell Summer School in Avondale, Co Wicklow, Ms Feeney also criticised local election candidates who pledged to waive their council expenses prior to election day. Ms Hanafin has subsequently stated that she will not draw expenses.

The President of Ogra Fianna Fail warned against the formation of a "race to the bottom" whereby candidates make promises to win votes.

"If, through a race to the bottom on politicians' pay and expenses, we end up limiting participation in political life to those of privileged means, we will be trading a short term saving for a long term impoverishment of our politics," she said.

"We need to encourage more people who have different sorts of life experiences, including those who have come from less privileged backgrounds, to enter into politics rather than closing off those avenues," she added.

Ms Feeney told the audience that her generation now has a unique opportunity to contribute to society.

"That opportunity is that we can be confident in Ireland and in our Irishness without that confidence being defined by a dysfunctional relationship with our nearest neighbour."

Irish Independent

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