Answering Fintan O’Toole’s Diagnosis and Prescription for the Republic

Because this man has ready access to the newspapers, TV and radio and he has a high intellectual capacity, his words need to be heeded. But first, he needs analysis and dissection.

Firstly, he writes about restoring popular sovereignty and says this has no meaning in Ireland right now.

He then mentions a “meaningful election” which he defines as an election which takes place after a whole series of events have taken place. These include in the first instance a suspension of the constitution and rule by a Technical Administration. This is also in breach of European Law. This non-elected group will preside over negotiations with the IMF/EU on Ireland’s financial fate putting Ireland first. Cowen will tell you that he did that. I disagree but Cowen was elected, I was not. Neither was Fintan O’Toole.

He wants the political parties to put up two plans each. Why? “To restore popular sovereignty.”!!

“Third, before an election, a civic movement has to create a critical mass around the idea of radical political reform.”

He wants anyone (the unions) to put forward an alternative plan. He says that “without it, an election will be an empty ritual”. What an insult to all the work done by the political parties at the moment!
He intends to set up a website so if people agree with him, “they will be able to put their names to the demands, which include a €100,000 salary cap for public officials, a change in the electoral system, a shrinking and overhaul of the Dáil, and measures to kill the toxic three Cs: clientelism, cronyism and corruption. What matters most is that we cease to be an invisible people. That our government is irrelevant is their fault.” Salaries are to an extent determined by the market. I will return to that in a less simplistic way. Excellence usually deserves recognition and reward. Does his €100 k include union leaders?
It shows Mr O’Toole’s intolerance at the outcome of elections where the people put their choices into the Dail. He dismisses the democratic choices of the people. As someone who stands for election and is usually defeated, I have done the practical. People like, want and demand clientelism. They want someone to intervene in their interaction with officialdom whether it is the Justice Department, HSE, Local Authority for urgent housing change or simply problems with a local school. Often, the “clients” are perfectly correct. Joe Duffy’s “Liveline” frequently underlines that. Does Fintan O’Toole dismiss this? Cronyism is a human foible that is hard to avoid but freedom of information is an effective counter balance.

Corruption must be rooted out but corruption and the loss of a seat are not synonymous.

I agree with Fintan, the people are sovereign. I will await my fate in Dublin Northwest. I will accept the will of the people. I know that I will put the interests of Ireland first. In this case, that will mean a hardnosed re-negotiation of the IMF/ECB deal with everything on the agenda. The EU must be told that they have more to do to preserve the EU as it currently is.

Summary: Fintan O’Toole is an elitist who denies the right of the people to be wrong by his judgement. Elections are inconvenient when the people make the wrong decision in his view. Has Labour now joined Fianna Fail and Fine Gael in the ranks of the unacceptable? He is talking about a coup by intellectuals.