So, the debate. A decent interaction, though I would criticise the decision to allow the participants only 45 seconds per answer. All kind of rushed in parts. The questions were fine, if a little limited. I wonder if we couldn’t add a debate, not neccesarily featuring Party leaders, where minor issues would be discussed. Anyway.
Much to my surprise, Gormley impressed me the most. Just more clear and honest sounding then the others. More polite too, speaking over the others the least. He stood over his parties records, agreed with Gilmore and Kenny on some issues, just didn’t have any kind of slip-up moment.
I’d put Kenny second. All of the commentators are being generally positive about his performance, leading some to wonder why he avoided Vincent Browne. He exhibited a bit of passion at times, outlined his policies clearly and was on hand to make mincemeat of Martin on the health question. But his bickering with Gilmore brought him down a few points and he talked over the others the most.
Gilmore did fine, nothing too bad, but nothing too good either. Carrying on from the average show he out up against Martin in the first debate, Labour must be getting a little concerned. He’s supposed to be lighting the political world on fire, man of the people, all of that. He’s not and Labour are losing out.
Martin will be disappointed. He started off well, confident, defending the record. But he took it too far. Placing himself as a shield in front of the HSE is a terrible political move, because regardless of how right he might be (and I am not at all convinced that he is), it makes him a punching bag for the other parties. That, and he might have took it a bit too far with Adams.
Adams was awful and anyone who thinks otherwise is either a member of Sinn Fein or delusional. No figures, fantasy policies, argumentative, desperate to please. The fact that the other four guys all took in turns to lambast him and tear his policy apart should speak volumes. Sinn Fein are just pariahs it would seem. No one wants to play with them. Martin’s fraud allegation might backfire a little, but it is not inaccurate. Adams is an outsider when it comes to politics south of the border. Sinn Fein might have done better to give their place to O’Caolain.
So, another debate done, but while I enjoyed it, I still doubt these things are having that much of an effect on public opinion.
Fine Gael have released their manifesto, somewhat late, and it has TWO FULL PAGES on Defence and the like. Wow. That’s the most of any party. Lets have a look, shall we?
Fine Gael recognises the substantial contribution made by the Defence Forces both domestically, in providing aid to the civil power and civil authority, and internationally, in UN mandated peace support for over fifty years.
Fine Gael’s Defence policy is built on key principles – maintaining the rule of law and the authority of the state from all challenges, ensuring Ireland’s active participation in peace support missions, and delivering an effective, highly trained Defence Forces capable of fulfilling all roles given to it by the Government.
Pleasantries, blah, blah, blah.
7.1 Overall Defence Policy
Security and Defence: Fine Gael wants Ireland to get involved in the construction of a new European security system at an early stage so that we can join and influence it on our terms. We want any EU common security and defence system to be guided by five key principles:
1. The commitment to adhere to the fundamental principles of the United Nations (UN);
2. The commitment to the pursuit of universal nuclear and biological disarmament, and a promise never to use either type of weapon;
3. The commitment to providing peacekeeping and peacemaking operations;
4. The commitment to respect the right of other EU States to enter other military alliances, or to be neutral, as they choose.
5. The right of Ireland to opt-in and opt-out of aspects of a mutual defence and security system on a caseby-case basis.
This is somewhat surprising to see, the idea of an EU Army tending to make people run for cover. Good to see FG addressing the issue, though they do everything they can to ensure Ireland doesn’t have to be a part of it.
Defence Industry: We will explore with the European Security and Innovation Forum (Esrif) the scope for increasing the Defence and Security Industry in Ireland to supply items such as hardware and information technology to police forces, civil aviation, maritime, emergency services and the Defence sector. We will impose strict controls as to what can be manufactured and the markets to which it can be sold.
Interesting. I’d like further details of these plans, but it’s not the worst use of the Defence Forces.
Prohibition of Use of Weaponry: We will enact a single Act listing the types of weaponry the Irish Defence Forces are prohibiting from using or facilitating the use of. These will include cluster munitions, depleted uranium weaponry, anti-personnel landmines, and nuclear weapons.
Not sure this is even necessary to say. Ireland isn’t exactly close to gaining nuclear capability.
Medical Services in the Defence Forces: We will implement as much as feasible of the Defence Forces Medical Services Review as resources allow.
“As much as is feasible…as resources allow”. Right.
Women in the Defence Forces: Our aim is that at least 10% of the Defence Forces will be women and we will put policies in place to encourage female recruitment.
Decentralisation: We will review the process of decentralisation of the Department of Defence and Military Headquarters.
Commemorations and Ceremonial: We support the participation of the Defence Forces in ceremonies commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising and in events leading up to the centenary of the Rising.
7.2 Permanent and Reserve Defence Forces
Barracks Closures: Closed barracks that are currently unsold will, where possible, be used for appropriate State or community uses, government offices and agencies.
It’s all good.
32 l Fine Gael Manifesto
Overseas Missions: We believe that the Triple Lock must be modified to allow Ireland participate in peacekeeping missions. The failure of the UN Security Council to pass a resolution should not prevent us from taking part in overseas missions. We believe that Irish troops should be capable of being deployed at short notice, if requested, to assist in emergency relief efforts at times of humanitarian crises.
Yes. Fine Gael are the only party saying this and it is exactly what we need to avoid foreign nations controlling our military.
Army Equitation School: We support the continued existence of the Army Equitation School and in government will use the Equitation School to showcase the Irish sport horse industry.
Meh. I have a dim view of anything that has no true military capability.
Michael Collins Medal: To commemorate the forthcoming centenary of the creation of the Irish Volunteers, we will strike a medal named after General Michael Collins and will discuss with military authorities the nature of the award and to whom it should be given.
Would Eoin McNeil not be more appropriate choice as someone more involved with the founding of the Irish Volunteers then Collins?
Reserve Defence Force: We recognise the importance of the Reserve Defence Forces within communities, including the Naval Reserve. In Government, we will review the process of integration between the Reserve and Permanent Defence Forces. We will amend the appropriate legislation to provide postal votes to RDF members who may for RDF-related reasons, missions or events be unable to cast their votes in their local polling stations.
7.3 Air Corps
Drug Interdiction: We will maximise the resources available to the Air Corps to target the illegal importation of drugs into Ireland.
Ministerial Air Transport Service (MATS): We will introduce a new code of practice for the use of the government jet ensuring cost effective and transparent travel. To stamp out any abuse, cheaper commercial alternatives must be taken when possible.
7.4 Naval Service
Flotilla: We support the replacement of two ships in the Naval Flotilla that have exceeded their maritime lifespan, subject to fiscal constraints and safety and operational needs.
EU Intelligence: We support Ireland’s continuing involvement with the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre-Narcotics, based in Lisbon which focuses on intelligence exchange amongst States to tackle drug shipments by sea and air.
Civil Defence: We strongly support the work of the civil defence and will ensure a close working relationship between civil defence and the military as required.
7.5 Red Cross
Red Cross: Fine Gael supports the initiation of a detailed legal review of the basis, structures and governance of the Red Cross in Ireland to improve its functioning in the light of changing circumstances.
This is all well and good, but I question the financial viability of any of it. I know I’ve criticised others for demonstrating a lack of planned investment in the Defence Forces but this looks like the other extreme.
Still, Fine Gael are the only party with a full, comprehensive Defence policy and they get big kudos from me for having it.
Before Fine Gael start crowing and Labour start the head slamming, just remember: that Fianna Fail number will simply not bear out on a local stage. On 8% they’d be getting single digit seats.
Does anyone, in their heart of hearts, think FF will have less than 10 seats in 10 days time? If that was the case, we wouldn’t even be paying them any attention.