12 blueshirt successes in 12 months
The Government has managed to make it to one whole year in office and all anyone can talk about is what the blueshirt-independent coalition supported by Fianna Fáil has failed at. But what about its successes?
1. Delaying the repeal of the 8th Amendment
Last month the Citizens’ Assembly recommended to Government that abortion should be legally accessible in Ireland without restriction as to the reason. It was a welcome decision but not much help to the 9 women who have had to leave the country each day to get basic healthcare since the delaying tactic was announced in the Programme for a Partnership Government in May 2016.
2. Maintaining Church control of education
Hopes for ending segregation, allowing decent sex education, and kicking the Catholic Church out of our public schools were dashed in June when Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, announced his preference for the Community National School (CNS) model as the patronage model for new primary schools. The CNS model is the “compromise” accepted by the Catholic Church, with the “Goodness Me, Goodness You” ethics course drawn up by the Church and children segregated within the school based on religious background.
3. Supporting warmongering
Hot on the heels of the EU Leaders’ summit in June which endorsed closer ties between the EU and NATO, Minister for Defence, Paul Kehoe, travelled to Poland in July to attend the NATO summit, supporting the Cold War relic’s continuation and intensification of the arms race.
4. Defending the rights of corporations to pay no tax
In August the European Commission announced that it would be handing Apple a €13bn bill for unpaid Irish taxes. The response? The Irish Government will fight it tooth and nail. Who said class politics was dead?
5. Handing over public land to private developers
Last summer Dublin City Council passed a motion for the public land at O’Devaney Gardens to be developed for 100% public housing. No sooner had the motion been passed than the council started making efforts for it to be overturned. In September, Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, met with a select group of councillors (excluding the Workers’ Party, which had originated the motion for 100% public housing) and the councillors voted later that month to overturn a motion they themselves had voted for and to privatise the land.
6. Enshrining austerity for generations to come
It wasn’t much of a surprise that Budget 2017 chose tax cuts for the wealthy over public services for the rest of us but one point that will ensure continuing austerity was the decision to aim for a debt to GDP ratio of 45% over the next decade, which is predicated on the complete falsehood that the economic crisis was caused by overborrowing. The previous target of 60% was already far below the EU average of 91%.
7. Locking out teachers
In November hundreds of schools were closed by Government after ASTI members withdrew from supervision and substitution duties, which were unpaid following members’ decision to reject the Landsdowne Road Agreement.
8. Protecting landlords
Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, at it again. In December he announced the new rental strategy and, while the long-promised deposit protection scheme was missing, landlords in areas worst affected by rent increases over the last number of years now have a guaranteed increase in rents of 4% each year.
9. Managing to successfully ignore rural Ireland
Realising Our Rural Potential: Action Plan for Rural Development was announced to much fanfare in January. The action plan flaunted itself as bringing new, shiny, innovative solutions to rural Ireland when in reality the majority of the action points were pre-existing.
10. Covering up the neglect of working class areas
It’s not only rural Ireland that’s got a new plan for a makeover. In February, a report for the Taoiseach’s taskforce on Dublin’s north inner city proposed rebranding the area instead of confronting structural issues like housing.
11. Papering over racism
The Taoiseach received global recognition for “lecturing” US president Trump on the value of immigration at the annual St Patrick’s Day visit. Really, he should have been commended for managing to keep a straight face throughout his speech while overseeing Direct Provision centres at home.
12. Handing over public land to private developers (again)
Not to be outdone by Simon Harris privatising public health (with the help of the nuns) and obviously buoyed up by his own success in the O’Devaney Gardens giveaway, Simon Coveney announced in April that 800 sites owned by local authorities and public bodies are to be offered up to the private market. What a success.