This is a bad week for Ireland. If bankruptcy wasn't harsh enough, the Irish political freeloaders have simply chosen to bury their snouts deeper in the public trough.
The highlight (lowlight?) of the week was the Green Party Conference in Waterford. The Green Party are actually in Government in Ireland, for those unaware, although they are severely constrained, like a BEE business partner who has to be tolerated, by the ruling Fianna Fail behemoth.
Their success is due to their middle-class nice-ness, but their ideology is leaning lefter by the day, as some of the noises emerging from the Conference demonstrated.
From the Indo:
Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan has strongly defended the Government's policy on rescuing Anglo-Irish Bank.
The minister told the Green Party convention in Waterford the banking system must be cleaned up at the lowest cost with the greatest possible protection for the people.
He said allowing Anglo to go under would not be the best solution.
"The Fine Gael position that effectively calls for a default on our debts would carry real risks. I can understand why people ask the simple question: why not just let Anglo go or let the bond-holders take all the pain?" he said.
"The reality is that those subordinated bond-holders who did take a risk by putting money into the bank have and will lose out."
He warned the discount on loans purchased by the National Asset Management Agency is likely to be higher than originally estimated.
"It is also likely we will have to take a further state shareholding in some of our banks, but that again is something that throughout this process the Green Party has been preparing for," he said.
He added: "We are only at the start of changing all that needs to be changed. We need to change our tax system to discourage such property speculation in the future.
"We need to change our banking and business culture to replace short-term speculative thinking with a sustainable development ethos.
"And most importantly we need to change our planning and political system so that the brown envelope and cute rezonings are made forever a thing of the past."
Attacking Fine Gael, who will likely win the next election at the head of a "rainbow" coalition, seems an unwise move, particularly given that Green politics-at least in Ireland- should probably stick to tree-hugging and not become welded to any particular set of economic policies.
Note too the intention - in true nanny-state style - to "discourage" future "property speculation", as thought the current crisis weren't enough to discourage even the greediest of speculators for life.
Party Leader John Gormley made a bit of a gaffe in his speech:
Those who are guilty of causing the banking crisis must be brought to justice, the Environment Minister has said.
John Gormley said "white collar criminality" has to be dealt with, during a wide-ranging speech to the Green Party convention in Waterford.
"Doing the right thing also means bringing to justice those who are guilty of causing the banking crisis," he said. "We want to tackle the problem of white-collar criminality, because there cannot be one law for the rich and one law for the poor.
"Or, to put it another way, one law for those in authority and one law for the less powerful and weaker elements of our society."
Feeling the need to clarify what "rich" and "poor" mean is one thing, but then realising that those who vote Green are from the more affluent areas of Ireland and changing his tune midsentence to accommodate them is quite another! ("er, ... I actually mean, no, you rich are alright- it's the powerful, yes, them, who are the problem.....")
But the best (read:worst) was yet to come. Ireland has a new Ministry! In true nanny-state style, the Irish have created for themselves a "Ministry of Equality, Integration and Human Rights"!
I haven't decided yet whether to refer to it as MiniQual or MiniRights but both seem apt. Here is the text of the speech of Minister for Equality and Integration Mary White to the Green Party conference, courtesy of CLR:
Good morning everyone. It’s wonderful to speak to you for a few minutes on the new Ministry of Equality, Integration and Human Rights, which I have the honour to be looking after.
The reconfiguration of Government departments this week saw the creation of a junior ministry in which equality and human rights policy were transferred from the Department of Justice to the new Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. I will have responsibility for these areas, as well as integration policy, which was already in that Department. Some aspects of social inclusion policy will also fall within my remit.
For many people in this room, the transfer of equality policy from the Department of Justice to a new home, one where social policy is more central to the agenda, is very welcome. The move will allow equality to be given the kind of focus it deserves within Government.
We are all aware of the inequalities which remain in our society – be they economic or social. We know there are the homeless – short-term and long-term – on our streets, day and night. We know many families are struggling with unbearable financial stress. We know there are many travellers living in appalling conditions, with poor facilities and limited access to basic needs. We know many women in this country flee to refuges seeking protection from violence or abuse. We know people are still insulted, ignored or exploited because of their skin colour. Same-sex couples do not enjoy adequate rights. These inequalities require more action from Government, and I will deliver that action.
In this regard one of my aims is to look at how state structures and institutions active in the fields of equality and social inclusion could be better supported, bodies such as the Equality Authority, the Human Rights Commission and the Office for Social Inclusion. We have an opportunity now to create greater links between these organisations of Government policy.
Underpinning the challenge to create a more equal Ireland is the agenda of advancing human rights. The State, at times, has let its citizens down – dignity denied, protection inadequate, justice delayed. Revelations in report after report have illustrated this. I aim to reinvigorate the human rights agenda.
A reflection of secure human rights and equality in society is the real integration of its minorities. Ireland faces many challenges, both now and in the future, to provide our new Irish with the kind of opportunities – economic, social, cultural – which most of us enjoy. This party prides itself on long-term planning policies, and in my new role I want to ensure Government plans now for the challenges which our new learners will face when their school days are over. I want the employment prospects of children of African or Asian heritage to be the same as those of children of Irish parents. In parallel I will use every opportunity available to communicate to our citizens the importance of integration, the benefits of inclusiveness.
I am still in listening mode. To listen is to learn, and I aim to engage with groups of all backgrounds, learning from voices we’re familiar with, and those less often heard. Time is of the essence – we’re all aware of that in this party – but I share the determination and enthusiasm of all in this room to deliver quickly: sustainable policies for a fairer Ireland.
It's the stuff liberals drool over.
There's nothing like taking advantage of a crisis to create some more government. Surely when Ireland was booming and had the money, they could have considered trying to make society more "fair"?
All the language is suitably fluffy. Lots of "equality", "integration" and "minorities" with of course some "human rights" - whatever that means - thrown in for fun. My favourite part is the fretting that some people are being "insulted" - requiring government intervention of course.
Talk about fiddling while Rome burns!