Sunday 18 February 2018

Ivan Yates

Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Fine Gael (left) with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin

Fine Gael's awkward truth: it's a rabbit in the headlights and will end up as electoral roadkill 

The problem with sleepwalking is that you don't realise you're doing it until you crash into something solid. Fine Gael is sleepwalking. What is the party's strategy for the next general election? It has none. When Fianna Fáil pulls the plug on propping up the current feckless, fragile administration, Fine Gael will have so luxuriated in the moment of continued government that it will blind itself...

Brendan Howlin seems more at ease in himself without the tattoo of austerity on his forehead Photo: Frank Mc Grath

The Yates Anthology: Why there's still life left in Labour Party 

Not unlike Fine Gael in 2002, or Fianna Fáil in 2011, the Labour Party's final demise was predicted after February's disastrous rout, losing 30 seats. Combined with the loss of 100 councillors in local elections in May 2014, its national network was decimated. Ministers remained in denial, blaming pundits of unfair bias. Having predicted they'd end up with seven TDs, I took no glee seeing polls of 4-6pc proving uncannily accurate.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny after he cast his vote. Photo: Gerry Mooney

The Yates Anthology: Fine Gael's silver bullet strategy 

It's been a really bad 2016 so far for Fine Gael. Its seats have vaporised and now there is no clear sense of direction in the new Dáil. It urgently needs to devise a strategy that allows it to participate in a sustainable government, while simultaneously patching up the battered ship to weather the next election. It faces the grim prospect of being in office but not in power, forming a lame-duck minority administration that'll be kicked about by most TDs on the opposition benches. The party also needs a new leader's face on election posters.

Gerry Adams

Politicians jumping ship on Irish Water 

The election is over and, surprise surprise, we face another fine mess. Evidence, as if it were needed, that democracy is over-rated - the problem is, they haven't invented anything better. Only 59 TDs elected to our shiny new Dáil support the retention of water charges of €160/€260 annually. This includes members of the Green Party, who want free water allowances and tax relief. Labour and Fine Gael were scalded on the issue of Irish Water on the doorsteps of the nation.

Ruairi Quinn 'triumphantly declared Ireland’s modernisation into 21st-century was entirely attributable to his party's leadership of politics and society'

HSE's culture of containment 

When should an apology not be accepted? Joan and John Mulcair only received "sincere apologies" from the HSE and the chief executive of Limerick University hospitals group more than six years after their baby Caoimhe died, living just 39 minutes on February 11, 2009. The City Court coroner's verdict of 'medical misadventure' compelled the State to offer it act of contrition. Tragically, the baby was starved of oxygen during the latter hours of labour; critical traces of her heartbeat weren't properly assessed.

'Beyond self-deprecating candour, his (Leo Varadkar) performance on hospital waiting lists amounted to another massaging of statistics by extending target categories from six months waiting times to 15 and 18 months'

A blank cheque won't get HSE out of intensive care 

The chickens are coming home to roost at the Department of Health. As reported in this paper earlier this week, the HSE requires €1.867bn to run the health service in 2016. This completely confirms how we've blown the economic crisis when it comes to reforming and modernising delivery of healthcare. We're back to square one. The slightest prospect of national budgetary flexibility is sufficient for a bloated HSE bureaucracy to revert to their singular clamour "give us more money". Because mandarins in Hawkins House don't know what they want, how to achieve it or where...

Ireland versus Wales (Aviva) sees our first XV back in action, as Joe Schmidt makes his final selection cull for a mouth-watering World Cup odyssey

The Yates Anthology: Turning water into a whine 

It's quietly anticipated that 40,000 people will attend today's fifth protest over Irish Water in Dublin. Aspects of Right2Water's campaign are probably disingenuous. The 1EU water directive means revenue charges must be obtained in every member state for public water supplies and sanitary services - whether done through a public utility or local council. Eventually, householders will have to pay. There's clearly a party political campaign element to this organised dissent, especially as trade unions widen agendas to target the Labour Party.

'The critical questions about relationships between Anglo Irish Bank contacts such as non-executive director Fintan Drury and Mr Cowen, remain unresolved'

The Yates anthology: Banking Inquiry is an omni-shambles 

The banking inquiry is fast becoming an omni-shambles. This week's depressing displays did nothing to lift expectations. In any court forum or tribunal at least there's an opening gambit of accusation by lead prosecution counsel, setting out the book of evidence and charges. But in an inquiry we get an uncontested opening statement by former public servants and politicians, allowing them to self-proclaim their own absolution. We then endure a lamentable litany seeking to escape personal culpability.

The narrow partisan party interests of Fine Gael and Labour may hold sway. Their primary election concern is halting the growth of Sinn Féin

Greece's crisis today could well be our crisis tomorrow 

Greece will default on its €324bn sovereign debt for a third time. What's at stake this week in Brussels is whether this is done by agreement or disagreement. Greece's first bailout - when only private investors got burned - left its debt/GDP ratio at 120pc. After five years of austerity displacing one-fifth of its economy, it hovers unsustainably at 180pc. You can't solve debt distress by piling on more indebtedness. Rolling over loans without write-offs only postpones the inevitable ultimate settlement, while putting Greece deeper in the mire.

'This catharsis could result in inter-generational leadership change for Kenny and/or Martin to assuage ancient internal hard-liners'

Historic coalition could be on the cards after next election 

In a former life, as a bookmaker, my job was to compile the original general election odds. For the forthcoming election and, in order to predict possible outcomes, my first instinct is to check the assessments of those whose money is on the line if they get it wrong. Who'll be next Taoiseach? How many seats for each party? Which parties will form the next administration? The most likely to be correct are the bookies, before political players (who are too biased and favour their own) and media hacks (who are too close to the Leinster House bubble).

Minister Leo Varadkar

There’s only room for short-termism in health politics 

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Benjamin Franklin's quote aptly describes current Irish health policy. There's an identity crisis in our national health services. At every level of clinical care, intrinsic confusion exists as to the ultimate model of delivering treatment. Contradictions also abound as to the fundamentals of health policy. Fine Gael and Labour's Programme for Government promised Universal Health Insurance (UHI) by 2019 to end 'two-tier' health care, whereby public patients received a lesser, slower service and private patients could queue-jump into fast-track...