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25 May 2012 Edition

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COMMENT: Arrogance and austerity

THE TAOISEACH MEETS THE PEOPLE, AND THE FINANCE MINISTER’S FETA OFFENCE

The ‘Yes’ side seems to have made the most mistakes in the campaign

‘If you go into the shops here, apart from feta cheese, how many Greek items do you put in your basket?’ – Finance Minister Michael Noonan demonstrating to the people of Greece he’s not that worried about their crisis

IF ANYONE was in any doubt about the contempt that the leaders of the ‘Yes’ side in the referendum campaign have for anyone who disagrees with their views and approaches to austerity, it was exposed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny on his media walkabout in Athlone to ‘meet the people’.

He met Westmeath-born father-of-three Peadar Doyle.

Peadar told the Taoiseach: “Back in 1958, I was forced out of this country. You are now forcing my children and my grandchildren out of this country.”

Peadar Doyle has one son working in Wales; he fears another son and a daughter are almost certain they will have to follow him to find work and a future outside their own country.

When Peadar Doyle added that he was refusing to pay the Household Charge “because I paid €60,000 in taxes when I came back here”, the Fine Gael leader sneered: “Well then, €2 a week is not beyond your capacity if you paid €60,000 in taxes.” Kenny then loftily told his antagonist to “go outside” if he wanted to make a speech.

An angry Chair of the Athlone Anti-Household and Septic Tank Campaign, Gordon Hudson, advised the Fine Gael leader he should “take the bridge, head west and stay there”. Enda Kenny played Marie Antoinette. The less than statesmanlike response from a Taoiseach to a citizen was: “You could do with a day’s work, I’d say.”

Gordon Hudson fired back that he had been self-employed for 29 years but “had to pack it in because of ye!”

The Taoiseach’s smugness (and Finance Minister Michael Noonan’s glib offensiveness positing the crisis for the people of Greece against feta cheese in our shops) epitomises the attitude of the advocates of austerity: if you disagree with them, you’re being awkward, feckless or not clever enough to know what they know or understand what Ireland needs.

We know what Ireland needs and it’s not the sort of leadership we get from the likes of Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore and Mícheál Martin - the sort of ‘leadership’ that plunged us into this mess and mires us in austerity.

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