Friday, 20th July 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

"Terms and Conditions Apply!"

So Frances Fitzgerald finally fell on her own sword - not before putting up a huge, behind-closed-doors fight, with her Fine Gael colleagues. There was even talk about her "having something on Leo?" Nonetheless, he remained so steadfastly on the side of

"She has done nothing wrong and let’s wait for the tribunal, before judging her!"

The trouble was, that Leo’s pantomime Dames were also told, in no uncertain terms, to get behind their Tánaiste. "They’re behind you!"

The spin was "innocent until proved guilty." Then more and more, leaked emails started to appear. Evidence against the Minister was mounting, indications being that Frances knew more about the shenanigans surrounding Maurice McCabe, than she was willing to tell the Dáil. Had she convinced Leo, she was no Panto Baddie, no Wicked Witch?

Pressure mounted on ALL concerned, nobody wanted a pre-Christmas election. The hustings were awash with threats of rebellion. There was no festive cheer. The door knocking over the 12 Days of Christmas, was without doubt, going to be a complete and utter disaster. It would be an election date of infamy.

Joy of joys. Two Tuesdays ago Frances did the honourable thing and tendered her resignation, at the very, very, very last minute. Talk about leaving it late. She took the Government and the country right to the wire.

There must have been terms and conditions attached?

Sure enough, only a few hours later, the now ex-Minister and ex-Tánaiste received the full backing of her party. She stood for and was nominated, as the FG candidate for the next general election in her Dublin Mid West constituency. I have no doubt that a future ministerial role has been pencilled in, if FG are returned to govern.

Scroll forward a few days and on Thursday 30th November, Scotland’s St. Andrew’s Day, Minister Simon Coveney, can’t believe his luck. Accepting the position of Tánaiste with alacrity. Have absolutely no doubt, he has attached his very own "Ts and Cs" to keep FG and FF happy. Will we see a third budget, as promised in the Confidence and Supply Agreement? "Oh yes we will!" Well, only time will tell.

Then out of the blue, the terms of reference are announced, by Minister Simon Harris, for the National Review of Specialist Cardiac Services. We’d rub our magic lamp and Waterford’s Lotto numbers would come up. We’d scoop the Euro Millions jackpot. Professor Nolan would lead the review that would once and for all, deliver the South East’s cardiac services.

Alas, yet another false dawn, I am afraid.

The terms of reference, are once again, comical, laughable, and even "Wishy-Washy". They are quite evidently worthy lines for a pantomime Dame. "Oh NO they’re NOT!" the Government shout. "Oh YES they are!" we shout back.

An unbelievably long, drawn-out timescale of 12 to 18 months. Hello... we might all be dead, by the time the report comes back to Minister Harris! At least the can has been well and truly kicked down the road, for the next Government to fight Waterford.

Then, we see the now obligatory photo shoot, appearing all over social media. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am sure that some, maybe even all, are trying very hard to deliver our very basic health service rights. But when you see only three TDs pictured with the Minister, is it any wonder that this South East "Crisis", is seen by those in the Dáil as wholly Waterford’s conundrum?

Could I produce a few more TDs from behind the Minister? "Abracadabra", I shouted, but without my magic lamp to rub, no more appeared.

There are 158 TDs in the Dáil, yet only 3 turned up for the launch picture. That represents less than 2% of the total number seated in Dublin. If all 19 regional representatives had shown up, that would have increased the proportion to 12%!!!!

Or to put it another way. I win €1,000,000 on the Lotto and offer a lucky reader the chance to get 2% or 12% of these winnings. €20,000 or €120,000 – what would you choose????

Percentages matter in Irish politics. It’s very simple. The bigger representation you have, the greater the slice of the pie - Ts and Cs always apply.


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