Sunday, September 27, 2009


A "Yes" Likely for Lisbon

The Seanad returned this week after the summer recess. For us on the Labour Party benches it also meant a new member. Senator Ivana Bacik joined us from the ranks of the Independent Senators. Ivana has been a long-standing member of the party and is an expert on a range of issues, particularly in relation to law and justice. Apart from that of course, she's also a lot of fun! She is going to be a huge bonus to our team.

The economy dominated the proceedings in the house. I made a speech on the issue on Wednesday evening. I focused on the government debt, and compared the likely trajectory of the debt to GDP percentage to that of other countries.I pointed out that Japan has a percentage of debt to GDP of around 200%. The debt to GDP percentage is made up of a numerator (debt) and a denominator (GDP). Historically in the G20 countries the percentage has been reduced by growing the denominator and I believe that's what we should be doing here.

I am of the view that the way out of the crisis is to invest in infrastructure, education and research, and that we won't create any jobs or wealth by a slash and burn approach.

I spent a lot of time last week out talking to people about Lisbon. I met people in Ratoath, Ashbourne, Dunshaughlin, Laytown and in Drogheda. We were joined on one day by Nessa Childers, Labour MEP for Ireland East. On another canvas Harry McGee of the Irish Times came along. The key message I am getting is that it will be a YES vote, because sufficient people who previously voted "No" are switching, with little leakage from the "Yes" side.

Finally, congratulations to Laytown scouts for a very enjoyable pub quiz last Tuesday in Jimmy Gilna's bar in Laytown. As an ex-scout I was keen to be involved, and I got together a few other ex-scouts who are now Labour party members. Remarkably, my team ended up as the winners, picking up the prize of a dinner for four in the restaurant upstairs. A great night's entertainment, all for a good cause.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Think-in at Faithlegg

On Wednesday the Parliamentary Party travelled down to Faithlegg in Waterford for the annual "think-in ". Like the other parties, we hold these two-day sessions every September before the Oireachtas resumes. It gives the parties a chance to regroup and to talk about strategy in advance of the resumption of parliament.

This year's event was dominated by the two main issues on the horizon, namely the NAMA Bill and the forthcoming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

We were lucky to have some key thinkers on both issues. Professor Karl Whelan gave a very stimulating talk on the NAMA Bill and its implication for the citizens of Ireland. Karl was an advocate of temporary nationalisation even before the Labour Party was, and he clearly spelt out to us why this policy is more preferable than that proposed by the governing parties.

(The previous day I had attended the launch of our strategy in Buswells Hotel,along with Eamon G and Joan B).

We also got a chance to discuss the emerging government approach to risk-sharing, which is something I reckon we are going to hear a lot more about in the near future.

At the weekend the Sunday Independent broke the story of Rody Molloy's pension payment from FAS. It was a subject that was first raised with me about four months ago by a constituent. I followed it up by talking with Roisin Shorthall. She raised a few questions about the matter in the Public Accounts Committee. As a result of that the SINDO journalist Daniel McConnell decided to write the story. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here. Here's a link to the story.